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Research report

What to do when your travel unravels

Unfortunately, there’s a chance you’ll encounter problems while on holiday – be it flight cancellations, lost luggage or unexpected expenses. We’ve looked at how to avoid common travel traps.

Q. The travel agency didn’t book our tickets on the agreed date and now the price of flights has skyrocketed. Who’s liable for the additional costs?

A. The agency should foot the bill as it was responsible for arranging the contract between you and the airline. As a service provider, it’s obligated by the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) to carry out the service with reasonable care and skill.

The CGA’s reasonable care and skill provisions may prove useful when it comes to other travel agency-related issues. You can call on the CGA if the agency:

  • arranges your international flights to Europe, but doesn’t leave enough time for you to make your connection in LAX
  • books you into a hotel on the outskirts of town when you specifically asked for accommodation within stone’s throw of inner-city attractions.

But there are occasions where the agency is not liable. If you arrive at the airport to discover you’ve been bumped from your flight, you should turn to the airline for compensation as it’s the responsible party.

Q. My luggage has been lost in transit. Can I claim compensation?

A. On an international flight, your luggage is covered by the Montreal Convention. The convention sets out the maximum amount an airline has to pay if your luggage is lost, damaged or delayed. The sum is about $2300 for each passenger.

If your luggage is delayed, the airline’s compensation is limited to expenses for essential items. Typically, airlines don’t accept liability for consequential losses.

To claim for damaged luggage, you must write to the airline within seven days of getting your bags back. For delayed luggage, you must claim within 21 days.

On a domestic flight, your rights are set out in the Carriage of Goods Act. Here, the airline is liable for loss or damage up to $2000.

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Our full report

For more advice, check out our full report on avoiding travel traps. We’ve covered your rights when it comes to cancelled flights, rental car crashes and more.

Learn more