Q: Aigle Azur airline lost my checked bag last November on a flight to Paris Orly Airport. The airline has refused to make a “determination” on my claim, despite numerous e-mails. Most recently, Aigle Azur asked me to send all my claim information to France by registered snail mail, which cost an additional $20.

My travel insurance company, Allianz, won’t help me until it receives a determination from the airline.

As a longtime customer of Allianz, I’m frustrated that it hasn’t stepped up with any assistance in how to go about getting this settled. It’s been more than six months. Can you help me get my $1,640 back for my lost bag?

A: Aigle Azur is a small, regional French airline. It should have taken better care of your checked bag. But when it lost your luggage — and that happens even with the best airlines — it should have quickly processed your claim.

Six months is preposterously long. Maybe Aigle Azur is trying to set a luggage claim record. And that’s fine, but the least it could do is send you that determination letter, a vital document that contains important information about your loss.

Allianz is correct; it’s difficult to process a claim without that letter. That’s because the insurance company doesn’t have the information it needs to substantiate your claim. Difficult, but not impossible. Insurance companies often have other ways of verifying the information they need. You’re right, maybe Allianz could have done more.

Your loss is covered by an international treaty called the Montreal Convention. It holds your airline responsible for loss or damage to checked baggage. You have seven days to file a claim, and damages are capped at about $1,500. The more the bag weighs, the more the airline pays.

Aigle Azur would not be legally required to pay $1,640. That might account for the foot-dragging, although it’s impossible to know for sure. It could just be garden-variety French bureaucracy. Although I don’t publish the names, numbers and e-mail addresses of Aigle Azur on my consumer-advocacy site — this is the first complaint I’ve received about the company — there’s an e-mail address (bag.piraigle@azur.fr) for baggage claims that proved helpful.

You collected an impressive paper trail of correspondence between yourself, the airline and your insurance company. Nice work! A thorough trail of paperwork is essential to a speedy resolution.

I contacted both Aigle Azur and Allianz on your behalf. In response, the airline promised a $233 refund, and Allianz paid $1,000 of your claim. Your patience is admirable. Next time you fly to Orly with Aigle Azur, maybe you shouldn’t check any bags.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.