A Lantzville photographer has reached a settlement with Air Canada after some lights from his luggage were stolen.

Airline staff told him to file an insurance claim but after contacting CHEK News he learned Canadian air passengers have rights and he may have another option.

Photographer Alec Watson has yet to replace the lights but says he was pleased Thursday after the airline offered him an agreeable settlement.

“All right! Take that,” says Watson about accepting Air Canada’s offer. “And then two seconds later I was ‘Oh I’m really grateful.”

The theft of his lights happened during a flight home from Los Angeles in February.

After reporting it, airline staff told Watson he should go through his insurance.

But after contacting CHEK News he learned airline passengers have recourse through the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal.

Watson filed a claim and submitted a video as evidence of how well his lights had been secured. He sent some weights, in the same tub, off a 10 feet drop.

And, while damaged, the tub and gear were still intact.

Air Canada offered him a settlement in the hours before the hearing.

“I got a response back from Air Canada saying ‘we’d like to settle for the full amount of the Montreal Convention claim plus your court costs. Is that acceptable to you?’ and I said ‘why yes, that is acceptable to me. Thank you very much.”

An air passenger rights advocate commends Watson for following through.

“The airlines count on most people giving up,” says Dr. Gabor Lukacs Founder of Air Passenger Rights.

“This should be a lesson for travelers that they do have rights. They just have to spend the time to enforce it, unfortunately.”

Watson says it was worth the effort in the end.

“It takes a while to go through the process but it seems that legally there is a responsibility for the carrier to get you your bags back.”

The settlement left Watson $700 short of what the lights cost but it was less than his $1000 deductible if he had filed an insurance claim.

CHEK News reached out to Air Canada for comment but did not get a response before the deadline for this story.

Kendall Hanson