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Context

On the 19th January 2019, I flew from ORY (Paris Orly - France) to PTP (Pointe à Pitre - French Caribbean) with Air Caraibes.

The flight got delayed (2h42 according to the company) and once we arrived at the destination, passengers were told that because the plane was not the one initially planned, pretty much none of the luggage were actually in the baggage hold, that our luggage would "probably arrive the day after in the afternoon" and that we'd have to queue to fill various papers.

After queuing for an hour (only between 1 and 3 staff members - not sure if airline or airport - were filling papers manually for all passengers of a full plane), it was eventually my turn and took this chance to ask about the procedure regarding things we'd need to buy. I was told that we'd "be obviously fully refunded for the corresponding expenses" and that'd we simply have to keep the receipts.


Issue

Ever since, I've been struggling to get the compensation for expenses (swim suits, toothbrush, toothpaste, sun screen and shower gel) by sending of loads emails and customer complaints to the airlines.

On the 12th Avril, I was eventually asked for the following documents:

  • luggage report filled at the airport

  • rush tags

  • receipts corresponding to essentials

which I provided on the 25th April.

Then, on the 13th May, I got a replying saying that "compensation only applies to delays longer that 24 hours".

I cannot find anything related to a 24 hours delay for compensation online (here for instance).

A 24h delay seems pretty arbitrary to me as the essentials we'd need for the first 18h hours not so different from what we'd need for the first 24 hours...

Is it legal ? Is the fact that I was told otherwise (with no proof) relevant ?

What should I do ?


Additional details which only makes the story worse:

  • we were delayed 2h42 then wasted one hour to fill papers but we cannot get compensation for this because compensation starts after a 3 hour delay

  • because the plane was not the one initially planned, there was no multimedia system whatsoever and we were not warned beforehand - a 9 hour journey appears longer when you did not take any book or computer

  • the air crew fully knew that almost no baggage where in the baggage hold but no one was told until we were at the destination

  • an insufficient number of staff were handling the passengers

  • in the afternoon the next day, we had no news related to our luggage despite trying to contact the airline via all possible ways (customer request, phone calls, emails, etc) - not the best way to spend the first day of holidays

  • eventually, I contacted the airport which told us that our luggage were indeed ready to be picked up

  • the form filled at the airport asked for the address we'd be staying at but nothing was done to deliver the bag to our hotel so that we'd have to go to the airport ourselves (more than 1 hour each way) - again not the best way to spend the first day of holidays

Even if technical incidents happen, Air Caraibes handled the situation in the worst possible way with no communication at any stage of the problem

  • 1
    The airline probably has clauses in its terms that it can be behind, but even if it didn't your options are limited. If the airline digs it's heels in and refuses to engage are you really going to start a legal case for a few tens of dollars (or Euros, Pounds, whatever)? – Redd Herring Jun 1 at 3:07
  • @ReddHerring Unfortunately, you are right (and the airline knows it). I was expecting a clear answer in the Montreal convention but did not find anything related to a 24 hour minimum delay. Similarly, I looked in the Terms and Conditions but did not find anything (warning: French language ahead aircaraibes.com/pratique/mentions-legales/… ) – Josay Jun 1 at 8:15
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    You flew from Europe (EU) so you should have some rights. Note: it is normal to get refusal. This is the default, to screen people. In any case: this seems exceptional, so the staff had also problem with all people. They should have given you a kit (toothpaste and few other things). You should always have on our cabin baggage items for one or two days. BTW: I was expecting that the company will bring your baggage at your home/hotels. For me it alwasys worked so – Giacomo Catenazzi Jun 1 at 16:20
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Post-mortem

After way too many emails being sent back and forth, the airline told me that the commercial policy for delayed luggage is to compensate as much as 50%. I accepted to settle for that.

Lessons learnt

  • Be ready for your luggage to be delayed which means packing your underwears for your first day but also other things that are not too big, required to make the most out of your first day and a bit expensive to buy - for instance, the swimsuit. Also, medications but usually people who are on mediciation know how to handle them during a trip.
  • As you learn about the delay, make sure you ask as many informations as possible about what happens next (who contacts who? will things be delivered?) and if possible, record whatever you can (it is easier now that almost everyone has a proper camera in his pocket)
  • Keep everything single piece of documents you handle as it may be requested by the airline later on (taking a picture of documents asap could be a good way to be sure nothing gets really lost)
  • If the delay impacts many passengers, try to get as many contact information as possible - it can help to get organised for a common action
  • Contact your insurance asap - I assumed that everything would be reimbursed so I did not bother contacting my insuring. By the time I got the real information from the airline, it was too late to declare the incident.
  • Make sure that this bad inconvenience does not ruin your holidays.
  • 1
    In regards to your first lesson learnt, you should always pack checked luggage with the idea that you will never see it again. IE never put anything critical to your trip in it. – Peter M Jul 8 at 17:37

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