Compensated for misdirected bag

This item appears on page 32 of the February 2009 issue.

I took the 16-day “Italian Masterpiece” tour with Cosmos, Sept. 29-Oct. 14, 2007. The trip began with two days in Venice, then the itinerary led us south to Rome, which we reached on Oct. 3. From there we continued back to Venice.

The first leg of the flight over was on United Airlines and the last on Lufthansa. When we arrived in the Venice area from Zürich, my suitcase was missing. I waited for the next flight, but it was not on that one, either. The others were visiting Venice while I spent the afternoon waiting for my luggage and filling out forms at the lost-and-found. I then went to our hotel.

The guide checked before we left town early the next morning, but the bag still had not arrived. She left them our itinerary with the names and phone numbers of the hotels we would be staying at during the first four days on our way to Rome.

She checked by phone each day. On our second day in Rome, she was told it was at the airport there but that no one was available to deliver it to our hotel. We left the following morning. We then were told that the suitcase had been sent back to the US.

Other passengers who were my size had offered me the loan of their clothes, but for five days I had only the clothing I wore on the airplane. After the fifth day, the guide advised me to buy necessities for the remainder of the trip (tops, pants, underwear, curling iron, a suitcase, light coat, raincoat, etc.). I was told to bill everything to my credit card so I would have an accurate record. She did all she could to help me shop and advise me on making a claim.

Meanwhile, I learned afterward, my daughter had dropped by my house one afternoon to water my indoor plants, and when she opened the door to leave she almost bumped into a delivery man dropping off the suitcase. If not for the accidental timing, I don’t know if he would have left it out on the step, as there would have been no one to receive it. As it happened, it frightened my daughter.

She said, “Where is my mother?” and he said he didn’t know anything about it. She took the suitcase to my travel agency, Travel Shoppe (Fresno, CA; 800/995-4650,, and they figured out what happened by the tags on the suitcase.

My travel agent, Shirley Wu at Travel Shoppe, handled all the correspondence pertaining to my insurance claims. I turned over my credit card statements to her and she did the rest. She wrote directly to Lufthansa and to Trip Mate, associated with the Cosmos Protection Plan.

The Cosmos brochure outlined the coverage they provided for every eventuality. Under “Luggage Delay,” it said, “If, while on your Cosmos trip, your luggage is delayed for 24 hours or more, you will be reimbursed up to $250 for the cost of reasonable additional clothing and personal articles purchased during the delay.” $250 is what I received from them.

Cosmos also sent me a lovely photo album of the sights of the tour. I didn’t have my camera and had to buy throwaway cameras.

Lufthansa sent a check for about $825. Their letter said that their policy is to pay half the claim. I had submitted a claim for $1,648.60.

Of course, I lost vacation time and was terribly inconvenienced. I can’t say enough as to my appreciation of the help I received from my Cosmos guide and my Fresno travel agency and of the kindness of my fellow travelers. I appreciated it very much.


Fresno, CA

ITN sent a copy of the above letter to Trip Mate, Cosmos and Lufthansa and received the following (edited) replies.

Thank you for your Aug. 12, 2008, letter regarding the above-referenced claim. Trip Mate Insurance Agency is the claims administrator for Stonebridge Casualty Insurance Company, and we appreciate the opportunity to respond to Ms. Boggero’s concerns.

In connection with her trip to Italy, Ms. Boggero purchased a short-term travel insurance policy, which included baggage delay coverage. According to our records, Ms. Boggero was paid the maximum benefit of $250, as stated in the policy, for expenses incurred while baggage is delayed.

JENNIFER M. CRIST, Claims Manager, Trip Mate, 9225 Ward Parkway, Suite 200, Kansas City, MO, 64114

Ms. Boggero’s particular situation of the luggage never showing up on the tour is rare. Although certainly a major inconvenience for her during the tour, it was found and delivered to her home address because that was probably the address listed on or in the luggage when it was located.

The travel protection plan provides $50 in reimbursement for purchased items for each day the luggage is missing, up to five days. Since Ms. Boggero’s luggage was not delivered to her within that time, the insurance reimbursed her $250, the maximum reimbursement allowed.

SHARON PAYNE, Traveler Services, Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms, Avalon), 5301 South Federal Circle, Littleton, CO 80123

We fully regret that Ms. Boggero was without her baggage for such a long period of time. This is certainly not common. For example, more than 82% of our customers whose baggage is misplaced are reunited with their belongings within 24 hours; more than 91%, within 48 hours, and only 9%, longer than 48 hours. Nevertheless, we always would recommend that customers purchase private baggage insurance or another means for protecting themselves and their belongings when traveling overseas.

Lufthansa constantly strives to limit the inconveniences caused by lost baggage and at the same time tries to improve our daily baggage handling services.

Airline liability in such a case is governed by the Montreal Convention (a treaty ratified by the United States in September 2003) and is somewhat limited. Maximum reimbursement is done in accordance with Montreal Convention guidelines, which are set at SDR1,000 for the total amount of baggage checked (including bag, contents and interim purchases). (The SDR, or Special Drawing Right, is an international reserve asset and serves as a unit of accounting for the International Monetary Fund as well as other organizations/treaties, including the Montreal Convention.)

The current (September 2008) exchange rate for the SDR therefore puts Ms. Boggero’s total reimbursement at $1,525. Our second check for $700.69 has been issued to Ms. Boggero and together with the initial payment of $824.31 represents the maximum amount we could reimburse her.

We hope that Mrs. Boggero will give Lufthansa a second chance on a future flight, and we look forward to welcoming her (and her baggage!) on board.

JENNIFER URBANIAK, Communications Manager, N.A., Deutsche Lufthansa AG, 1640 Hempstead Tpk., East Meadow, NY 11554

In a follow-up conversation, Jennifer Urbaniak told ITN that while Lufthansa’s standard practice in the event of missing baggage is to reimburse a passenger 50% for necessary purchases, in Ms. Boggero’s case they reimbursed a larger amount because she was without her bags for such a long period of time (two weeks).

Incidentally, the Montreal Convention, originally adopted in 1999 for the purpose of successfully compensating families of those killed or injured while on an aircraft, also works toward standardizing rules related to the carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo on international flights. It requires all air carriers to have liability insurance and allows lawsuits to be filed against foreign carriers by victims or their families from their principal residence. To date, the Convention has been adopted by 190 countries.