Quick guide to lost, delayed and damaged luggage – your rights

How to claim for lost, damaged or delayed luggage

Luggage is considered lost after 21 days. You must report the fact that your luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged at the airport and keep a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) which staff of the airline will complete. It is not a legal requirement to have this and some airports may not have them. To make a claim you must then contact the airline in writing:

Lost/stolen/damaged luggage – within 7 days

Delayed bags from receiving the delayed bag –within 21 days

If your luggage is lost or damaged you should be able to claim from the airline. Different airlines have different rules, but as a general rule of thumb, the CAA says airlines often don’t automatically consider themselves liable for consequential losses and so the only way you could enforce a request if the airline initially refuses to do so, is in court. A consequential loss may be missing a connecting flight because you were waiting for your luggage. Airlines will usually deal with these issues on a case by case basis. They should pay out for essentials and you will have to follow the airline’s specific procedures for complaints, noting the time within which you need to complain. You may get more on your travel insurance but this will depend on the cover taken out and of course the excess.

Your rights lost luggage

Make sure you keep receipts of everything you have had to purchase. Take photos, dated if possible, of damaged luggage or contents.  Also send copies of the luggage labels as these have the bar code for scanning. When you write send all your evidence including boarding card, the PIR and flight details.

If the airline accept your claim, they may pay for your baggage to be repaired, or may provide replacement baggage. If your luggage turns up a day or two later the airline has to make arrangements for getting it to you as efficiently as possible. Where luggage doesn’t show up, you should be able to monitor it through the tracing procedure, either by contacting baggage services at the airport, the airline’s central department or by logging into an online baggage-tracing page with a reference number.

How long before baggage is deemed delayed?

Delayed, lost and damaged luggage is covered by the Montreal Convention. However, it does not provide a length of time for when it is considered delayed! So it would need to be tested in court.

How to claim when you think you waited too long for your luggage

I would always advise you to claim for any out of pocket expenses and complain to the airline carrier. (this could be over staying the car parking, hitting the time for the Dartford crossing charge etc.) You could take the matter further through an Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) provider if the airline provider doesn’t play ball. There are a few providers but note the concerns around ADR in aviation, in particular AviationADR. Landing in court with Ryanair

In the first instance you would need to claim from the airline. You would claim under the Montreal Convention for cases of lost, damaged or delayed baggage from the air carrier. However,However, legally your contract is with the airline/company to whom you paid the money. Therefore you should claim from the air carrier. The reason I believe that this is becoming more and more of a problem is because in an effort to keep air fares down, airlines are paying the minimum to baggage handling companies so getting a reduced service. Ultimately, you would be looking in court at what would be considered “reasonable”. It is unlikely that someone isn’t going to take an airline to court. Until I am affected, then I will!

Taking the matter further through ADR or the courts

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): What it all means post that explains what it is all about and how you can use it.

Landing in court with Ryanair warning about using AviationADR when dealing with aviation complaints

Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles the research reports looking at how some ADR schemes such as the one run by Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited which used to run The Retail Ombudsman and lost the title are being approved and monitored.

Further help

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For information about your rights on holidays see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights.




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For more information. advice tips, guidance, laws and templates for complaining effectively see the bestselling GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!