Almost six months have passed and Toronto woman Shamita Kumar is still looking for a piece of luggage her mom was supposed to have with her in Sri Lanka.
“My aunt was sick, so we were really there to take care of her,” Kumar told CTV News Toronto in an interview.
They packed a variety of things in the suitcase, like bras for a mastectomy and other items to help Kumar’s aunt through treatment. But, Kumar said the bag never even left Canada.
“It moved to Montreal and then it came back to Toronto,” she said.
Kumar could see where the bag was thanks to an AirTag that was inside. She said she watched the bag travel along Highway 401, until it stopped at a storage facility in Etobicoke, Ont.
“We’ve been in contact with [Air Canada] for over six months now just trying to figure out how we can get our bag back, or compensation or something,” she said.
The storage unit where Kumar’s AirTag has been pinging is the very same spot where Nakita Rees’ bag appeared to have ended up.
For Rees, her luggage had been there since her honeymoon, which was in September, and, at the time, Air Canada told Rees the bag had been donated to charity. During that couple’s hunt, her husband had managed to get inside the storage facility, peek inside the unit, and said he could see bags with labels on them.
Toronto police investigated what they said were four reports of stolen baggage, but ultimately declared the luggage had been obtained legally.
When Kumar called the storage facility to ask about her bag, she was told Air Canada is not a client of that location, and that she’d need to get police involved or permission to go inside – so, she called police.
“They kind of brushed it off saying, ‘Hey ,we can’t really help you with what you want, but there’s a story that was very similar to yours that was put out recently, so maybe if you contact the person in the story, maybe they can help you get to your luggage,’” Kumar recalled, adding it would have been “helpful if police “at least [filed] a report or [took] us to that storage unit.”
A Toronto police spokesperson told CTV News Toronto the service “did investigate several reports of lost luggage in January and ultimately determined they weren’t criminal matters, as it was related to the airline carrier’s policy around unclaimed luggage. We are no longer investigating.”
“I don’t accept the theory that just because there’s a contract between an airline and a third party that it makes it legal to steal someone’s bag,” Gabor Lukacs, president of Air Passengers Rights, told CTV News Toronto. “I am shocked that it is happening again.”
Shamita Kumar and her mother have been trying to get their bag back for almost six months. (Courtesy of Shamita Kumar)
CTV News Toronto reached out to Air Canada to request an interview but no one was made available. A spokesperson did say they knew about Kumar’s case and were still looking for the bag.
Kumar said they have also not received any compensation for the lost luggage.
“It just seems really suspicious given the fact that it’s a storage unit but it’s not associated with Air Canada, but that’s where all the luggage [is] apparently,” she said.
Her mother’s flight was with Air Canada and Sri Lankan Airlines. According to Kumar, they got some money back from Sri Lankan Airlines. But since the bag never left Canada, they were told by the airline there was nothing more they could do.
“Sri Lankan Airlines was a lot more helpful,” said Kumar. “But I don’t think that it was their responsibility.”
According to the Montreal Convention, if a piece of luggage is not found by an airline after 21 days, compensation must be paid.
“It doesn’t mean that the airline can stop searching for it,” said Lukacs. “I would urge the police to continue investigating because based on my understanding on how airlines and relations work, this is not a normal matter. This is not a civil matter anymore.”
For Kumar what’s so frustrating is she can where her bag is, and it’s just a 30-minute drive from her house. She and her mother have sent numerous emails to Air Canada with bag descriptions and screenshots of the AirTag, but they have yet to get any traction.
“It just seems silly at this point where we know where it is we can tell you exactly the location,” said Kumar. “All we need is just Air Canada to support us to go get that bag itself.”