Many a Slip between the Hand and the Hold

Cape Times (South Africa), February 2, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Many a Slip between the Hand and the Hold


Airlines don't consider compensating passengers at all if they pack "valuables" such as electronic items, jewellery or cash in their check-in baggage. Keep your valuables with you, is the golden rule, especially in South Africa.

But what if you pack such valuables into your hand luggage, and then despite the fact that it conforms to the specifications in terms of weight and size, the airline's ground crew take your bag from you as you are about to board the plane and those valuables are stolen out of the bag?

That's exactly what happened to Sara Greenspan when she flew with 1Time a few days before Christmas. On boarding her flight to Durban at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, she was asked to leave her bag at the bottom of the stairway to the plane.

When she expressed reservations, she was reassured that it would be perfectly safe. When she and her husband Meyer arrived in Durban, they found that the cable tie and zip on her bag were broken and her prescription glasses and 3G modem were missing.

They claimed the replacement costs - R7 182 - from the airline, but were paid only R540. When Greenspan complained about this in writing, a 1Time customer relations employee put him straight.

"Baggage claims are paid out as per our terms and conditions. Going on that, your claim should not have been considered at all. The airline does not pay out for electronic or valuable items at all; these items should be claimed from personal or travel insurance."

But the airline had chosen to a pay "a contribution towards your loss" based on the international airline formula, she said - $20 (about R200) per kilogram of missing items, which is how they got to that R540.

Dissatisfied with this, Greenspan wrote to Consumer Watch.

"We feel very upset about the small compensation we received for the loss of my wife's 3G modem and her glasses," he said.

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