CAL fined US$60,000 for short-changing passengers

(Trinidad Express) The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) yesterday fined State carrier Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) US$60,000 for limiting reimbursements for lost, damaged and delayed baggage to less than consumers were entitled under an international treaty.

“Both domestic and international travellers have a right to be fairly compensated for lost, delayed and damaged baggage,” US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement released online. “Consumers have the right to be treated fairly when they fly, and we will continue to take enforcement action when their rights are violated.”

Under the Montreal Convention, an international agreement that sets liability limits for international air transportation, airlines are liable for damages caused by delayed baggage up to a limit that is the equivalent of just under $1,800 in US currency, unless the carrier has taken all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or it was impossible to take these measures.

The Convention requires carriers to compensate passengers for loss, damage or delay of baggage on international flights in most cases.

It also forbids carriers from setting a lower baggage compensation limit for international flights or from refusing to accept liability for the loss of any types of baggage, such as jewelry, electronics, or other high-value items.

A review of CAL’s website by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office led to an investigation of the carrier’s baggage liability policies, revealing violations of the Convention between March 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011.

The airline routinely told passengers that it was not liable for the loss of irreplaceable or high-value items such as electronics, jewelry, cameras or cash, and the carrier’s website also stated that it would not compensate passengers for the loss of these items, the DOT statement said.

In a number of cases, passengers found that some of these expensive items had been removed from carry-on bags they were required to check after boarding because of cabin space limitations.

In addition, Caribbean Airlines violated the Convention by regularly refusing to pay claims for damaged baggage and by limiting payments for buying necessities due to delayed bags to US$25-US$75 per day.


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