Is this enough compensation? A $225 check for my lost luggage — you’re kidding!

By | May 10th, 2011

Maybe we should start calling this the lost luggage column. Last week, we tried to untangle the case of a skier who lost his gear in Telluride, Colo. Today, meet Rita Rosenfeld, whose luggage was misplaced by Alitalia on a trip to Italy.

Lost luggage on Alitalia? Big shocker, I know.

But Rosenfeld feels the airline shortchanged her in a major way, offering her just a fraction of the value of the items she had to buy during her trip.

This is an older case — it happened in December 2009 — but it was just brought to my attention a few weeks ago. Rosenfeld’s luggage was lost on her outbound flight to Milan, Italy.

I was told to repurchase everything I would need to continue my week vacation because they could not get my luggage to me until Saturday, December 19. I was returning home December 20.

I was assured that I would be reimbursed as long as I kept all my itemized receipts and submitted a claim when I returned to the States. I did that, and I clearly itemized everything.

After almost 4 months, I didn’t hear from them, and when I followed up, they lied and told me that my luggage was returned to me the following day, and then denied my claim. They offered me $225, instead of the $1,465 they owe me.

Rosenfeld says she tried to watch her expenses when she bought replacement clothes, shopping at discount apparel stores and drugstores to get he bare necessities. She says she did nothing wrong, and doesn’t understand why she has to pay for Alitalia’s mistake.

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Alitalia’s website is silent on the issue of maximum compensation, at least in the high-traffic areas. You have to dig deeper to find out that its liability is limited to 1131 SDRs (SDRs are a kind of composite currency.)

It appears Alitalia short-changed Rosenfeld.

I contacted the airline. Alitalia’s policy, it said, was to cover only “$75.00 per day for necessities.” And according to the airline’s records, her luggage was only lost a few days — not for the duration of the trip. But after reviewing her case, it sent her another check for $375.

I think that’s much better, but Rosenfeld is still out more than $800 for the clothing she had to buy. If Alitalia had explained to her that she was limited to $75 a day for necessities, then would she have limited herself to that amount? I’m sure she would have tried.

Rosenfeld filed disputes with American Express and asked the Better Business Bureau to intervene. Both turned her down.

Is $600 enough? I asked a similar question last week, when US Airways essentially split the difference on a new set of ski clothes with a passenger.

I’m not sure about the answer, but Rosenfeld is. She says Alitalia has repeatedly lied to her about her luggage claim, and claims it is lying now. She hasn’t received the second check yet, and isn’t holding her breath.

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