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Airline Ordered to Pay Compensation to Passenger For Rotten Fish in Checked Luggage it Lost For Five Days

Airline Ordered to Pay Compensation to Passenger For Rotten Fish in Checked Luggage it Lost For Five Days

a crab on a crab in the air

A Canadian low-cost airline has been ordered to pay a passenger $780 in compensation for a suitcase full of rotten fish and seafood after the carrier lost the bag for five days causing all the fresh food to spoil.

Brian Vu from British Colombia had packed his checked luggage full of crab meat, fish cakes, sea cucumbers and dandelion root, but when his case didn’t show up, the seafood quickly spoiled, and Vu was left with a caseload of rotten fish.

When the airline rejected Vu’s request for compensation, he sued the carrier, and surprisingly, a judge at the British Colombia Civil Resolution Trial sided with Vu.

Vu had travelled with Flair Airlines from British Columbia to Ontario on November 6, 2022, and had paid to check in two bags at a cost of $72.45 per bag. When he arrived in Ontario, however, only one bag showed up.

The airline managed to locate the lost bag after five days and had it returned to Vu, but by this point, all of the seafood was rotten.

Flair told the judge that it specifically bars passengers from packing perishable items in their checked luggage and, as such, couldn’t be held liable. The airline did, however, agree to refund Vu’s checked baggage fee in accordance with Canadian consumer protection laws.

Unfortunately for Flair, the judge applied a rule from Article 17 of the Montreal Convention, which gives passengers the right to claim compensation in the event that they are injured during a flight or if their luggage is damaged.

The convention usually only applies to international flights, but in this case, the judge applied the Montreal Convention’s wording, which states that airlines are liable to pay compensation if checked luggage is lost or damaged.

Flair Airlines tried to argue that it hadn’t physically damaged the bag, so it couldn’t be liable, but that argument fell flat with the judge, who ruled that simply taking possession of the bag meant that the airline was responsible for any damage occurring to the bag or its contents when in its care.

Along with the checked luggage refund, Vu was also awarded $594.45 to cover the cost of the rotten seafood, $150 in fees and $35.77 in interest.

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