'I'm ashamed Aer Lingus carries an Irish flag' - Irish pro cyclist slams airline for losing €8k bike
Professional Irish cyclist Philip Lavery has slated Aer Lingus for losing his €8k bike and taking almost a month to email him.
The 27-year-old's bike went missing after it was not placed on a connecting flight at Newark Airport with Aer Lingus on June 24 as he travelled from Portland, Oregon to Dublin.
After contacting Aer Lingus continually since the loss, Lavery finally got an email from the airline yesterday.
The company said they had failed to locate the bike and told Lavery that under the Montreal Convention their maximum liability is €1,357.43 and they would cover that amount after he produced a receipt.
They also said they would assist Lavery in recouping the entire amount if he had travel insurance.
Although the team is covered by insurance, the 2010 Tour of the North winner is far from pleased with how the situation was dealt with and aims to pursue the issue further.
The loss didn't just mean the loss of a bike but it also meant that his team, H&R Block Pro Cycling, didn't avail of the opportunity to showcase their sponsors in the recent Tour of Portugal, where Lavery was at the head of the field for around 11 hours.
The Dubliner claims that the ordeal has impacted on his professional and private life.
"I was infuriated," he told Independent.ie.
"You would think that the cost of a Transatlantic flight would buy you some kind of customer service.
"I received the email from Aer Lingus yesterday and they were stressing their maximum liability as if to say, 'That's that' but that will not be the case.
"I had a gut feeling in Newark and started the claim process and they confirmed that the bike never left Portland but with no reason given.
"I had on phonecall or email from them in a month.
"This has caused untold disruption and damage to my performance and personal life. I was unable to enjoy the limited time at home with my son ahead of the tour of Portugal.
"I had to prepare on an older bike and race the tour of Portugal over two weeks on equipment that is not from the team's backers.
"The equipment was not up to standard and I was physically in pain with changes of position and physio needed.
"I am ashamed that Aer Lingus carry an Irish flag and shamrock.
"They won't get away with this though, I will pursue it to the last out of sheer stubbornness I have sacrificed to much to have it taken away by a company that operates in such a way I am now set to miss the tour of Alberta because I can't compete without that bike from the sponsor.
"The claim process is designed to break people down to pawn them off and in the end here's money you have no other choice and people give in and accept that because there's a convention that must mean I can't take it any further.
"The bike was brand new and I had just got it for Cascade Classic and it was for use during the tour of Alberta , tour of China and tour of Hainan.
"It's a size specific to me and not easily replaced and definitely not at this time of year."
Aer Lingus apologised to Lavery in a statement released to Independent.ie.
"With regret Mr. Lavery’s bicycle was not transferred on to his Portland to Newark flight with Alaska Airlines and as a result never reached his subsequent Aer Lingus flight to Dublin," it read.
"Since Mr. Lavery’s bicycle was reported missing, we have used all means possible to seek to trace the item with Newark airport baggage tracing, and Alaska Airlines’ baggage tracing department.
"While these searches have regrettably been unsuccessful to date, we continue to search for the bicycle. In the meantime, our guest services team has offered to assist Mr. Lavery with filing a travel insurance claim.
"Aer Lingus apologises to Mr. Lavery for the inconvenience caused."