How to claim for lost luggage

Sometimes, when you get to your destination airport, your baggage may not appear on the carousel as you expect. Baggage is most likely to be lost or delayed on a connecting flight when you have switched between planes or airlines. But what should you do when your luggage is lost, delayed, or damaged? Let’s be honest: It’s an inconvenience that you could do without, so our resident travel expert Steve Reid, is here to provide you with some handy advice should this happen to you.

What happens when luggage is lost?

When your checked in 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 depends on the value of what you have lost, and the maximum you could receive is around £1,000, however it would likely be very rare for you to get as much as this.

What can I do?

Make sure you always label your luggage. It can help to include your name, your address, email address and telephone number. Also place a copy of your details inside of the baggage in case the outside labels are lost during transit. If you take any prescription medication, always ensure that this is in your carry-on luggage, so that if your bag is lost or delayed you won’t be without your meds.

Will I be compensated for delayed luggage?

Most airlines will reimburse you for the essentials you need to buy when your bag is delayed. If you are away from home, this may cover your essentials, such as basic toiletries, underwear, and laundry costs. If your bag is delayed on your return home, airlines will most likely consider that your losses were less severe, as you will probably have clothes and other essentials readily available to you. Some airlines have a daily rate which they will pay per day when your bag is delayed. Check your airline’s terms and conditions to see their provisions. Airlines should cover the costs of delivering your delayed bag to you.

What about damage?

If your baggage is damaged, you should report it 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 must make a claim to the airline in writing within seven days. If the airline accepts your claim, they may pay for your baggage to be repaired, or may provide replacement baggage. Having a PIR is no guarantee that the airline will accept your claim. If possible, take some photos of the damage and send copies of these to the airline along with your letter of claim.

How do I make a claim?

You must report that your luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged at the airport, and keep a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) which the airline staff will complete. To make a claim you must then contact the airline in writing

Claiming within seven days for lost or stolen items or damaged baggage.

You will need to show that your bag and its contents were worth the amount you are claiming by using receipts, credit card records or any other proof of the value. Airlines usually 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.

Claiming within 21 days for delayed bags from receiving the delayed bag.

If you wish to claim 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 you travelled with, however it would usually be the final airline that will deal with your claim.

Consequential expenses

Airlines do not automatically consider themselves liable for the losses you incur following your bag being lost or delayed unless ordered to do so by a Court. For example, if you miss the start of a cruise because you had to wait 24 hours for your bag to arrive and incurred additional expenses, this will not usually be refunded. You would likely have to take legal action against the airline and ask a Court to award this as extra compensation.

Travel Insurance

If you have travel insurance, it might be better to make a claim with your insurer, as airlines may not pay out the true cost of what a lost, delayed or damaged bag has actually cost you. However, be aware that most travel insurance policies have an excess, and there is often a time limit for submitting a claim, so check your policy terms and conditions.

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