Damaged or lost luggage
When you travel by air, the airline is always responsible for looking after your luggage as soon as you check it in, right up until you collect it from the baggage hall at your destination. You are entitled to compensation if your luggage is damaged or lost by the airline.
You are entitled to compensation up to about £1,000 (depending on exchange rates) if your luggage is:
If the value of your luggage is greater than the maximum compensation amount you need to declare the value to the airline when checking in. You can usually pay a fee and make a ‘special declaration’ that will cover any expensive items for their full value. Contact the airline directly to find out more.
You should also make sure your travel insurance policy covers the contents in your luggage.
If your luggage is damaged:
- report the damage to airline staff in the baggage hall before you leave the airport
- ask airline staff to record the damage in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR)
- get a copy of the PIR as this will support your claim for compensation from the airline
- keep the luggage tags which were attached at check-in
- photograph the damage caused to your luggage
To claim compensation you must make a written complaint to the airline within seven days from the date you receive your luggage.
You should send your complaint by recorded delivery to prove your complaint was submitted within seven days.
If your luggage is not at baggage reclaim
- check with airport staff – your bag may just be delayed
- report your luggage missing to airline staff in the baggage hall before you leave the airport
- take a note of your baggage reference and get a copy of the airline’s report
- make sure to keep the luggage tag sticker you got when you checked in your luggage – it will usually be attached to your boarding pass
If your luggage is delayed, the airline can offer one of the following:
- an immediate, one off cash payment for emergency purchases
- a set amount per day until the delayed bag is returned
- a refund for emergency purchases and essential expenses on submission of receipts
Different airlines will have different rules about the help they offer for delayed luggage.
Your luggage is only declared lost after 21 days. You must claim compensation within seven days from the date it is declared lost.
To claim you will need:
- your baggage reference number
- details of what was in your luggage, including value of items
The airline will usually ask you to provide receipts.
If you’re luggage has been lost during connecting flights with different airlines, where your luggage was checked through to your final destination, you can claim from any of the airlines.
In some cases, you may find none of the airlines want to take responsibility for the loss of your luggage. They are not allowed to do this. You can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for help at the link below.
Making a complaint
If you’re not happy about how the airline handled your luggage or your claim, you can find out more about making a complaint.