9 Apr 2018

Baggage theft at airports? That's your problem.

In August 2016, we flew Amaszonas from Bolivia to Paraguay. On the way, my checked bag was robbed. I wrote this complaint:
Today, I took Amazonas from Rurrebaque to La Paz, then from La Paz to Asuncion, via Santa Cruz

When I arrived in Asuncion, I discovered that things were missing from my baggage:
  • USB wireless keyboard (value USD $35)
  • Souvenir cash from Argentina, Chile and Bolivia (value USD $35)
My bag was not locked, but I was unable to take it inside the plane because it weighted 9kg.

The items were stolen at Rurrebaque, La Paz, or Santa Cruz airports, as the bag came within 15 minutes of our arrival in Paraguay.

I know that someone was in my bag because it was "strangely" repacked.

Please tell me how you would like to proceed.
The reply was:
Thank you for contacting us. Inform you that we are sending your email to the person in charge to investigate the case. We also provide the following information so you can contact:

Ernesto Gutierrez: 71012115 egutierrez@amaszonas.com

Estimado Sr. Gutierrez: Buenas noches, solicitamos su colaboraciĆ³n al pasajero, gracias.
There was no reply. In October 2016 I emailed:
Hi Ernesto

It's been 2 months.

When are you going to send me $ to compensate for theft from my baggage?

To which I got this reply:
Mr Zetland

Unfortunately we cannot make responsible for loss reported after leaving the airport.

Amaszonas S.A. in accordance to the Air Regulation, (as it is at most airlines) is not liable for damage or loss to any electrical appliance, fragile items, money, medicine, jewelry, mobile telephones, documents in general, and others that must remain in the passenger's custody within carry-on baggage at all times. According to procedure claims claims as lost, pilferages, damages should have been done before leaving the airport in order to make them valid.

Amaszonas S.A. is not liable for any damage cause by the airport administration personnel during screening checks. For instance, we are sorry to inform you that the claim cannot proceed as it was not declared at the moment of checking at La Paz.
This useless reply denied compensation because I had:

  1. Failed to unpack and inspect my bag before leaving the airport;
  2. Checked items that the airlines have declared "must remain in the passenger's custody;" and
  3. Failed to declare theft in La Paz, half-way through our trip.

These excuses do not protect passengers. They only make it easy for airlines to ignore theft by airline and airport staff. Sadly, limited competition and lax regulation means that airlines and airports can ignore the criminals taking advantage of defenseless passengers.

Bottom line: Don't check anything that might be valuable or stolen when traveling in dodgy countries where the ground crew robs bags. (The US is on this list!)

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