A passenger is seeking compensation from Qantas after her checked luggage got run over by a vehicle on the tarmac. Picture: Melissa Chung Why can't you take luggage up an escalator?
A passenger is seeking compensation from Qantas after her checked luggage got run over by a vehicle on the tarmac. Picture: Melissa Chung Why can't you take luggage up an escalator?

'Blatantly unfair': Qantas luggage torn to shreds

WHEN you hand over your luggage at the airport check-in desk, perhaps your only concern is whether or not your bag will make it to the right destination in time.

But it turns out there's a whole other potential for risk, as Melbourne woman Melissa Chung has discovered.

The 32-year-old said her bag was damaged and its contents destroyed when it somehow fell onto the tarmac and was run over by a tug - a vehicle that transports luggage and other items - at Perth airport during the Easter break.

The Qantas passenger said the incident caused more than $3000 worth of damage to her clothes, cosmetics and an Apple laptop, as well as the bag itself, leaving her with barely anything to use during her trip.

Passenger's bag and contents ruined in tarmac accident at Perth airport. Picture: Melissa Chung
Passenger's bag and contents ruined in tarmac accident at Perth airport. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

But a month later, Ms Chung told news.com.au she was still struggling to get much of a response from Qantas. The company has already refused to compensate her for the laptop and cosmetics, which it said shouldn't have been in her luggage in the first place.

The first Ms Chung knew of the damage to her belongings was when her flight landed at Perth Airport and she headed to the luggage carousel.

"My bag was in a giant plastic bag on the carousel with a note saying, 'Come and see us,'" she told news.com.au.

"From all the shredding of the stuff inside, I feel like it must have gotten stuck under a wheel or something, because the dress and the clothes - they're just shredded."

Shreds were torn from her clothes. Picture: Melissa Chung
Shreds were torn from her clothes. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

The traveller was left with little to use during her time in Perth. Picture: Melissa Chung
The traveller was left with little to use during her time in Perth. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

Inside the tattered bag, which was barely intact, Ms Chung found her clothes had been torn to shreds and her laptop had been smashed.

High-end cosmetics in her make-up bag had also been destroyed beyond use.

Ms Chung said Qantas staff told her to take it up with her insurer, but she hadn't taken out travel insurance for the brief interstate break.

"The Qantas staff at Perth were not very helpful and continued to say, 'You should claim this on your insurance', but it was a domestic flight so I didn't have insurance," she said.

"I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to have travel insurance for a domestic flight."

Melissa’s $1500 laptop was badly damaged. Picture: Melissa Chung
Melissa’s $1500 laptop was badly damaged. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

In her limited correspondence with Qantas since, Ms Chung has been asked to provide original receipts for the damaged items, which she said was difficult for things she'd had for more than a few years.

"Similarly, they've asked me for the original receipt for the bag, which again I don't have, and they say they're reviewing it so it can be repaired, which I think is a big stress because it's been shredded."

Ms Chung has been told Qantas would not take responsibility for her laptop as it was not allowed in checked luggage, according to its conditions of carriage.

The policy also warns passengers against packing into their checked baggage fragile, delicate or perishable items, valuable items such as money or jewellery, valuable documents, personal electronic equipment and business or travel documents.

The laptop cover with the computer inside. Picture: Melissa Chung
The laptop cover with the computer inside. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

"If you carry items in contravention of these Conditions of Carriage, we will use all available defences against any claim in respect of any damage, loss or destruction of those items," Qantas says in its policy.

Ms Chung said even though she did tell staff at the check-in desk she had a laptop in her bag, and she was not told to remove it, she now understood it was prohibited.

But she disagreed with the airline's refusal to reimburse her for the ruined cosmetics - items many passengers routinely packed in their checked luggage.

"I think it's blatantly unfair for Qantas to say we won't compensate you for that," she said.

"I don't think it's reasonable to expect people to separate tweezers and other things that aren't allowed to go through security, and put the other stuff in [carry-on baggage].

The state of the bag when Melissa arrived at Perth airport. Picture: Melissa Chung
The state of the bag when Melissa arrived at Perth airport. Picture: Melissa Chung

 

"And the things they say they won't compensate are things like [liquid] foundation and face powder and eye shadow. I don't really know what they expect us to do in relation to those products."

Ms Chung said she was still waiting to hear back from Qantas about whether or not she would get compensation for the other items ruined in the tarmac accident, but felt the process was "going nowhere".

"I expected much better from our national airline," she said. "What is the point in flying Qantas over a budget airline when the customer service is so appalling?"

When contacted by news.com.au, a spokesman for Qantas said the airline would investigate what occurred and reach out to Ms Chung.

"We're very sorry about the damage and any inconvenience caused," the spokesman said.


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