During a recent Air France flight, I had a very unexpected situation: at the counter I was informed that my baggage to be checked was below the minimum weight, which is of 5 kg.
I had never heard of the existence of a minimum weight for checked luggage, and I've not been able to find any information about it on their website.
According to the employee on the counter, this limit exists to "prevent damage to the luggage". I've been forced to put extra objects in my checked baggage to meet this minimum weight. Still, the baggage ticket I was given contained the term "LIMITED RELEASE".
I had never seen this term, and I surely have not been informed about it by the employee. I expected that meeting the required 5kg would be enough to enable my baggage to be considered as standard.
I find it extremely annoying that they are allowed to simply stick this "limited release" term without warning.
What are the conditions for a piece of baggage to be considered limited release? Can the airline simply label any baggage this way? And what are its consequences? Does it minimize the airline responsibility in any way?
Note that, on the way back, I put more stuff in the baggage so it was way above the minimum required, and this time they did not add the "limited release".
Edit: It's worse than I thought. I've just been to Orly again, on the same flight, and both my bags (standard hard-case luggage, within the weight limits) got tagged with limited release. Then I asked the counter lady what it meant. She didn't know, and then she asked her supervisor, and then I later asked 3 more people (two from Air France and one from Iberia), all of which gave me the same answer: they claimed that, at least in Orly, this is standard for everyone, for all flights and companies, and it means nothing. Why then put it on the ticket? No one could answer, not even the people responsible for baggage inquiries, and I had a plane to catch so I couldn't keep asking on. I invite you to do it if you ever have some spare time. I'm not convinced they would simply write it out for no reason, so it must somehow benefit them. Otherwise they might just do like for the return flight, where there was no such mention.