How secure is your checked bag?
Lynda Steele and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Tuesday, August 26, 2014 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:51PM PDT
A B.C. photographer is warning travellers to buy extra insurance for items in checked baggage after thousands of dollars of camera equipment went missing on a flight from Penticton to Victoria.
Professional photographer Doug Drouin claims that when he went to check in for his Air Canada flight staff insisted he had to check one of his camera bags carrying $8,000 worth of equipment.
"Due to space issues, one bag had to go in my luggage. They told me, and I quote, ‘don't worry about buying the extra insurance, it doesn't leave the plane, it doesn't leave our sight’," he said.
So Drouin reluctantly watched his precious cargo get loaded onto the plane. When he landed in Victoria he waited and waited, but his luggage didn’t arrive.
When it was found three hours later, he unzipped the suitcase to discover his camera gear was gone.
"This was not a lost item. This was checked into my suitcase. I watched it loaded onto the plane in Penticton and now it's gone," said Drouin.
Drouin immediately called Air Canada and was told to report the incident to RCMP.
As for compensation? Air Canada wrote to Drouin stating, "airline tariff regulations preclude any liability for loss of articles such as cameras and electronic equipment and we must, with regret, deny any request for compensation."
"I'm basically being told that there's nothing we have to do about this. There's nothing we can do about it. Good luck," he said.
Air Canada launched an internal investigation and could not corroborate aspects of Drouin's story. The company insists staff did not tell Drouin he didn't need to buy insurance. And although Drouin detailed the items he claims were missing, he couldn't provide receipts.
Even so, Air Canada officials felt bad for the photographer and decided that, "on an exceptional basis, based on his personal circumstances, to give him the benefit of the doubt."
Air Canada sent Drouin a cheque for $1500. The maximum liability payout allowed.
Drouin says his stolen gear was worth almost three times that amount.
"I'm looking at them telling me $1500 dollars, and I liken that to a valet stealing my car and the company in charge giving me a bus pass as compensation."
On the up side, Drouin got in touch with his home insurance company and it has agreed to cover half of the loss.
Air Canada says it spent a lot of time on this case and it was understandably concerned about the possibility of theft on its watch, but insists it could find no evidence of that.
Air Canada officials point out that by law, it was under no obligation to pay any compensation for the missing gear.
As for WestJet? It won't deny claims for cameras or other electronics, but it also has a maximum payout of about $1,800 per bag.
If you want more information on the security of your checked and carry-on items click here.