The Air Berlin saga: how they lost my luggage and refuse to refund (and they’re not even sorry)

How annoying and frustrating is it when companies provides awful customer support and obstinately refuse to pay compensation owed by statutory right?

This is my story about my adventures with Air Berlin. After loosing my luggage, they provided poor customer support and, more worryingly, they refused to refund the purchase for essential items.

The flights went all well and I landed safely at destination. Well, at least I did, my luggage decided to go on a detour. And as in most cases, bad luck comes in threes.

The first step to do in these cases is to log a report so that baggage handling companies and airports can attempt to locate the naughty self-wondering luggage. So that is what I did. Report lodged, I had only left to wait for some news. Because Air Berlin is really committed to get to their customers’ hearts, you would expect them to get in touch with an apology, you would expect them to be proactive with updates about the problem, or at least to give some sign that they know that you exist.

None of that, no emails, not even a word.

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A few weeks go by and suddenly, my baggage appears at my door. It came back to its beloved owner, walking on its two legs. What a surprise, considering I had no idea it had been found or was getting delivered. Maybe that’s how Air Berlin loves to do cheeky surprises to its customers.

During those weeks I decided to buy myself a few “superfluous” things that went lost with my luggage. You know what I mean, things like underwear, toothpaste, a shaver. Or the type of things which you need in a rainy country like Scotland, for example a rain jacket and waterproof shoes.

Air Berlin thinks it’s perfectly fine for their passengers to go around wearing pants they wore for 2 weeks, with bad breath, a wild beard and to get soaked in the rain.

I would have liked Air Berlin to refund me for these purchases. In fact there is something called “Montreal Convention” in which all airlines agree to provide rights to their passengers, including compensation due to cancelled flights, lost baggage or, like in my case, reimbursements for purchasing essential items.

As my travel insurance at the time did not cover this type of incidents, I had a right to request Air Berlin to refund such costs. I went on a special section of their website, and filled in a claim with all of my flight details and attaching all the receipts of the purchase for the essential items.

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After submitting my request for compensation, I got a rather reassuring confirmation message which said, it would have taken “a little time” for Air Berlin to get back to me.

Now, I didn’t ask myself how long “a little time” is. I would have thought perhaps a day, maximum a week or a fortnight. However the ones of us who acquired a certain wisdom, would argue that time is a relative concept. And in fact it is now over two months since my request and I haven’t heard a thing.

From time to time I have been chasing the matter, and so here is a summary of my Air Berlin saga.

  • 08/09 Embarked on an Air Berlin flight
  • 09/09 Luggage did not turn up at the belt at Berlin Tegel, I lodge a “missing baggage” report the same day
  • 24/09 Luggage turns up unexpectedly at my door
  • 27/09 Lodged a request for refund, providing all of the details of my flight and attaching all receipts of purchases
  • 11/10 Sent an email chasing up the complaint
  • 20/10 Received an email asking me to take part in a customer satisfaction survey to answer how well they managed my claim (by taking the link I could also win a free flight with magnificent Air Berlin. What more can one want from life?)
  • 24/10 Got in touch with Air Berlin via their twitter channel, been told to wait patiently as they would chase the matter with the Guest Relations team
  • 02/11 Chased Air Berlin via twitter a second time, been told to wait patiently (I answered back advising that they better check the office at Guest Relations just in case a Carbon Monoxide leak might have silently killed all of the folks in there)
  • Sent a “Mahnverfahren”. In Germany this is a judicial procedure which orders a payment from another party. It’s effectively one step before bringing matters to a Small Claims Court.
  • 07/12 Received an email from Air Berlin asking me to provide… receipts of essential items purchased (yes, again)
  • … and the comic Air Berlin saga goes on

My question is, why would a company not be answering back this sheer scale of complaints, letters and emails?

I can only think of two reasons: they have an incredible amount of complaints that they are unable to handle (and this shows that they clearly have issues not only with dealing with complaints but actually with the causes of the complaints); or they are deliberately following a practice of avoiding refunds.

Either way, is this a company that can be trusted, especially considering they should provide the maximum of the safety once you are up in the air?

Have you had a problem with Air Berlin? Perhaps they have a practice of systematically avoiding refunds? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

  • I also had the same thing happen to me . I had a lay over in Germany and when I arrived in NYC my luggage was no where to be found . I’ve called countless times sent emails reached out on Facebook .. nothing … no clue if I’ll ever get my suitcase back

  • Never take this Airline again.
    They are undependable.!
    The same thing happened to me. After 9 months, I am still waiting to be rembursed.! Not even one answer .!

  • Just happened to me and 20 other passengers. Flight from Berlin to Vienna 17.5.17. I just hope, I get my baggage back.:(?!? Don’t know how long it will take! Please share your experiences.

    • Make sure you lodge an official “lost baggage” case and you will be assigned a case number. Then it depends on what happens. If you bag gets found within 21 days, you can claim a refund on expenses you incurred.
      If your baggage does not get found within 21 days you can get a refund for it being lost.
      In either case, after 21 days, you will have to make a second request through Airberlin’s complaint form. Wait for a few weeks but it is almost impossible that they will ever answer. So at that stage, do not waste any more time. File a complaint to the SOP of your country or in Germany at https://soep-online.de/request-form-flight.html

  • Me too. Just got back from a trip. On the way there, Air Berlin lost my luggage for 4 days. I filed a claim. When I tried to check status: They did not answer the phone number they provided. They did not reply to an email provided on the lost luggage website. My hotel helped out by calling them several times, and finally they called me back. They claimed I would be reimbursed for necessary expenses. I filled out the form online, but it wouldn’t accept receipt images uploaded from my phone because they exceed their file size limit (seriously, how much trouble do they want their customers to go to?). There appears to be no easy way to check status. The lost luggage desk at the airport was unstaffed, and the phone they provide to call when the desk is unstaffed went unanswered. Ok, I got my suitcase back, right? Better than having it lost, right?

    On the flight back home…they lost my luggage again! Really!

    And now I wait…

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