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We do not wish it, but there is always a possibility for your luggage to go missing or be damaged in transit. This happens more often on longer trips with stopovers, but we have some advice that may allow you to limit the consequences. In any case, you lose nothing becoming informed of your options and some good practices which limit the risks.


What to do in case of delayed baggage ?

If you can't find your suitcase on the carousel, go to your next airline attendant. Make sure to keep your luggage receipt for every bag you checked in — this is key to determine whether your luggage is delayed, left behind in transit or completely lost. In the rare event your luggage has been declared lost, the airline attendant will file a claim. To complete the claim, you will be asked to describe your bag (color, size …) as well as all the personal effects inside.  Carefully keep a copy of the claim. The airline will ask for it if they find the luggage. 80% of the time, luggages are found in less than 48 hours, thanks to tracking systems and luggage receipts!

What to do in case of damaged luggage ?

If you find your luggage damaged, go to the relevant luggage handling counter at the airport and fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). You will be asked to state what has been damaged (torn material, broken zip, stolen property, broken wheels, stains …).  The airline company will contact you shortly afterwards to discuss the extent of the damage and possible recourse - at best they will replace your suitcase. It is not a legal requirement to have a PIR, but it will speed up the process. If you have no time upon discovering the damage, you must write, no later than seven days from receipt of the baggage to the Baggage Claims of your airline company. Beware: Failure to report a claim for a damaged bag within the prescribed time limit (7 days) releases the airline of responsibility. Airlines are not liable for any “damage caused to baggage that is unsuitably packed, overweight or over packed, or for any other damage considered to be normal wear”.

Compensation in case of damage, delay or loss

If you believe you have suffered prejudice in relation to the delay in delivery, you can make a claim with the airline. If you’re traveling abroad without your bag, airlines are obliged to cover costs of “essential items”. However, not all airlines stick to the same definition concerning “essential items”. For most airlines, reimbursed products are toiletries, underwear or laundry costs. However, keep receipts for anything you buy. To be reimbursed, you have 7 days to fill in a claim and submit your bills.

If you have still not heard from your airline 21 days after reporting the loss of your luggage, you must fill in a claim for compensation and add in your declaration of loss which will be sent by mail with acknowledgment of receipt. The maximum compensation to which you are entitled is based on the weight of your suitcase. Compensation for loss of baggage does not exceed 20 dollars or 20 euros per kilo. It is usually much lower than the value of the goods contained in the baggage. Therefore, we recommend you hold on to all valuable items. Check your insurance for additional compensation. Travel insurance often covers trip cancellation or this type of risk: click here for a self-help guide from Citizen Advice.

How to limit the Risks ?

Opt for direct flights. In case of a stop, check the connection time. This is usually a turning point in the delivery of luggage. If possible, avoid connection time between flights that are not sufficient to transfer your luggage.
Opt for a small bag that you can keep with you in the cabin. Remember to transport your valuables with you.
Label your luggage with your name, address and telephone number. You can also add the address of your place of residence during your trip. Do not forget to remove your old labels to avoid confusion. Personalize your suitcase, with luggage tags, suitcase covers, stickers, etc.
For more information, please visit the European Centre for consumers.

Tip: Always file a report before you leave the airport. This not only eliminates hassles, but many airlines have claim filing deadlines. Also, keep your packing list in your carry-on (along with a clean change of clothes!) to make the claim process easier. That way, you won’t forget anything of value when the airline representative asks you for an itemized list of what you packed.

 TipChoose your airline wisely to improve the odds of arriving with your luggage intact with Travel and Leisure. 

Lost Hand Luggage ?

What if you lose your hand luggage in an airport ?

If you realize that you have lost your hand luggage, quickly report to the airport luggage service. Any abandoned luggage is immediately destroyed. If your baggage is not found, you cannot ask for compensation:  your hand luggage is your responsibility. If it is found, you will have to go and get if yourself, or request a delivery to an address you specify. The costs will be at your expense.

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