Lost luggage compensation – your rights if your luggage is lost or delayed

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If you’ve arrived at your holiday destination without your luggage, what can you do? Find out about lost luggage compensation and what you’ll get if your luggage is lost or delayed.

Lost luggage compensation

The compensation you’re due will depend on whether you checked in your luggage or took it on as cabin baggage. If it’s checked-in luggage, you’re entitled to compensation if it’s damaged, delayed or lost but you can only claim compensation for damaged luggage if it’s the airline’s fault.

What you’ll get if your luggage is delayed

If your luggage is lost or delayed on the way out, you may be able to claim against the airline for essentials, such as toiletries and basic clothing. Some airlines will give you an upfront one-off payment, others will have a daily rate, with an upper limit and with some airlines, you have to claim for money that you’ve spent to be reimbursed afterwards.

There are no regulations that set out how much an airline should pay if it’s a one-off or daily rate. The daily limit may be something like £25 a day up to a limit of £75 per person (for Easyjet), with Monarch, it’s £30 a day. Others, such as BA, say they’ll reimburse ‘reasonable costs’.

SAVVY TIP: Under the Montreal Convention, which covers compensation for delayed or damaged luggage, you should claim within 21 days of getting your luggage delivered. You have to submit receipts and usually have to make the claim online.

Lost luggage – when is it lost?

If your luggage can’t be found and has been lost for more than 21 days, it’s treated as lost luggage. Then you can claim compensation for the cost of the case and its contents. But there are some terms and conditions that you have to meet in order to make a claim. For example:

  • You can only claim for things you’ve lost where you have a receipt or other proof of purchase (such as a credit card statement).

SAVVY TIP: It’s not like home insurance where you can claim on a ‘new for old’ basis. Instead, the airline will give you compensation based on the value of the items that have been lost at the time.

  • You have to claim within certain time deadlines. There is no legal time limit under the Montreal Convention, but airlines can set their own time limit. Some airlines don’t let you claim until 21 days after the luggage goes missing. Confusingly, others ask you to make the claim within 21 days of the luggage going missing.
  • There’s a maximum claim limit of 1,131 SDRs for claims. SDRs stands for ‘special drawing rights’ and it’s a notional currency based against the value of a basket of currencies including the pound, dollar, yen and Chinese yuan. As I write this, the maximum compensation is around £1,040, but most people don’t get this.

Damaged luggage

If your luggage is damaged the airline should pay for a replacement bag (and any contents that have been damaged) or for a repair. They don’t have to replace damaged bags – they can repair them – so check with the airline before you get rid of it.

Making a claim

If your luggage isn’t on the carousel or is damaged, go to the airline desk and ask them to make out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) and give you a copy. If you make a claim, the airline will normally want to see this report and it should speed up your claim. But it isn’t a legal requirement for you to have a copy in order to make a claim.

SAVVY TIP: There may be a special desk for delayed and lost luggage queries – if so it’s normally very clearly signposted.

Related articles:

Using your EHIC or European Health Insurance Card; what does it give you?

Complaining about a holiday you’re not happy with; what you can do

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