Do Airlines Compensate for a Lost, Delayed or a Damaged Luggage?

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Do Airlines Compensate for a Lost, Delayed or a Damaged Luggage?

Written by Erich Allen Jul 26, 2022 02:00 PM

One of the biggest holiday disasters when traveling on a flight is lost, delayed or damaged luggage. If anything of that sort happens to you after taking a long tiring flight, it would most likely set the wrong tone for your entire trip. You can, however, save yourself from the trouble by knowing your compensation rights and heading straight to the baggage reclaim desk. 

You might now wonder what you need to do in case such things happen. Sit back and continue reading because we’ve got you the information you’ll need.

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How to Claim for Damaged or Lost Baggage

Air travel can be challenging for your baggage. Bags can get beaten up, damaged, delayed and sometimes even disappear altogether. In any case, no one likes terrible stuff happening to their bags when they travel. Here's some good news, though. Claiming compensation for lost or damaged baggage couldn't be easier. 

Did you know that the average compensation from an airline for lost or damaged luggage is anywhere from $1525 to $3500? That's because of US and Montreal Convention air passenger rights laws. The Montreal Convention covers 120 nations across the world for issues related to baggage. 

So, if you arrive at your destination and your bags don't show up, don't leave the airport before you report your missing luggage at the baggage kiosk. Get a property irregularity report and case number for your missing bags. 

What are your entitlements if your luggage gets lost, delayed or damaged?

While most passengers are making flights and not losing bags, reports of luggage delays and backlogs aren't unusual. Generally, airlines do compensate for any baggage loss so long as it is their fault. Yet sadly, airlines don't highlight their reimbursement policy because they may or may not benefit financially from a customer's lack of knowledge. 

Compensation claims are assessed in two ways: First, the damage was caused by the delay of passengers, cargo, or baggage. Second, whether the destruction of baggage caused the loss. Any damage, therefore, is covered by the airlines only if the customers are smart enough to know what they're dealing with.

If the Baggage is Delayed: 

If your bag doesn't appear on the carousel after a flight, chances are it's delayed. Report this immediately with the airline or ground handler by filling out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). This report describes your luggage and its contents and provides a contact address. Almost all airlines have online tracking facilities and phone lines for luggage follow-ups. 

The Montreal Convention makes airlines liable for lost, delayed or damaged bags, with compensation limited to approximately $1,780. Some airlines also offer a daily allowance for delayed bags, so make sure you inquire about this. Most baggage will eventually be delivered, but luggage is considered lost and a total loss after 21 days. 

If Items are Lost:

Things usually get challenging after the lapse of 21 days because you will be filing and negotiating claims for compensation with the airline. Having travel insurance in place can also help. Insurance for lost or delayed luggage will usually involve an excess cost, but claims may prove more straightforward than the airlines. 

If the Bags are Damaged:

If the straps or bag is damaged, file a property irregularity report with the relevant luggage handling counter. The airline staff will then reach out to you to inquire about the extent of the damage and how you would like to be compensated. It could be in the form of a new suitcase or some monetary compensation. However, it is not a legal requirement to file a property irregularity report, but it does help speed up the process.

What to do for the compensation of lost, delayed or damaged luggage?

Many bags look the same. After you pull a bag off the carousel thinking it's yours:

  • Check the nametag or the bag tag number.
  • If your suitcase arrives unlocked, open, or visibly damaged, scan immediately to see if any of your stuff is missing or damaged.
  • Notify your problems to the airline by insisting on filling out a form before leaving the airport. 
  • Unpack your suitcase immediately when you get to where you're staying. 
  • Any damage to your belongings or pilferage should be immediately reported to the airline by telephone or writing. 
  • Make sure you take note of the details, such as the name and number of the person you spoke with and the date and time of the call. 
  • Follow up immediately with a certified note that mentions the Montreal Convention to the airline. 
  • The airline usually pays for repairs if your suitcase arrives smashed or torn. However, they will negotiate a settlement to pay you its depreciated value if it can't be fixed. The same holds true for belongings crammed inside. 

Airlines may refuse to pay for damage caused by the fragile nature of the broken items when there's no evidence of external damage to the suitcase.