A professional cyclist from Ireland says he is furious with national flag carrier Aer Lingus after his lost his bike was lost on a flight in the United States.
Philip Lavery was flying from Portland, Oregon to Dublin via Newark, New Jersey, but his bike, worth €8,000, did not make it onto the connecting flight to Ireland, reports Independent.ie.
The bike was lost as the returned from racing in North America in July, where he had raced in the White Spot / Delta Road Race in British Columbia, Canada, and the Cascade Cycling Classic in the US state of Oregon.
Lavery, who rides for UCI Continental team H&R Block Pro Cycling, rode the Tour of Portugal earlier this month on an old bike, costing his team’s bike sponsors TV exposure, and only heard back from the airline yesterday when they emailed him.
Aer Lingus told him that they had been unable to find the bike and said that in line with the Montreal Convention, their liability was at most €1,357.43 which they would pay once he provided them with a receipt.
While the bike is covered under the team’s insurance policy, Lavery, who has twice been on the podium at the Irish national road race championships and is a former stagiaire at the French UCI WorldTour team Cofidis, says there are wider issues at stake.
He told the newspaper: "I was infuriated. 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 no phone call or email from them in a month.
"This has caused untold disruption and damage to my performance and personal life,” he continued.
“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,” he added.
“I have sacrificed too 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,” he added.
“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."
In a statement, Aer Lingus told 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.
"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.”
The airline added: "Aer Lingus apologises to Mr Lavery for the inconvenience caused."
Lavery is not the only cyclist to have suffered Transatlantic flight woes in recent weeks.
As we reported earlier this month, trials ace Vittorio Brumotti’s road bike was destroyed on a flight out to the US, where he was filming – and its replacement suffered the same fate on his way home to Italy.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.