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Travellers who lose their luggage on WestJet Airlines' domestic flights should be able to exceed a $250 limit on their claims, according to a preliminary decision by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Gabor Lukacs, an assistant math professor at the University of Manitoba, complained to the agency that WestJet's liability limit on bags is too low - even though the airline hasn't lost his luggage.

"I travel a lot by air, and every time I get to the luggage carousel, I stress over it and wonder what will I do if my bags don't arrive," he said in an interview yesterday. Mr. Lukacs, 27, said one of his nicer suitcases alone is worth twice WestJet's liability restriction.

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He said he tried unsuccessfully to persuade WestJet management to voluntarily raise the limit, forcing him to turn to the CTA. Other carriers have higher domestic limits, including Air Canada at $1,500 and Porter Airlines Inc. at $1,000.

Calgary-based WestJet argued there isn't harm that needs to be remedied. "WestJet submits that a person always has the option of insuring baggage on commercial terms, or travelling on another carrier," the CTA said in a letter this week to Mr. Lukacs. "WestJet further submits that it has a commercial obligation to earn a profit for its shareholders."

The CTA said WestJet's domestic cap on luggage liability is unreasonable, and gave the airline until April 18 to develop a response. The interests of consumers outweigh WestJet's commercial obligations to keep costs down, the CTA said.

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About the Author

Brent Jang is a business reporter in The Globe and Mail’s Vancouver bureau. He joined the Globe in 1995. His former positions include transportation reporter in Toronto, energy correspondent in Calgary and Western columnist for Report on Business. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway student newspaper. Mr. More

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