Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Agency quashes WestJet limit on baggage claims

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Travellers worried about their luggage should rest easier thanks to a ruling handed down by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

After a challenge from Winnipegger Gábor Lukács, the agency has voided WestJet's international baggage liability policies. He argued that compensation for jewelry and other valuables inside luggage lost or damaged in transport should not be limited to the maximum set by the airline. That limit now falls under Articles 17(2) and 19 of the Montreal Convention, an industry standard with a limit of $1,800 per passenger per bag.

"The point is that it doesn't matter what you have in your suitcase... the cap is in place already," Lukács said. "That is what was voided."

Lukács said the $1,800 is now being used as an interim limit enforced by the CTA, the governing body that regulates the airline industry. WestJet has been ordered to adjust its international tariffs within 45 days.

A WestJet spokesman said the airline is reviewing the decision.

Lukács, a University of Manitoba mathematics professor, has been down this road before with the CTA and the airline industry. He is still awaiting a final ruling on a claim against WestJet regarding its $250 domestic baggage liability, having won his initial challenge against the airline's policy earlier this year.

Lukács already claimed victory over Air Canada for damage to his baggage in May 2009.

He is the same professor challenging the university over its decision to award a PhD to a student with exam anxiety.

-- Adam Wazny

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 20, 2010 B3

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