A suitcase that went astray during an Air Canada flight in September ended up in the hands of an unnamed charity while the airline claimed it couldn’t find it, Toronto police have confirmed.
The ordeal started in September, when Nakita Rees and her husband flew back to Canada from their honeymoon in Italy and Greece. On the final leg of their journey, a flight from Montreal to Toronto, one of their three suitcases went missing.
The couple filed a missing baggage claim, but Air Canada did not produce the suitcase. Fortunately, they’d placed an Apple AirTag tracking device in the bag, which enabled them to monitor its location.
The bag remained in Montreal for a month before heading down the highway to Toronto. But it was not on its way back to Rees and her husband. Rather, it sat in a public storage facility in Etobicoke in the Greater Toronto Area for three months. The couple visited the site but were unable to gain access to the bag.
They contacted Air Canada repeatedly, sending them screenshots showing the bag’s location. But the airline failed to return it or explain why the bag was being held there, and Rees and her husband eventually reported the incident to law enforcement.
Toronto police said in a statement that theft reports from four people related to lost bags with AirTag trackers led them to the Etobicoke storage facility. They gained access with a search warrant.
“Through investigation, it was determined that a charity organization that is contracted by the airline carrier had lawfully obtained the luggage from the airline after the luggage was not claimed. The luggage was transported to a storage facility in Etobicoke,” police said in a statement to Canada’s CTV News.
Rees claims police told her around 500 bags had been found in the storage unit, several of them with beeping AirTags inside.
On Monday, Rees’s husband received a phone call from Air Canada’s global baggage department. The representative apologized and said the bag had been located in a warehouse in Toronto. It was delivered to Rees’s workplace later that day.
Rees said they had already received compensation for the bag, but for less than the total value of the luggage and its contents. They still want the airline to be held accountable for the mistake and are considering further legal action.
In a statement, Air Canada said it provided the couple with the “legally specified maximum compensation of approximately $2,300 [CAD] in October.”
The airline pointed to disruptions related to COVID-19 and the disconnection of the baggage tag from the bag somewhere during the journey. “Despite our best efforts, it was not possible for us to identify the bag’s owner, it was designated as unclaimed, and we moved to compensate the customer,” the airline said in an emailed statement to CTV News.
“Consistent with IATA policy and other carrier practices, customers whose bags cannot be located are eligible for compensation after 21 days and bags whose ownership cannot be determined can be disposed of after 90 days—something we do through a third-party company, which does make donations to charity,” Air Canada continued.
The charity involved has not been named.