Lost Wages Resulting From Travel With Air Berlin

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Apr 3, 2017
I have lost wages resulting from travel with Air Berlin. I am writing here as I have exhausted all avenues with them, having reached out to them via email, phone, and through their automated system. I have been stonewalled at every turn, receiving either no help or intentional misdirection (see 30 March notes). I am a professional underwater photographer and was traveling to Austria to have my equipment customized. Due to the size of the equipment, I had no option but to check it with the airline. Air Berlin lost my luggage both to and from Austria, losing it for 36 hours on my way to Austria, and then losing it for over six days on my return. The luggage they lost was customized underwater camera equipment critical to my livelihood and income; I cannot work without it. As a result, on my return home, I lost wages for over six days. Despite my calling every day, and emailing the airline, no one was able to tell me where my luggage might be, whether it was lost or stolen. I not only lost wages but also suffered severe emotional distress as a result of this issue: I spent six long days in tears and with a pit in my stomach over my irreplaceable gear before it finally showed up, with no explanation. I have asked the airline for the compensation I feel I am entitled to through the Montreal Convention: “As the amount of money lost due to this delay exceeds the amount covered by the Montreal Convention, I am seeking reimbursement of the full amount allowed under the Montreal Convention, £1,113.”

I have not only received no response to my emails, but a call they had me schedule--and that I was supposed to receive from them--never came. Further, I was purposely misdirected by a representative (see March 30 notes). I have documented every interaction and can provide detailed notes regarding each interaction including emails and phone calls. Below is a sample of my records, and what I've been dealing with:

When my luggage was missing for several days with no one able to help, I finally reached out to the Air Berlin CEO, a Thomas Winkelmann, for assistance. I received a reply to my email from a different employee, a Nicole Fasolt. She said they were working on it. My luggage finally arrived at its destination, six days late. When I finally got it, the relief I felt caused me to burst into tears. However relieved I was, it does not make up for the loss of more than six days of income.

11 March, 15 March and 23 March 2017:
I reached out to Air Berlin about my lost wages. Having received no satisfaction from the airline regarding my issue, I again emailed the Air Berlin CEO Mr. Thomas Winkelmann. I reached out to him on 11 March, 15 March and 23 March. I have records of those emails, which went unanswered.

ŸThursday 23 March 2017:
I received an automated email from Air Berlin telling me to schedule a phone call. I logged into their automated system and scheduled an appointment for them to call me between 1500-1800 on Tuesday, 28 March 2017.

ŸTuesday 28 March 2017:
Waited for the phone call I'd scheduled with Air Berlin. Not knowing if the 1500-1800 referred to German or US EST time, I waited by the phone all day for this call, which never came. I finally gave up around 430pm EST and called the number on their website:

I called the Air Berlin number on their website 917-261-3165. I explained to the customer service representative that I had an issue I was trying to resolve regarding compensation for my luggage. He said that I should speak to a supervisor and to call back Wednesday. I told him I would be unable to call Wednesday, but would call Thursday. He said he would leave a note on his supervisor’s desk letting them know that I’d be calling then.

ŸThursday 30 March 2017:
I called the Air Berlin number on their website (same as above, 917-261-3165). I explained to a different customer service representative that I had spoken with a representative on Tuesday and was advised that there were no supervisors available and that I should call back. He replied that, again, no supervisors were available at that time, but that one would be available in “one and a half hours”, and to call back then. I confirmed what he said, stating, “so I should call back in an hour and half and a supervisor will be available? He confirmed, “yes.” I called back in an hour and half, what turns out was 8pm German time, and spoke with a third representative. She told me the supervisors all leave at 8pm German time. I asked the representative if “I was told to call back at this time because the other agent knew there would be no supervisor there at this time to help me”? Her response was, “probably.”

After this last phone call I emailed Elliott.org. I was advised to post here.
I am beyond frustrated. I want the fair compensation I am entitled to. Thank you for any help.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
New York
They got the camera back which is a miracle in itself.

Were you scheduled to fly home right when your next job was scheduled? How much time was there between when you were supposed to return home ad your job was to begin?

This is what the Montreal Convention states - have you applied for the maximum? You would probably have to sue them in court for the remainder.
Delayed passengers and luggage
An airline is liable to pay for damages up to 4,694 SDRs if you are delayed. If your luggage is delayed, the airline is liable to pay for damages up to 1,131 SDRs. The airline is not liable for damages where the airline took all reasonable measures or it was impossible to take such measures.

You must make a written complaint about your delayed luggage within 21 days of you receiving the luggage.

More information on delayed flights is available in our document oncompensation for overbooked, cancelled and delayed flights in the EU.

If you have applied and been denied anything, or if you applied and you still have more losses, you might have to go to small claims court and sue them.
Nov 14, 2016
Anon, I'm sorry for your troubles.

But to be the bearer of bad news but I do not believe you are entitled to compensation under the Montreal Convention. No airline compensates people for lost wages as a matter of course and it is specifically excluded in the Contract of Carriage. The Montreal Convention is about lost or damaged luggage the replacement of those items, not of the replacement of potential income. If airlines did this then ticket prices would skyrocket. I travel regularly and bill about $300 an hour. No airline is going to compensate me $2,000+ if I miss a day of billing because a $500 flight is late or canceled. So I would not advise trying to get compensation for this as it is a non starter and will result in your letter being File 13'd. Suing them in court is also not likely to be successful as again compensation for lost wages is excluded in the CoC though laws in Europe differ than those here.

If you rented equipment, you might be able to get compensated for that. But you would need to be able to produce receipts of expenses. The Montreal Convention does not entitle someone to an automatic payment. It is a reimbursement program and not a compensation program.

You may also be able to see if you can get some vouchers from the airline for future use to help offset your loss. If you choose this path, rewrite your letter to be brief and professional (for instance, "bursting into tears" is not likely to get you sympathy from an airline employee) manner. Send it to their customer care department with a clear and reasonable ask of compensation (perhaps $300 in vouchers). Unfortunately you've already gone to the CEO's office multiple times which means they're unlikely to accommodate this request but it never hurts to ask. If you don't get a response in a week (or don't like the response), feel free then to escalate to the next person in the chain. Wait a week and repeat. Do not engage with them via telephone because that is never to your benefit.

In the future I would encourage you to ship this equipment ahead of time prior to leaving for your destination. It's quite likely that the airline would not be responsible and pay anything as items like cameras are not generally covered under the lost or damaged baggage provisions in the CoCs. Moreover, if the equipment is that valuable it's likely that it exceeds the maximum insurable limit (even if you purchase the extra insurance to raise the loss limit). Using a shipping company would allow you to insure it for the proper amount and verify it has arrived at the destination prior to your arrival.


Almost all airlines Contract/Conditions of Carriage limit their liability for special or high valued items, which normally includes electronics and cameras. This means if your equipment was lost, they may not have reimbursed you the lost.

In the future, you may want to find another way to send the equipment or possibly insure it through another source.


John Galbraith

Staff Member
Managing Director
Jan 22, 2017
Anon, I'm sorry for your troubles.

But to be the bearer of bad news but I do not believe you are entitled to compensation under the Montreal Convention. No airline compensates people for lost wages as a matter of course and it is specifically excluded in the Contract of Carriage. The Montreal Convention is about lost or damaged luggage the replacement of those items, not of the replacement of potential income.

Hi Kahhss,

I think it most cases and in this case you are right: you will not get compensation for consequential loss because of the Contract of Carriage.

However if i am reading it right there have been cases in the US which have held that in same circumstances you can recover lost wages see here for a report on Rubin v. Air China Ltd:

"In analyzing the type of damages that are recoverable, the court noted that art. 19 allows for recovery of “foreseeable, consequential damages such as lost wages or profits that are occasioned by the delay."

That case relied upon Ikekpeazu v. Air France, in which the plaintiff was a busy surgeon who claimed he was required to cancel surgeries, procedures, and consultations he was scheduled to perform during his nearly week-long delay. The court held that the plaintiff’s “allegations of financial injury resulting from the delay in his return to practice provide[d] a basis for a claim” under the Montreal Treaty.

As well as the Conditions of Carriage probably most claims fail because the 2nd part of art. 19 states:

"Nevertheless, the carrier shall not be liable for damage occasioned by delay if it proves that it and its servants and agents took all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for it or them to take such measures."

Sorry the legal debate - back to the matter in hand!
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