Sometimes when you get to your destination airport, your baggage does not appear on the carousel. Baggage is most often lost or delayed when you have transferred en-route between planes, or between airlines.
When hold luggage is lost, delayed or damaged airlines are liable for your losses. However, there are no rules which fix the amount of compensation you should receive. It will depend on the value of what you have lost and the maximum will be around $1000, however, it would be very rare for you to receive this much.
You will have to demonstrate that your bag and its contents were worth the amount you are claiming by using receipts, credit card records or any other proof of value. Airlines also do not allow for “new for old” replacement when considering the value of your claim. They will look at the value of the item based on its age when lost.
Label your baggage
It can help to include your name, address and email address on the inside of the baggage in case the tags on the outside are lost.
Most airlines will reimburse you for the bare essentials you need to buy when your bag is delayed. If you are away from home this may cover essential toiletries, underwear and laundry costs. If your bag is delayed on your return home, airlines may consider that your losses were less as you had clothes and other essentials available to you. Some airlines have a daily rate which they will pay per day your bag is delayed.
If you are claiming for a lost or damaged bag when you have been on two or more different airlines on a journey, you can claim from any of the airlines, however it would usually be the final airline that would handle the claim so they are a good place to start.
If your baggage is damaged, you should report upon arrival at the airport. Most airlines have a dedicated baggage desk within the baggage claims area. You may receive a Property Irregularity Report (also known as PIR.) You will also need to put in a written claim to the airline within seven days. Having a PIR is no guarantee that the airline will accept your claim. If the airline accept your claim, they may pay for your baggage to be repaired, or may provide replacement baggage.
Making a claim
You must report the fact that your luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged at the airport and keep a copy of the Property Irregularity Report which staff of the airline will complete. To make a claim you must then contact the airline in writing:
- Within seven days for lost or stolen items, or damaged baggage
- Within 21 days for delayed bags from receiving the delayed bag
Airlines do not automatically consider themselves liable for the losses you incur following on from your bag being delayed unless forced to do so by a court. For example, if you miss the start of a cruise you were booked on because you had to wait 24 hours for your bag to arrive at the airport, this will not routinely be refunded. You would have to take legal action and ask a court to award this extra compensation if the airline refuses.
It might be better to claim on your travel insurance as airlines may not pay out the true cost of what a lost, delayed or damaged bag has cost you. However, travel insurance is likely to have an excess and there is often a time limit for submitting a claim depending on the policy.