The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to hold hearings sometime this summer on whether the amount of compensation for bags lost on international flights should be increased. Currently, the rate established by the Warsaw Convention is $9.07 a pound. But 15 nations have voted to raise that amount to a maximum of about $1,250 per person. It takes the vote of 30 of the 124 signatory nations to change the treaty.
"Most of the remaining countries are waiting for the U.S.," said George Lapham, assistant general counsel for the Air Transport Assn., the airline industry lobby. "We have every reason to believe that once the U.S. acts, other countries will move swiftly."
Until the compensation limit is raised for international flights, Aviation Consumer Action Project recommends that passengers buy extra insurance for their baggage. Flight insurance is readily available from Mutual of Omaha and other companies at most major airports, said Christopher J. Witkowski, director of the ACAP.
But do not count on the airlines to be generous: Trans World Airlines reimbursed Franklin Mint just $6,475.98 for a lost shipment of coins and precious metals valued at $250,000. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1984 that the limits set by the Warsaw Convention are enforceable.