Luggage damage & airline's disinterest in compensating

In mid December whilst under its control, an airline broke my suitcase.
One wheel and its housing were torn asunder. In fact the break rendered the suitcase “see through” as one could see into the case from outside the closed and locked case.

I was in Asia. I bought my ticket in Sydney on the airline’s website.
I have a written report from airport authorities confirming the damage as well as their photographs. Hotel staff where I stayed took photos when they were gobsmacked by the “see through” suitcase.
All were sent to the airline, which dragged its feet for weeks.

I bought a replacement suitcase soon after I got to the hotel, for $190. I sought compensation from the airline as the excess on my travel insurance is >$190, but the airline initially refused to compensate. It now offers USD 50 (being AUD 70 before bank transfer fees, at my cost) on condition I sign an indemnity and a release. Fat chance.
Baggage staff again ask for my passport details as part of the process, to which I already responded that they have my details: twice in fact. Once when I booked the ticket and once when I signed up to their frequent flyer program. And that I will not email confidential details like passport data as it is not only insecure, it is superfluous.

The broken case, disposed of weeks ago, was bought close to when I departed Australia, but I don’t recall exactly when and do not have the receipt.

The airline states that if I could provide a receipt I would get the $190.

Do I have enough ammunition to take the matter to NCAT?


Do you have it on your bank statement?

If you do, you will be able to work out who the retailer was. You can then contact them and ask for a duplicate copy of the receipt - hopefully they have ability to do such.

If you had the receipt, possibly yes, but without it it will be difficult to argue what the value of the damaged suitcase was. They could argue it was near end of life or possibly had pre-existing damage (worth not much), and you would argue it was new (worth a lot). Without proof it becomes hearsay.


That sort of statement would be used against you at NCAT, or any other hearing. How are you making a claim for $190 if you don’t know when you bought and can’t prove you paid that much?

You need to check you bank/credit card statements as @phb suggested. Sometimes, just being able to show the line with the date, the retailer, and the amount on the statment is enough to validate your purchase.

If you can’t find the payment in your statments, you will have to accept the USD50 being offered.


I have to dig out the airport staff’s photos which showed a case in near new condition.

Let me see if I understand what passes for consumer rights in Australia. If I had the receipt MAYBE I’d have a case? What about the gross inconvenience of having to take a taxi to a shopping centre and hunt down a replacement suitcase? This is over and above having to take a taxi from the airport to the city because I could not wheel the 3 legged suitcase on the platform to the train at the airport and city stations.

I will look for the statements, assuming I used a card, but even if I used a card it will not list items bought, it will only have a total. As for accepting the USD 50, I’d rather eat glass given the conditions demanded of me to indemnify and release the airline from liability.

Also you may have missed my point on USD 50. First I will receive a dud exchange rate from my bank and then I will be fleeced $11 by my bank for receiving the TT from abroad. I estimate I will receive close to AUD50 all told.
So, no thank you. So long as the insulting USD 50 offer is on the table, I will get more joy out of fleshing out this story in due course. Something I would be unable to do if I signed the gag orders demanded of me.

A receipt will be required in your case for upholding one’s consumer rights in Australia for damages, see How compensation is claimed section in:

If you wanted full compensation for the purchase of the suitcase, a receipt will be necessary. If you caught a taxi, if the journey was reasonable and you have receipts for it, you should be able to seek reimbursement of these as well under the ACL.

As @meltam has indicated, if you have no receipts you may have no choice but accept the compensation being offered. The reasons are outlined in my earlier post as it can’t be substantiated what the value of the suitcase was.

The other point is the ACL (or action through NCAT) possibly won’t apply if damage was caused on or after arrival in an Asian airport. In such case, restitution would be through the laws in the other country or the Montreal Convention 1999. This article gives a bit of an overview…

Under the Montreal Convention of 1999, there are specific processes which need to be followed for any success.

Edit: As outlined in the article, under the Montreal Convention you may be entitled to replacement value. Working out replacement value is indicated by the travel insurance example where it is the depreciated value based on the age of the damaged item. For a suitcase bought immediately before travel, it will be near to or the price paid for the suitcase. If it is a 5, 10+ year old suitcase, the replacement value will be approaching zero the older the suitcase is. Like for travel insurance claims, the depreciated value is based on the price at purchase and why a receipt is needed.


Could you maybe go back to the store where you bought the suitcase and see whether they might help with providing some type of proof of purchase similar to a receipt. Hopefully the purchase might still be found on their store computer to be looked up by the sold suitcase brand and price? A long shot but worth a try?


I’ve rarely made a purchase of that value these days without being asked at the register for a mobile number and some other details for the invoice/receipt. It may be data gathering, but it has also proven effective with warranty and for electrical goods recalls.


Thanks for the detailed response and associated links.

I will try to get details from the store, but even then, it’s clear the airline pays in USD and ny bank like all retail banks will fleeced me on the FX rate and then levy a TT fee on a deposit in foreign currency, meaning I will receive nowhere near whatever an improved offer superficially looks like.

Interesting what you say about being asked for mobile number in order to receive a receipt. I too was asked often for this but since xmas I note that I am never asked by staff at Officeworks for my mobile nor am I offered a receipt (printed). I always have to ask for either of these. Of course at times I forget to ask.

Thanks for your reply. I have not had a chance yet to look into the ACCC papers you kindly suggested, but I did hear (and will look for evidence for) that in the EU no receipt is needed. In fact 15 years ago or so I arrived in NYC with a damaged suitcase and United Airlines - after I filled in the required form - gave me a brand spanking new suitcase (which seemed to be of similar quality to mine) at the arrivals hall at JFK. Now THAT is service.

So when you arrived you took the luggage to baggage services and showed them? They photographed it and had you fill in a form?

Anytime it has happened to me - over 50 years - 3 times with Qantas and twice with American airline if the bag was unusable and not repairable they gave you a new similar one on the spot.

Never had a problem. Presumably the airlines are indemnified by the outsourced baggage handlers

On arrival at Kuala Lumpur Int’l Airport (KLIA), a fellow passenger saw the three legged case on the carousel before I saw it. I searched and found the relevant office to report damaged or delayed luggage. It is the one office for all airlines.
A report was provided to the airline and a copy to me.
Staff also took photos and emailed me. I did not have a phone with me so could not take photos.
The airline has a complete set of the report, photos from the airport and photos from the hotel reception whose staff remarked about the “see-through case”.
Airport staff told me that it would not be cheap to repair the case and that as I am in town for 4 days there is no chance of me obtaining quotes for repair, handing it over to one person to be repaired and collecting the case before I depart Kuala Lumpur. They also had no idea what warranty a repairer would give.

In addition I thought: even if I did the above, which given my short stay in town I could not do, how will I secure my valuables, gifts and clothes? Stay in a hotel with everything spread out in the cupboard?

To clarify: by “disposed” I mean I left it in my Kuala Lumpur hotel. I wasn’t meant to carry it to SYD was I? And as aiport staff told me, “given you’re in KL for a few days it makes no sense to waste a day or two running around getting quotes because even if you get a great quote, the case will not be repaired in time for you”.

Exactly my experience with United, see earlier post. Looking at blogs on this issue it seems that every airline decides how many hurdles to place in front of the hapless passenger. QF and VA are not good sports from what I read.
But NZ received a rave review where the pax received, as youand I mentioned, a replacement case on the spot.

The world, unfortunately is not perfect, but if you have receipts/records you may get some recompense.

Given the angst that a damaged suit case has caused you, perhaps you might reconsider any further international travel, where you are beyond the scope of Australian consumer remedies.

30 years ago I received a new, good quality Delsey from BA on arrival at JFK when my old luggage had its side smashed open. These days a box is about all they might offer although new luggage at the point of arrival would be expected.

My current strategy is to never buy luggage more than very modest value, ie throwaways, because the luggage handlers can be relied on to be luggage handlers with a mission, and the mission is speed not care even when both are prized by we pax.

This might relieve some of the feeling of impotence when dealing with it.

I think a key issue is how slow and behind regulators are in Oz. How is it that in the US, many receive replacement cases of a high order? But not in Oz? One blog I found mentions, as I posted earlier, that Air NZ was fantastic when a pax arrived in the US and the bag was damaged. A new case was offered forthwith. I also read that in the EU, it is a simple process for pax to obtain relief from an airline. Seems that the airlines are writing the compensation rules in Oz.

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You’re right about “modest” value but if the price is too “modest” so may be the quality and the bag may not do its job either for several trips and may even break down in the first trip.

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Buying well is necessary. Even an expensive bag can be damaged on the first trip. We have a $45 piece that has so far survived 2 round the world experiences unscathed and one upper mid-level that had 2 of 4 wheel knocked off by QF between LAX and MEL on the first RTW. QF required us to take it to their local repair agent (not onerous in our case since it was 2 blocks from my office) – 2 weeks later they reported it was unrepairable and gave us a new case.

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