Compensation for Delayed, Lost, or Damaged Baggage

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Frequent travelers know firsthand the frustration of dealing with lost, delayed, or damaged baggage. When you plan your business trip or a long-awaited vacation, you need everything essential that is in your case. While sometimes it is not enough to simply get your stuff back, you should know that every passenger has a right to get compensation for all damages.

The Montreal Convention protects your rights as a passenger in case of damaged, delayed, or lost baggage. According to the international treaty, a person can expect to be compensated up to €1,385 in any of the before-mentioned cases if these happen due to the airline company’s fault. By knowing their rights, travelers can be calmer about all the consequent inconveniences and financial help from the side of the airline company.

This article will cover all the vital information to understand how to get legal compensation for delayed, destroyed, or lost baggage.

Terms Used for Baggage Issues

As we delve into the topic, you should get acquainted with the definitions of delayed, damaged, and lost baggage compensation. Here are these:

  • Delayed luggage: The term refers to checked luggage that arrived at the final destination later than on due time.
  • Damaged luggage: The term refers to checked baggage that was damaged while being under the control of an airline. Besides, it deals with the ruined contents of the baggage.
  • Lost luggage: the checked baggage is considered to be lost if it has arrived at the final destination after a certain period of time. Note, however, that this time frame differs from country to country: from 5 to 21 days.

Passenger Rights When Baggage Is Delayed, Lost or Damaged

Now that you know the key terms, you should understand the intricacies of each and how the law protects your rights in different cases. Find out more about them below.

Baggage Is Delayed

Delays in flights or luggage delivery can be annoying, especially when you must reach a specific destination at a predetermined time. And you may be wondering how to get compensation for delayed baggage if something like that happens to you. But, first, you must understand what rights, as a passenger, you have when your suitcase is delayed and what steps should be taken to solve the problem correctly.

If the luggage is delayed, the passenger has the right to buy change clothes and cosmetics. Later on, the airline company is obliged to compensate for the costs if they are reasonable. The amount of compensation is up to 1,385 euros per passenger.

Now, what do we mean by reasonable? For example, if the suitcase arrives at the place of your residence late, there is no reason to buy any replacements. Therefore, you won’t have the right to reimbursement, but if the suitcase is delayed for 24 hours, expenses for cosmetics and a change of clothes are reasonable.

Airlines usually pay 50% of the clothing’s price, as it can be reused. When talking about cosmetics, the cost is fully covered. It is important that passengers must inform the airline about the expenses within 21 days after the luggage is finally received. The report must be written and include the corresponding attachments to prove the purchases.

What to Do If Baggage Is Delayed?

Even though suitcase delays are common, you should know that 95% of lost luggage can be recovered. So, no panic: here are some crucial points to consider:

  • Right after landing, inform about your situation via the Lost & Found desk; in the baggage claim form, say that you didn’t receive your stuff.
  • You must show the luggage label (registration number) you got on the boarding pass during check-in. It is crucial as it helps to define the location of the suitcase.
  • Give the suitcase’s description.
  • You can contact the airline company as soon as you officially report the loss. At this point, you can also ask about the refunds that will be covered.
  • Importantly, you can file your claims via the tour operator if it was your vacation trip and you lost your stuff. It would help to know how to do this if you visit the tour guide’s site.

Baggage Is Damaged

If your suitcases are damaged, the airline company is obliged to compensate for the baggage damage if this happens during the flight. The compensation for damaged luggage accounts for up to €1385. The size of this refund is based on the suitcase’s current value; specifically,  reimbursement usually accounts for 10-30% of the purchaser’s cost per year. 

The airline can also repair your suitcase if that is possible. Keep in mind that the airline company will not refund the damage to the suitcase’s contents because the passengers are responsible for its proper protection. For example, it could be tech equipment or something fragile. So, damaged baggage compensation excludes the contents of your luggage.

What to Do If the Baggage Is Damaged?

As in the case of baggage delay compensation, you must document the damage and then inform the airline company regarding the incident. Right at the airport, you can fill out the official document, the Property Irregularity Report. In fact, you have seven days for this, but it is much better to fill out the report as soon as possible. You can confirm the value of the damaged suitcase by providing the appropriate proof of purchase.

Baggage Is Lost

Finally, lost luggage compensation is possible in cases where the suitcases are delayed for more than 21 days. A passenger can expect to receive up to €1385. So, the reimbursement of the suitcases is measured according to the current value of the purchase with an estimated annual depreciation rate that is 10%-30%.

What To Do If My Baggage Is Lost?

Passengers can have airline lost baggage compensation after they report their loss at the airport after landing. For this, they must fill out a particular document — a lost luggage report. Additionally, it is crucial to include the luggage’s delivery address just in case it is found. Usually, airline companies deliver the lost luggage by taxi. But if you have to pick it up from the airport all by yourself, you have a right to get reimbursement for the traveling expenses.

Deadlines for Claiming Compensation

Claiming a refund, passengers should strictly follow the deadlines to receive their compensation. Here is a table to make it easier for you:

Reason for claimingDeadline
Missing or delayed baggage compensationWithin 21 days after the flight
Damaged baggageWithin 7 days after receiving the suitcase
Damaged or lost contentsWithin 7 days after receiving the suitcase
Lost baggage (if it is missing more than 21 days)Right after it is officially lost

How to Claim Delayed or Lost Baggage Compensation

If a passenger is going to claim compensation for delayed luggage (or lost one), it is essential to make everything right. Learn more about the legal representation and airline services below.

Legal Representation

When it comes to legal representation, let’s say, in case of airline delayed baggage compensation, we have a practical recommendation for you. So, the best thing to do is to seek assistance from our trusted partners, which provide legal services related to air passenger rights based on EU261 law. These companies aim to help clients solve problems with airlines when something happens due to the airline’s fault. Based on the issues you have — luggage loss, delay, or damage — we help you find the most suitable legal services so that you can resolve the problem fast and effectively.

Contact the Airline Directly

There is one more way to claim lost or delayed luggage compensation. Passengers can do it themselves. For this, they should directly claim airline compensation for delayed luggage. You will need to report the loss officially, fill in some forms, write the description of your luggage, etc. It’s not the most convenient way to return your baggage, as it takes some time and can be stressful.

Documents You’ll Need

To get your airline baggage delay compensation, you must prepare certain documents. Without these, it would be impossible to receive a refund. The airline company can consult you on the required package of documents. Here’s what you usually need to have:

  • A boarding card.
  • The luggage labels with a registration number.
  • Proof that you reported your issue (for instance, an email from the airline company).
  • The receipts for stuff you bought due to the delay.
  • Proof of purchase for damaged/lost stuff.
  • Pictures of the damaged suitcase or contents.
  • Proof of repair work (for example, from a repair company).


What Should I Do If Airport Personnel Damage My Baggage During Security Checks?
If you think airport personnel have damaged your luggage during the security check, the first thing to do is notify either the appropriate authorities or airport security.
Do I Need Travel Insurance to Cover My Baggage in Case of Loss or Damage?
In most cases, a travel insurance policy covers lost or damaged baggage. However, it is crucial to remember that such coverage may vary from policy to policy. That’s why it is essential to read the terms and conditions of your travel insurance carefully to understand what protection you may get.
What Should I Do If My Baggage Is Delayed and I Have a Connecting Flight to Catch?
In case your suitcase is delayed and you also have a connecting flight, you must notify the airline staff at the airport of your transfer. They can also coordinate your luggage’s delivery to the final destination if possible.

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