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By Joseph Booysen
An Athlone woman says she has been fighting a 16-month battle with Egypt Air for compensation after her bag and its contents were damaged at Cairo Airport.
Shehnaz Goolam-Mahomed told Argus Action her bag and contents - worth about R3 600 - were damaged at Cairo Airport in July last year.
Items damaged included crystal domes depicting Mecca and Medina, a wall clock and a clothing iron.
But Egypt Air says its efforts to compensate Goolam Mahomed with a $200 payment were frustrated by the airline's inability to trace her.
She had put in her complaint under the name Mahomed, and her claim under the name Goolam, and "because of the incorrect names given", could not be traced, said Kamal Maghraby, Johannesburg station manager of Egypt Air.
Goolam-Mahomed said she was part of a group of seven family members returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca who took a connecting flight to Johannesburg on Egypt Air from Cairo Airport.
While they were being transported to the terminal building at Cairo, they saw their luggage being loaded on to trailers to be transferred to their Johannesburg-bound plane.
"As the trailer began to move, some luggage fell off and the trailer behind it went right over the bags. In Johannesburg I was horrified to get one of my bags ripped and buckled."
She and her travelling companions had reported the damage to an Egypt Air official who asked them to submit a claim in writing.
Goolam-Mahomed had sent the relevant documents to the official.
He responded that it would take about eight weeks as he had to forward everything to Cairo.
She had made numerous calls to Egypt Air, during which she was given a reference number. But three months later she was told it was the wrong number. When her calls to Egypt Air's offices were not returned, she had asked to speak to a senior manager.
Instead, she was given the run around and was eventually contacted by a manager who promised to resolve the issue. After again being referred to another person, Goolam-Mahomed asked Argus Action to intervene.
Maghraby said all Egypt Air flights during the pilgrimage season were operated by wide-bodied aircraft in which all baggage was stowed in sealed containers.
Mahomed's claim that she saw a trailer ride over bags did not necessarily mean it was her bag that was damaged, "as hers was the only report received on her arrival".
World-wide air travel regulations said no valuables should be included in checked luggage, and in the case of valuables, a form should be completed stating their value. Mahomed had not done so.