Verdict: Suitcase arrives a week later – one-way flight is reimbursed

Flight landed – luggage missing. That’s all the more annoying – if it contained clothes for a special occasion. Can you claim back airfare?

If a suitcase arrives at the destination many hours or days later, passengers can buy replacement clothing and the airline contributes to these costs. Under certain circumstances, you may even be entitled to a refund of the flight price, according to a ruling by the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Celle. (Ref.: 11 U 9/22)

What happened? A family had flown to Kenya to celebrate the 50th birthday of a fellow traveller. Only: the suitcases and the festive wardrobe only arrived in the country a week later.

The airline reimbursed the cost of the “makeshift replacement” of the clothing, as stated in the Message of the court is called. But the passengers demanded the fare back. In the first instance, they failed in the Hanover Regional Court, but the Higher Regional Court in Celle agreed in part – the airline must at least reimburse the costs for the outward flight.

Court: Airline knew about the risk

The reasons: According to the court, the airline should have pointed out to the passengers that there could be considerable delays in luggage transport. A major point of contention was whether the machines that could be used could have transported all the suitcases at full capacity.

The court did not see it that way with a view to the descriptions available: It assumed that the airline knew that it would not be able to transport the luggage reliably at the same time or in a timely manner. She should have informed the passengers about this beforehand. This would have left them the option of not booking the flight at all and choosing a different connection instead.

Outward flight virtually worthless for passengers

The bottom line was that the transport service for the outward flight was worthless according to the court. The timely transport of suitcases (with the festive wardrobe) was of essential importance for the passengers.

In addition, it says in Verdict: “An average passenger living in Europe, who has no private connections – for example family members living there – at his destination, which is in a less developed and in many respects culturally foreign country, will be miserable due to the permanent absence of his luggage during his stay there (…) impaired to an extent that amounts to a non-arrival.”

Accordingly, in this case, the passengers are entitled to a partial reimbursement of the price for the outbound flight, totaling almost 550 euros. This does not apply to the return flight – here the airline has provided the transport service in full. (dpa)

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