Various air carriers have requirements in the event that a
passenger seeks to state a baggage claim for damage, loss or delay.
However, when the baggage claim is being made in litigation or
related to a flight which is governed by either the Montreal or
Warsaw Conventions, particular restrictions are imposed on the
claim. Defense counsel should be aware of the myriad requirements
for the recovery of baggage claims, in order to properly defend
against such claims. The Warsaw Convention is an international
treaty governing certain incidents that occur on board an aircraft
during flights between signatory nations, which was modified by the
Montreal Protocol Number 4 (The Montreal Convention) and the
International Air Transportation Association Intercarrier Agreement
on Passenger Liability. Essentially, when an incident occurs on an
International flight between signatories of the Montreal or Warsaw
Conventions, the applicable convention provisions will apply.
Whether the provisions of the Montreal or Warsaw conventions will
apply to a particular case will depend on which of these
conventions were in effect on the date of loss. Each convention
treats the handling of baggage claims differently.
Pursuant Article 26(2) of the original Warsaw Convention, any
claim for damage to luggage must be reported at most three days
after the receipt of luggage. The Hague Protocol, which modified
the Warsaw Convention and went into force in the United States in
2003, modified this time frame. Specifically, the Hague Protocol
provides that a passenger must report a claim for damage within
seven days from the receipt of the baggage. Most recently, the
United States ratified the Montreal Convention. Article 31 of this
Convention similarly requires that a passenger report a damage
claim within seven days of receipt of checked baggage.
With regard to lost baggage, the Warsaw Convention, Hague
Protocol, Montreal Protocol No. 4, and the IATA Intercarrier
Agreements are silent as to any reporting requirements for lost
baggage claims. Consequently, various courts have interpreted
Article 33 of the Warsaw Convention, which allows carriers to enact
regulations that supplement but do not conflict with the
Convention, to allow carriers to supplement Article 26 through
their respective tariffs by mandating a time limit for written
notice of lost baggage. The same analysis will likely apply to
claims for baggage under the Montreal Convention, since Article 31
of the Montreal Convention is also silent with regard to notice
requirements for lost baggage claims.
Delayed Baggage Claims
As it relates to delayed baggage claims, Article 26 of the
Warsaw Convention originally required that a party make a written
complaint within 14 days from the date on which the luggage was
placed at the passenger's disposal. The Hague Protocol then
modified Article 26 to require that such complaints be made within
21 days from the date on which the luggage was placed at the
passenger's disposal. Neither Montreal Protocol No. 4 nor the
IATA Intercarrier Agreements modified the time limitations for
notice of delayed baggage claims. Much like Article 26 of the
Warsaw Convention, Article 31 of the Montreal Convention requires
that the passenger state a complaint within 21 days of the date the
luggage was placed at the passenger's disposal.
How Much Is a Passenger Entitled To Receive For Baggage
In the event that a passenger has actually made a valid baggage
claim within the time periods enumerated by the applicable
convention, defense counsel needs to then determine how much a
passenger is entitled to receive for the baggage claim. Article 22
of the Warsaw Convention as modified by the Hague Protocol requires
that a carrier pay a passenger two hundred and fifty francs per
kilogram in the case of claims for checked baggage. Article 22 of
the Montreal Convention requires that the carrier pay 1,131 SDRs
for checked baggage claims in the case of destruction, loss, damage
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