A Kiwi traveller says he is stranded in Britain after his luggage was "ransacked" and $7000 in cash and a precious family war medal were stolen.

Emirates passenger Barrie Gibb wants the airline to make good the losses he suffered when he was unwillingly separated from his baggage on a trip to Britain last month.

When Gibb was a boy, his great uncle gave him the 1914-18 service medal he had received for serving overseas in the New Zealand armed forces during the war.

The medal was hidden with around $7000-worth of euros and British pounds in a suitcase which, along with a sports bags, were Gibb's checked baggage for his planned three-month stay in England.

Advertisement

But Emirates says it advises passengers to carry valuable cargo in carry-on luggage and it has handled his concerns diligently.

The 47-year-old Timaru tiler fell in love with Amanda Lucking when he was visiting West Sussex in England to watch his son George, who has a scholarship there, play rugby.

He and Lucking are considering living together and last month Gibb flew out of Christchurch on his way to spend three months with her.

The first leg of his flight was to Sydney but because of thunderstorms the plane was diverted to Melbourne.

Gibb slept the night in the airport. He said he and other passengers going to Dubai were told they would be given a boarding pass to leave at 6am. But at 4.30am he woke to hear himself being paged.

He went to the gate, only to find it closed. He was told his bags were on a flight to Sydney. His request to have them removed was refused.

He was put on a flight to Dubai and later arrived in London. Lucking, meanwhile, had started trying to have his bags tracked down.

The sports bag took five days to get to London and the suitcase six. The suitcase was badly damaged.

"I could see the bag had been ransacked," Gibb said.

"There was a lot missing - a large amount of money, personal items. The worst was a relative's First World War medal.

"I was stranded on the other side of the world without any money … surviving on the kindness of people."

Gibb had taken some RSA poppies with him and had planned to go to northern France or Belgium to commemorate his great-uncle on Anzac Day. He was considering giving the medal to a museum there.

He said he had travel insurance, but it didn't cover the missing cash and he was reluctant to make a claim.

"To me, this is on Emirates," he said.

"I want them to give me my money back and work out how they are going to sort out the medal."

Because he had to cut his trip short, he also wants a refund on the £420 (NZ$813) ticket he bought to get back to New Zealand, and a free ticket back to Britain to resume his trip.

In a statement, Emirates said it had been in contact with Gibb and had handled his case diligently, in accordance with the airline's established procedures.

"Our conditions of carriage cover instances like this … According to these conditions of carriage, passengers should not carry valuable items in checked baggage, such as those packed in Mr Gibb's luggage."

The airline said it takes every measure to give its passengers an enjoyable and comfortable experience.

"Whilst we make every effort to transport passengers and their baggage according to planned schedules, sometimes unforeseeable operational issues cause changes in schedules.

"We appreciate the difficulties our customers face when baggage is mislaid and regret any disruption this may have caused."