Because TAP's records showed that the suitcase that did arrive in Lisbon had weighed 20 kilograms, [Ondina Carvalheiro] said, simple arithmetic showed that the missing suitcase had weighed nothing: The total weight of the two bags (20 kilograms) minus the weight of the returned bag (20 kilograms) equalled the weight of the missing bag (zero). I had therefore lost nothing.
Carvalheiro, according to the small print on the back of airline tickets, was technically correct. U.S. federal regulations require airlines on flights within the United States to have a liability of "at least $1,250 a passenger." But the small print states that on all international flights an airline's maximum liability for lost baggage is only $20 a kilogram.
TWA says its maximum liability on international flights to and from the United States is $560 a bag. Pan Am says its maximum liability on international flights to and from the United States is $640 a bag. These liabilities are stated on Pan Am and TWA tickets.