Why you should declare valuables before flying

This is why you should declare your valuables before boarding a flight. The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission dismissed the complaint lodged against Indian Airlines by a Prabhadevi-based doctor, after the airlines lost his bag containing valuables worth over Rs 10 lakh.

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Lost it, completely: On arriving in Mumbai, Reddy learnt that his suitcase, which contained valuables worth Rs 10,64,000, was missing. Since the bag weighed 10 kg, the airline offered a compensation of Rs 450 per kg for the loss. Representation pic

Dr R Govind Reddy had boarded a Mumbai-bound flight from New Delhi back in 2000, and had arrived to find his bag missing.

Since the bag weighed 10 kg, the Airline offered a compensation of Rs 450 per kg for the loss. An upset Reddy then approached the consumer forum, which dismissed his claim after it was revealed that Reddy had not declared the valuables while boarding in Delhi, to avoid paying additional fees.

On February 9, 2000, Reddy boarded IC-165 to come to Mumbai. He handed over his baggage to counter staff, who provided him with a tag attached to his ticket.

On arriving in Mumbai, Reddy learnt that his VIP suitcase, which contained valuables worth Rs 10,64,000, was missing. It included a PhD thesis running into 3,000 pages, an expensive camera, Rs 70,000 in cash, a gold chain, three medical textbooks, and a World Picture Fair catalogue.

After Indian Airlines completed its investigations, they offered him a paltry sum of Rs 4,500 as compensation. Shocked by the amount, Reddy approached consumer court. The airline, represented by advocate Sharleen Lobo, cited provisions of the Carriage by Air Act, 1972 for domestic carriage, which is used to calculate the compensation amount.

A bench comprising presiding member PN Kashalkar and member Dhanraj Khamatkar in their order observed, “The complainant should have given declaration at Indian Airlines counter in Delhi that his baggage contained valuable articles worth more than Rs 10,00,000…passenger flying by any flight is required to take his valuables along with him in his cabin.

He should not have left his valuables in the baggage, which he had entrusted to Indian Airlines Counter…this was required by him as per the clear-cut term printed on the ticket issued to the complainant. ”

The court further ruled, “The lost baggage of the complainant weighed 10 kg and therefore, the Airline rightly offered amount of Rs 4,500, but the complainant was not ready to accept the same by signing discharge the voucher sent by the Indian Airlines… he had not followed the terms and therefore…we are finding that there is virtually no deficiency in service on the part of the Indian Airlines.” 

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