In September 2021, Jessica Kalynn arrived in Dubai for a six-day trip.
Her baggage, however, didn’t make it there until two days later.
Air Canada offered Kalynn $500 in compensation, but she filed a claim with B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, demanding more money to cover her expenses.
Last week, the tribunal ruled in her favour.
Baggage delays are one of many frustrations travellers are facing at airports across Canada as airlines scale up operations to meet post-pandemic travel demand.
In the dispute, Kalynn argued she was entitled to $2,120.67 for all the items she claimed she was forced to purchase in Dubai while she waited for her baggage.
Since Air Canada had already paid $500, she sought another $1,620.67.
Four pairs of shoes, five tops
Once she learned her baggage was delayed, Kalynn purchased more than $2,000 in items, including four pairs of shoes, six bottoms, five tops, one bathing suit, two bras, two pairs of underwear, one package of socks and toiletries, according to the tribunal’s written judgment.
Kalynn told the tribunal she needed the clothing because her trip included a work conference, a professional dinner at a high-end restaurant, and gym workouts.
Air Canada argued the expenses were excessive and tribunal member Shelley Lopez agreed — to a degree.
“I find it was reasonable for Ms. Kalynn to purchase some different clothes and shoes given the activities she undisputedly had scheduled,” she wrote.
“Even with the different activities, I find Ms. Kalynn has not adequately explained why she needed four pairs of footwear (in addition to what she wore on the plane) and six bottoms and five tops, even if she had to change her clothes during a day.”
Still, Lopez found that Air Canada owed Kalynn further compensation. She ordered the airline to pay $700 in compensation on top of the $500 the airline had already paid.
Passengers entitled to compensation
Gábor Lukács, an air passenger rights expert, welcomes the decision.
“[It] shows that passengers going to the CRT are going to get justice,” he said, adding that passengers don’t need to simply accept whatever amount an airline initially offers and deems reasonable.
In Canada, if baggage is delayed, passengers can claim up to about $2,200 in damages.
But the key, Lukács says, is to make it clear that your purchases were justifiable.
“This decision … signals to the passenger when your baggage is delayed, it’s not a reason to go on a shopping spree,” said Lukács.
If a traveller can prove to the CRT that all the purchased items were necessary, he says it’s entirely reasonable to expect the maximum in compensation. He encourages air passengers who lose their baggage to keep all their receipts, as well as documentation regarding how the items were used.