Deal­ing with lost lug­gage

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents -

Lost, de­layed or dam­aged lug­gage will hap­pen to all of us at some point on our trav­els – it’s the mo­ment ev­ery trav­eller dreads. Here, we of­fer ad­vice on what to do when it hap­pens to you.


Head for your air­line’s desk to fill in a miss­ing or dam­aged bag form spe­cific to that car­rier. Most air­lines have a desk in the bag­gage re­claim area but, if not, don’t leave with­out a mem­ber of staff fill­ing out a Prop­erty Ir­reg­u­lar­ity Re­port. Keep a copy of this. If your lug­gage or items are dam­aged, pho­to­graph them straight away.


You should sub­mit a claim for dam­aged lug­gage in an email or let­ter within seven days. In­clude your jour­ney and con­tact in­for­ma­tion – along with de­tails about what was dam­aged and how – with be­fore and af­ter pic­tures if pos­si­ble. The seven-day dead­line is cru­cial. Af­ter this, the air­line may not be legally obliged to com­pen­sate you.


Keep re­ceipts for any­thing you buy as a re­sult of a lost or de­layed bag. You can claim from any of the air­lines you have trav­elled with on a jour­ney, al­though the fi­nal air­line usu­ally han­dles the claim so start there. You will need re­ceipts to prove the value of your bag and its con­tents. If you buy ex­pen­sive lug­gage, pho­to­graph or scan the re­ceipts and save them to a cloud-based de­vice ready for the day it goes miss­ing. The UK’s Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity (CAA) notes that air­lines do not al­low for “new for old” re­place­ments and look at the value of the item based on its age when lost.

You can in­crease the amount the air­line is li­able to pay to around £2,300 by fill­ing out a spe­cial dec­la­ra­tion of in­ter­est form at the air­port. You will have to pay a sur­charge, so it’s worth con­tact­ing your air­line in ad­vance to check how much it would cost you.

Bags are tech­ni­cally only con­sid­ered lost af­ter 21 days, so a writ­ten com­plaint should be made as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter that. If the bag is re­turned to you but you in­curred losses while it was ab­sent (re­place­ment items etc), then your com­pen­sa­tion claim must be made within 21 days of the bag get­ting back to you.


Air­lines are obliged by the Mon­treal Con­ven­tion of 1999 to com­pen­sate you if your bag is lost, de­layed or dam­aged en route, un­less it took all “rea­son­able mea­sures” to pro­tect it, or if your lug­gage was faulty.

The prob­lem is there are no rules set­ting out how much you should re­ceive. It’s capped at around £1,000, but it’s un­likely you will re­ceive any­where near that much ac­cord­ing to the CAA, which means you will have to rely on your in­sur­ance pol­icy for items that take your losses over a few hun­dred pounds.

If you are un­sat­is­fied with the air­line’s re­sponse, you can try to re­trieve dam­ages in a small claims court for up to two years after­wards, if you think it’s worth it.


Trav­ellers who check in late or trans­fer planes are more likely to lose their lug­gage. Air­line groups such as Star Al­liance of­fer a con­nec­tion ser­vice on some routes that will alert staff to quick trans­fers and pri­ori­tise mov­ing your bag. It’s also worth check­ing whether your air­line has a bag track­ing ser­vice and alert­ing them to tight trans­fers at check-in, just in case they can help you out.

The CAA rec­om­mends clearly dis­play­ing your name, ad­dress and con­tact in­for­ma­tion in­side your bag­gage in case the air­port tags are lost. Print it and leave it on top of your clothes. If your bag is a lit­tle worse for wear or you have del­i­cate items in­side, don’t for­get that mark­ing it as frag­ile is free.

In some cases, the CAA will help you make a com­plaint – a form is avail­able on its web­site ( Sev­eral web­sites will help you to check your le­gal rights and make a claim, but will likely take a chunk of what­ever you are awarded.

There are also gad­gets to help. Wis­tiki (wis­ and Tile Pro ( use Blue­tooth to track items within a 200-300 foot ra­dius. The Tile’s lo­ca­tion can also be picked up by the app on other users’ phones and re­layed to you. Miss­ing X (miss­ingx. com) is a dig­i­tal lost prop­erty net­work that claims to have re­turned nearly two mil­lion items. It lets you reg­is­ter lost items and aims to help air­ports, train sta­tions and ho­tels to con­tact you. There are also de­vices for track­ing lug­gage on flights, but check the lat­est re­views as they can be tem­per­a­men­tal. One op­tion is Re­bound Tag (re­bound­, a lug­gage tag with an RFID chip, QR code and other iden­ti­fiers, giv­ing air­ports a way to no­tify you if your bag is found – as soon as your bag is scanned, you’ll re­ceive a text.

Bag­gage mis­han­dling was re­duced from 18.88 bags per 1,000 pas­sen­gers to 5.57 be­tween 2007 and 2017, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Air Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion. But we all know it’s hap­pened at least once to any fre­quent trav­eller, so know­ing your rights might just help you out. Jenni Reid

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