A couple who lost all their luggage last month on a flight from Phuket to Hong Kong were left badly out of pocket after the airline and an insurance firm they used offered them compensation they say is shockingly low.
On August 21 Justin Eagle and his girlfriend Yeung Yee-ping caught a return flight from Phuket to Hong Kong on Hong Kong Airlines, checking in one piece of luggage weighing 17.5kg at the Hong Kong Airlines desk at Phuket airport.
The luggage was lost in transit despite being tagged and stickered at the desk. They were sent a missing luggage report form from the airline to itemise what was in the lost bag.
They did this and listed the approximate cost of each item missing. They included two cameras, an iPod, two pairs of Ray-Ban sunglasses and branded clothing and cosmetics. The amount came to HK$34,000.
Last Wednesday they received an e-mail from the airline saying that they would receive HK$2,600 in compensation.
Eagle thought they would get more positive news from online travel agent Zuji Hong Kong, from which they bought their holiday package and travel insurance. But despite paying for full worldwide comprehensive travel insurance from Zuji Insurance, the couple soon realised that this was not the case.
A maximum claim of HK$500,000 can be made for medical expenses incurred overseas but the maximum claim for lost baggage is HK$5,000.
Eagle is a New Zealand citizen who has lived in Hong Kong for the last six years. He works under the Native English-speaking Teacher (NET) scheme.
'You take it for granted that you'll get reasonably compensated if the likes of Hong Kong Airlines lose your luggage but it's not the case,' he said. 'Then when you think it doesn't really matter that much because you've taken out full insurance, you find out you can only claim up to HK$5,000. It's shocking. The airline's offer of HK$2,600 doesn't even meet the cost of our suitcase.'
The airline apologised for the inconvenience caused and confirmed that it compensated the couple according to company policy, which was based on the weight of their check-in baggage. An airline spokesman said further information could not be disclosed as it was 'still in negotiations with the claimant'.