How to claim for lost luggage

Published: 13/04/2016

As exciting as going on holiday is there is one part of jetting off that terrifies me. No, it’s not a fear of flying, it’s the gut wrenching anxiety that comes with waiting for your bags to come off the carousel! I get so worried that I always pack a couple of outfits, a bikini and some underwear in my hand luggage just in case! But should these fears ever become reality, you are entitled to claim compensation for lost, late or damaged luggage and here’s how:

Alert the airline

Before you make a claim you should report the issue to the airline immediately. Whilst legally you don’t have to do this, in our experience you’re more likely to get compensation than if you do not. Typically you will need to fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form which is available from customer services at baggage claim.

Alternatively you can email or contact the airline through their website informing them of the issue but make sure you get the airline to confirm, in writing, you have reported it.

In either case keep a copy of the PIR or written confirmation.

What can I claim for?

You can make a claim against an airline if your checked in luggage is delayed, damaged or lost as well as for any lost or damaged contents.

Claiming for Deadline for claiming
Damaged luggage Within 7 days of getting your luggage
Missing or damaged contents Within 7 days of getting your luggage
Delayed or missing luggage 21 days after the flight

Luggage is officially classified as lost after 21 days. To claim for lost luggage you need to wait until 21 days after your flight and then submit your claim as soon as possible.

Securing compensation

As with all compensation claims you need to provide as much proof as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of success. This includes receipts or credit card statements for its contents.

TOP TIP: If you’re anything like me you can’t help but treat yourself to a couple of new holiday purchases. Make sure you keep those receipts safe until you get home (hopefully with your luggage intact).

In addition to proof of purchases, you’ll also need to provide the following information:

  • Boarding card
  • Luggage labels (if possible)
  • Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form or email to the airline (e.g. proof you reported the problem)
  • Proof of damage (e.g. photos)
  • Receipts for anything you had to buy whilst waiting for your luggage.

When it comes to making the claim ask the airline how you should submit it (i.e. claim form/letter). Be sure to state you are:

“claiming compensation under the Montreal Convention”

The letter should also include:

  • Flight details (dates, flight number etc.)
  • The status of your luggage (lost, damaged, delayed)
  • Details of everything that was lost or damaged and everything you need to buy due to the delay/loss
  • How much compensation you are asking for (be realistic – airlines won’t usually pay more than £1000 total compensation and it’s typically a lot less).

The airline will then make a decision regarding your claim.

I’m not happy

If the airline does not, in your opinion, come back with a reasonable offer, or if they ignore your claim, then there are a couple of opinions available.

If you had travel or home contents insurance which cover luggage, you can claim through them. In fact, you may be better to make your initial claim through your insurance company as it is likely you’ll have a better response and an easier claims process.

If you bought any of the contents on a credit or store card and it cost over £100 then you may be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Section 75 laws mean your credit card company must protect purchases over £100 so if there’s a problem you could get your money back. Please be aware this is only for items over £100 each, not a combined total.

Failing that there is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who can take up your complaint with the airline. You can escalate your claim via its website.

Finally there is the small claims court. Check out our article – Small Claims Court: How to bring a claim for full details.

Content correct at time of publication

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