Normally, this would not be worth noting. The big, and pleasant, surprise, which is worth a pat on the back to British Airways, is that the airline reimbursed all our expenses due to the wayward bag! Far different from the - how shall we say this politely - typical nasty treatment of passengers by such as Ryanair, who have to be coerced by the authorities to redress nasty behaviour e.g. here, BA dealt with our case quickly, politely and efficiently. Within five days of our return home, we had entered a claim online, sent in our invoices as requested by email and been reimbursed through an electronic deposit to our bank account. Well done British Airways.
What is all the more remarkable is that BA could have been a lot stickier with compensation. According to the AirTransport Users Council, the UK's consumer council for air travellers,
"There are no set rules for how airlines must assess baggage claims. For delayed baggage, some airlines offer immediate one-off payments at a set amount to cover emergency purchases (such as toiletries or underwear). Some will pay a set amount per day up to a maximum of days. Others will not make cash payments at the time, but prefer to reimburse expenditure on essential items on seeing the receipts. But the general principle is to cover essential expenditure resulting from the delay to delivery of the baggage."The airline liability limit for lost or delayed luggage is 1000 Special Drawing Rights (IMF conversion table here) per passenger per the Montreal Convention. Or maybe not. There seems to be confusion about the amount, since BA itself says its liability is actually 1131 SDRs, or about £1000, as does Delta and the AUC, but the European Commission's Ireland section says it is 1000 SDRs, equivalent to about 1134 euros. FlightMole.com has informative articles here and here on the differences between what airlines may wish to offer as compensation and what are the legal liabilities of baggage delay and claim.
The European Commission has passed laws that put additional responsibilities on air carriers for passenger treatment in cases of cancelled or delayed flights, denied boarding and the like in Regulation EC No. 261/2004. The rules apply to international flights into or out of the EC.
Mishandled baggage still accounts for the 3rd highest number of complaints received by the AUC according to its 2009/10 annual report published in July, though the number was down slightly from the previous year (maybe just in keeping with faltering air travel from the recession?). The AUC's special 2009 report on luggage problems showed that many airlines are much more tight-fisted and mean than BA, with Ryanair apparently a leader in that department as it drew particular mention from the AUC: "Some airlines set their own limits on how much passengers can spend while their bag is delayed. For example, complaints to the AUC show that Ryanair often limits passengers to £15 whatever the length of the delay."
Now if BA would only be as good at delivering baggage in the first place as it is at providing compensation for delay, it would be top class.