Here is what happened...
1 --> Sinking feeling. My suitcase is not on the luggage carousel when I arrive in Toronto, Canada
2 --> I report my loss to an Air Canada agent who gives me a slip of paper with instructions to call their missing baggage telephone number and the number I must identify myself with moving forward. I very quickly learn that I am calling India and the very polite agent advises me that my 'delayed' bag has not yet been located. I must have made at least a dozen more calls to this tracing service and the message I received was always exactly the same no matter which way I asked, 'Where is my luggage?'
3 --> On Day #2 I ask if I may buy some new make-up as it was checked with my lost luggage. My request is denied. I am told I must wait for 4 days before I can make any purchases. I'm refused because 'I was at home' (and surely I have doubles of every moisturizing cream, etc.)
4 --> On Day #4 an Air Canada representative speaks to me and allows $300 to be spent against any compensation I might receive for 'delayed' (no one ever used the word 'lost' ) items in my bag.
5 --> I create a Facebook page called, 'Air Canada Give Journeywoman Back Her Bag.' Subsequently over 500 people LIKE the page and offer their encouragement and expertise.
6 --> I ask my Twitter followers for direct email addresses of higher ups in Air Canada and LAN Airlines. I email to all the contacts I receive including the President of Air Canada and others in charge of baggage. I receive responses from the baggage department who are all sympathetic to my 'delayed' baggage issue. Period.
7 --> I learned that within 21 days I must fill in a detailed form listing all of the things in my bag. This was an odious job. Filling in this form meant listing every single item in my suitcase (a) when I bought it. (b) its cost. (c) color and size (d) a copy of each of the bills (which we all know is next to impossible). I spend the better part of a week making long distance phone calls, tracking down bills for most of my clothes and cosmetics and photocopying everything. I write explanatory notes for those items that were purchased in markets (no receipts) or for items received as gifts.
8 --> I create a document package as directed and to the above I must add:
a) Airline tickets/itinerary
b) Original purchase receipts
c) Baggage claim checks.
d) Photocopy of signed photo identification.
9 --> The total in lost possessions adds up to $3300. I send the package in and wait.
10 --> I'm informed that based on airline rules, etc. I can only claim up to $1800 for lost items.
11 --> My package is reviewed and I am told that if after 40 days my bag is still not returned the insurance division will evaluate my claim.
12 --> Close to three months later a cheque for $1706.04 arrives. When I question where the other $94.00 of the allowable $1800 is, the response is - 'This is what $1800 was worth on the day you travelled.' See below:
'Please be advised that the maximum settlement amount of your claim is based on the SDR (special drawing rights) maintained by the International Monetary Fund and the amount varies from day to day. The amount of $1800.00 that you were told to receive was based on the maximum approximate amount possible as per the SDR. However, this was not the case for your travel date. That being said, the calculations for your travel date amount to $1706.04 CAD which represent the maximum allowed settlement for your claim.'
So, dear JourneyWomen, don't check your bags unless you absolutely, positively have to do it.