How To Get Airline Compensation For Delayed Baggage, Lost Luggage

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Can you get airline compensation for delayed baggage and lost bags? If you travel, you’ll likely find yourself asking this question at one point or another.

In fact, according to recent statistics, more than 20 million bags are mishandled each year by airlines worldwide.

It can be a frustrating situation to navigate after a long, tiring flight when you arrive at your travel destination without your bags and belongings.

So what do you do without your belongings?

Read more to find out whether you’re entitled to compensation for delayed and lost baggage.

Airline compensation for delayed baggage
You may be able to get airline compensation for delayed baggage and lost luggage.

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn whether and how to get airline compensation for delayed baggage, including:

Are Airlines Required to Compensate You For Delayed or Lost Baggage?

Picture this:

You’re in an unfamiliar location without fresh clothes, toiletries, work equipment, or other essential items.

What do you do without your belongings?

Do you have to replace everything yourself? And what is the airline liable for and what is your responsibility?

You’ll find the answers these questions with helpful advice about what to do in these situations as you continue reading.

Fortunately, in many cases you may be entitled to compensation for your lost or damaged bags and belongings.


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When is a Bag Officially Considered “Lost?”

If you arrive at your destination and realize that your bags are nowhere to be found, you might reasonably figure that they have been lost in transit.

Unfortunately, an airline’s timeline of when a bag is officially considered missing may be much longer than with what you are comfortable.

Although every airline has a different policy for when bags are officially deemed lost, most will declare a bag missing between five and fourteen days after your flight landed.

Additional factors that may impact the timeline of a lost bag declaration include:

  • Whether you were on an international or domestic flight
  • If you’ve traveled on more than one airline en route to their destination
  • The airline’s searching protocols

You may, understandably, be unhappy about waiting around for up to two weeks for an airline to declare your belongings as lost.

Fortunately, airlines are required to compensate you for bags that are damaged or delayed, not just lost entirely.

If your bags do not arrive at your destination when you do, file a baggage claim as soon as you possibly can – ideally before leaving the airport!

Is The Airline Liable For a Lost or Delayed Bag?

Unfortunately, this answer isn’t exactly simple.

The short answer is, yes, to an extent.

While the bag is in transit, meaning any bag you check with the airline, the airline is responsible to deliver it back to you in the same condition it was in when you handed it over.

This covers a bag’s contents and physical condition, excluding natural wear and tear.

However, the guarantee of the bag’s contents is only up to a set monetary value. And that’s only if you properly declare them at the time you check the bag.

In other words, the airline must be aware of both the presence of your bag and what is in it at the time of the flight to be able to guarantee it.

Even then, your baggage is only protected up to the limits of the airline’s liability policy. So, expensive items may not be covered.

It’s a good idea for you to research this information before your flight. The airline should give you this information up front or you can ask for it before you book your travel plans.

It’s worth noting that airlines are not allowed to establish policies that set arbitrary daily limits for interim expenses.

For example, if all of your bags are delayed on a connecting flight, the responsible airline cannot whimsically decide that it will only reimburse you $100 per day the bags are missing.

A policy of this nature, if illegally enacted, would hurt passengers traveling with valuable belongings well beyond the arbitrary coverage limit.

Exceptions to the Rule

Airline compensation for delayed baggage
Once an airline accepts a piece of baggage for an international flight, they are responsible for it.

As with anything, there are exceptions to an airline’s liability when carrying your baggage.

Most airlines have a liability disclaimer that states what items they are and are not liable for on domestic flights.

This includes not covering things that may be transported as part of baggage, like:

  • Perishable goods
  • Jewelry and expensive items
  • Fragile items and other easily breakable items .

If your items were safely packaged and still got damaged through the negligence of another party, it is reasonable for you to expect compensation for their lost value.

Airlines are also only responsible for what they know is in baggage.

So, hiding or choosing not to declare items that are then lost may mean you get know compensation for those items, regardless of their value.

Normal wear and tear on your bags is not something that most airlines are willing to cover. An airline’s definition of these types of damages may include “scratches, stuff marks, stains, dents, and dirt.”

Before booking your flight, carefully review each airline’s policies on normal wear and tear to determine what damages would and would not be covered if an accident occurred.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Transportation states that airlines may not exclude liability for damage to:

  • Straps
  • Wheels
  • Handles
  • Other components of checked bags

The rules on international flights are a bit different. Once an airline accepts a piece of baggage for an international flight, they are responsible for it.

This responsibility also extends to the domestic leg of the flight.

In some cases, though, there may be additional rules that vary by airline.

Related: 7 Important Tips for Choosing Your Essential Travel Bags and Wallets

What Should I Do to Protect Myself and My Baggage?

Airline compensation for delayed baggage
Know the airline’s baggage policy before you check your bag.

There are two things that you should do before you fly with any airline.

1. Know the Airline’s Baggage Policy

To begin, ask for a copy of their baggage policy. You’ll want to read their terms carefully and be sure to properly declare all the items you are carrying with you.

This will ensure that anything that is lost should be covered by their baggage liability policy. If your bag is misplaced, delayed, or damaged, you can initiate a claim immediately.

2. Get An Insurance Policy

If you feel that the airline’s liability policy for baggage is insufficient or items that you are carrying may not be covered, then it is a good idea to purchase additional travel insurance. Get coverage that will cover your baggage while it is in transit.

This way, if you end up losing important or valuable items, you do not have to worry about the limits of the airline’s policy. You can secure compensation directly through your insurance company.

Final Thoughts on Airline Compensation For Delayed Baggage

Experiencing delayed baggage or lost items during travel can be a stressful and inconvenient experience. However, it’s important to know your rights and options when it comes to airline compensation for delayed baggage.

By understanding what you’re entitled to and taking proactive steps to report the issue, you can often receive reimbursement for expenses incurred due to the delay.

Remember to keep receipts for any purchases made to replace essential items. And, don’t hesitate to contact the airline if you have any questions or concerns.

With these tips in mind, you can minimize the impact of lost or delayed baggage on your travel experience and focus on enjoying your trip.

Next Steps

For more useful tips about air travel, read the articles below, next:


James Bourke
James Bourke

Author Biography: An avid traveler and adventurer, James began writing about travel safety tips and tricks after a particularly eventful backpacking trip across the northern region of Europe. When he’s not enjoying a local hike or editing his latest article, James enjoys spending time with close friends and family.