Lantzville resident Alec Watson has had his luggage go missing on flights before but what he recently experienced left him incensed.

“I was stunned when I saw the empty box. They were brand new lights. It was packed well and I was like how on earth did that happen?” said Watson.

Watson is a professional photographer. His commercials and celebrity shoots have been seen around the world and he depends on his gear. Last month, Watson took an Air Canada flight from Los Angeles to Nanaimo with a stop in Vancouver.

When he was boarding his flight to Nanaimo, he watched his box that contained his lighting equipment being loaded.

“I saw this come up the ramp and because it was clear and I could see what was inside, I knew it was completely empty.”

Watson reported the missing lights immediately to Air Canada but the airline’s response left Watson shocked.

“The first clue that something was going to go wrong was an email that I got from Air Canada that said rest assured you’ll be contacted in the next 35 days and I was like ‘What? That’s a typo. No one would actually write that out.'”

Today Air Canada issued a statement to CHEK News.

“We recommend that items be properly insured for transportation… Our ticket conditions state that Air Canada is unable to accept liability for valuables… or if items are deemed improperly secured or packed.”

But an air passenger advocate says ticket conditions don’t exempt airlines.

“So the airline can not avoid liability in this case and they are liable to the passenger up to $2,100 Canadian at least,” said Dr. Gabor Lukacs of Air Passenger Rights.

Lukacs says most people don’t realize they have recourse, including going to B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

“Airlines refuse fraudulently to pay passengers valid claims because they can get away with it,” said Lukacs.

Watson says the process has left him frustrated and when he takes to the skies in the future, it won’t be with Air Canada.

Kendall Hanson