What to do if your luggage doesn’t turn up
You may arrive at an airport all set to enjoy your holiday when your bags fail to emerge onto the carousel, leaving you in an unfamiliar place with only a small selection of your possessions. Or you might have just arrived back home after a holiday of a lifetime, only to have the experience tarnished.
If this happens you should inform the luggage handling desk at the airport and complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). In the vast majority of cases, the airline will be able to trace your bags and will inform you accordingly. It can then be arranged for the bags to be returned to you free of charge.
Get in touch with the airline to find out what sort of emergency assistance they are prepared to provide you with in the meantime, such as payment for essentials like toiletries and additional clothes.
The maximum amount payable for mishandled baggage claims is around £1,000 per passenger.
If your luggage is damaged
If your luggage is returned to you but has been damaged, you must write to the airline within seven days of receiving it if you wish to claim compensation.
You could be paid compensation for the value of the damaged bag or suitcase plus any items that have sustained damage. You may need to provide receipts for these.
The maximum amount payable for mishandled baggage claims is around £1,000 per passenger, unless you made what is known as a ‘special declaration of interest in the delivery of your luggage’ before it was lost.
Your luggage is considered lost if it still remains unaccounted for after 21 days. In this instance, you should write to the airline within seven days of the luggage being declared lost.
You should be awarded compensation appropriate to the value of the items in your luggage, but it is unlikely that you will be reimbursed for the full cost of replacing your items, as the airline will deduct for wear and tear.
Airlines generally do not accept liability for any stress, inconvenience or further problems resulting from the mishandling of baggage.
If you made a multi-stop flight with multiple airlines, you can make a claim for lost or delayed baggage against any of the airlines you flew with, although airlines may not take responsibility unless they were the last carrier that you flew with. If none of the airlines accept responsibility, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority for advice.
Alternatively, if you took out a travel insurance policy before travelling, you may be able to make a claim for lost, stolen or damaged luggage on the policy. The limit that insurers will pay out is usually between £1,500 and £2,000.
Help with lost luggage disputes
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.