Worried about the airline losing your luggage on your next trip?
More and more people are putting electronic devices like AirTags and Tile trackers on their bags just in case. It’s what one Ontario couple did, but it didn’t help them get their belongings back any faster.
Nikita Rees-Wilson and her husband enjoyed a honeymoon in Greece last fall. Like many, they returned home to Cambridge without any luggage.
“We did our due diligence,” Rees-Wilson said. “We filed all the paperwork, we filed the missing baggage claim.”
The couple tracked their baggage with Apple AirTags. They watched as it sat in Montreal for roughly a month before being shipped out to a facility in Etobicoke in the Greater Toronto Area.
“We got really excited because we’re like ‘Oh it’s coming back to Toronto, it’s going to go to a processing facility, this is awesome,'” Rees-Wilsons said.
However, their suitcases remained there for more than three months.
They called Air Canada countless times but did not get help retrieving their bags. That’s when they got the police involved. Officers got a warrant to search the Etobicoke storage facility.
Toronto police told Global News in a statement, “it was determined that a charity organization that is contracted by the airline carrier had lawfully obtained the luggage from the airline after the luggage was not claimed. The luggage was transported to a storage facility in Etobicoke.”
Rees-Wilson said, “We thought if we got the police involved they could seize this luggage because it’s our personal property.
“So when we found out Air Canada said it was under legal terms donated, I’m like ‘what kind of legal terms is this?’ It made us even more frustrated.”
Meanwhile, Air Canada told Global News: “our goal is to always have baggage arrive with customers. We are working to resolve this matter.”
The airline did not provide additional information about its current lost luggage policies nor the name of the charity to which it is affiliated.
Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs calls Air Canada’s actions “theft.”
“This is the most egregious baggage-related issue I’ve seen in my 15 years of being a passengers’ rights advocate,” Lukacs said.
“Just because there may be some contract with Air Canada and the charity, it doesn’t mean that there’s any basis for Air Canada giving away passengers’ property.”
Toronto criminal defence lawyer Marcus Bornfreund echoes Lukacs’ concerns, saying “the airline is not lawfully in possession of that bag. It was delayed, lost and then found.”
“It hasn’t been signed over to Air Canada at any point.”
While the couple has since been reunited with their possessions, Rees-Wilson says her experience can happen to anyone and encourages people to hold airlines accountable.
She tells Global News she has been financially compensated by the airline, but is considering taking further legal action.