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An Iberia lost luggage problem -- where's the compensation?

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Q: Last summer, my wife and I flew from Madrid to Munich on Iberia Airlines. The airline lost two of our bags.

We filed a lost luggage claim, and after many, many calls from Germany to Iberia's customer service office in London, the airline delivered one of our small checked bags five days later. It found my wife's larger bag and delivered it eight days after we arrived.

We sent receipts for items purchased by my wife since she had no toiletries and only the clothes she was wearing when she arrived in Munich. We also sent a registered letter to Iberia's customer experience manager in Madrid, Spain, requesting $495 in compensation for the items she had to purchase.

To this date, the manager we contacted has not responded, but Iberia's London office has denied the claim, saying there is "missing information" on the sheet. Instead of covering our costs and paying us $495, Iberia is sending us $162. It's their final offer.

I would like you to get someone to resolve this claim, if possible. We have double-checked all our receipts, and they are all clear and legible. My wife even made a separate list with each item purchased and the cost. -- Benedict Valenti, Boynton Beach, Florida

A: I'm sorry about your delayed luggage. Iberia should have delivered your wife's bags to her in Munich when she arrived. Not five days later and not eight days later. (But it could be worse -- remember last week's case, where the airline lost a reader's bag permanently?)

No one disputes the loss, the delay nor the fact that your wife had expenses for clothing and toiletries. But according to the documentation you provided, Iberia thinks your wife only ran up a tab of $162.

Hmm, $162 for a week's worth of clothing and toiletries? (Have they ever been to Germany?)

A look at the receipts you sent to Iberia suggests that everything was correctly documented. If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone in the main office is just denying your wife's refund requests on a line-by-line basis, and on a whim.

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The fix? Send a brief, polite email to one of the Iberia executives. I also list the managers at International Airlines Group, Iberia's parent company.

When an airline loses your luggage but eventually recovers it, the airline has a lot more flexibility on compensation. So Iberia could have told you to take it or leave it. A closer look at your claim suggested that while you presented the receipts, you also could have included an itemized list that clearly explained what your wife had purchased.

You did, and I shared that new list with Iberia. It cut you a check for the full amount of your claim.

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Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of "How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler." You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at elliot@ngs.org

(c) 2019 Christopher Elliott.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

 

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