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Compensation Rules for Lost or Damaged Luggage

If an airline has mishandled your luggage it can seriously dampen the enjoyment of your holiday. 

If you are unfortunate enough to have your luggage damaged or lost altogether, however, you may be able to claim compensation from the airline or through your travel insurance provider.

If an airline has mishandled your luggage it can seriously dampen the enjoyment of your holiday. If you are unfortunate enough to have your luggage damaged or lost altogether, however, you may be able to claim compensation from the airline or through your travel insurance provider.

The maximum amount payable for mishandled baggage claims is €1,131 (about £934) per passenger, unless you made what is known as a ‘special declaration of interest in the delivery of your luggage’ before it was lost.

What to do if your luggage doesn’t turn up

You may arrive at an airport all set to enjoy your holiday when your bags fail to emerge onto the carousel, leaving you in an unfamiliar place with only a small selection of your possessions. Or you might have just arrived back home after a holiday of a lifetime, only to have the experience tarnished.

If this happens you should inform the luggage handling desk at the airport and complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). In the vast majority of cases, the airline will be able to trace your bags and will inform you accordingly. It can then be arranged for the bags to be returned to you free of charge.

Get in touch with the airline to find out what sort of emergency assistance they are prepared to provide you with in the meantime, such as payment for essentials like toiletries and additional clothes.

If your luggage is damaged

If your luggage is returned to you but has been damaged, you must write to the airline within seven days of receiving it if you wish to claim compensation. You could be paid compensation for the value of the damaged bag or suitcase plus any items that have sustained damage. You may need to provide receipts for these.

Lost baggage

Your luggage is considered lost if it still remains unaccounted for after 21 days. In this instance, you should write to the airline within seven days of the luggage being declared lost. You should be awarded compensation appropriate to the value of the items in your luggage, but it is unlikely that you will be reimbursed for the full cost of replacing your items, as the airline will deduct for wear and tear.

Connecting flights

If you made a multi-stop flight with multiple airlines, you can make a claim for lost or delayed baggage against any of the airlines you flew with, although airlines may not take responsibility unless they were the last carrier that you flew with. If none of the airlines accept responsibility, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority for advice.

Compensation for stress and inconvenience

Airlines generally do not accept liability for any stress, inconvenience or further problems resulting from the mishandling of baggage. If you do wish to pursue a claim for damages, you will have to do so through the small claims court.

Travel Insurance

Alternatively, if you took out a travel insurance policy before travelling, you may be able to make a claim for lost, stolen or damaged luggage on the policy. The limit that insurers will pay out is usually between £1,500 and £2,000.


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