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Lost, Damaged & Delayed Baggage: How to Get Compensation from United Airlines

Lost, Damaged & Delayed Baggage: How to Get Compensation from United Airlines

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: April 22, 2024

Has your luggage been lost? Maybe you’ve had an issue with damaged baggage? Most airlines don’t tell passengers that they can get compensation if they take the right steps within the right time frames. So, we’re going to show you exactly what you need to do to report and make claims for delayed, lost, or damaged baggage with United Airlines.

Key Points

  1. You need to keep receipts of anything you had to purchase because of missing or damaged baggage as well as a file reference number in order to successfully claim compensation.
  2. If you’re a passenger on a domestic flight, you can get up to US $3,800 in baggage compensation.
  3. International passengers can claim up to US $1,728 for delayed, lost, and damaged baggage.

Your rights as a passenger

Did you know that as a United Airline passenger, you have rights to compensation for lost, damaged, or delayed baggage? Most people don’t realize that the US Department of Transportation requires airlines to compensate you for baggage mishandling on domestic flights.

If you’ve had a baggage issue on an international flight, no worries, because, depending on where you traveled, the Montreal Convention or the Warsaw Convention will cover your passenger rights.

Airplane on runway

United Lost & Delayed Baggage

If you arrive at your final destination, and your luggage isn’t there within about 45 minutes of your arrival, then make a report immediately. When you do this, you’ll be given a file reference number that you should keep in case you need to file a claim.

Where to make a report

  • You can do this at the United Baggage Desk in the baggage carousel area
  • Make a report using their online report page where you can also track your baggage status
  • Phone the United Baggage Recovery Center at 1-800-335-2247

When to make your report

Time limits for reporting delayed baggage

Flights inside the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Within 24 hours of arrival

International Flights

Within 21 days of arrival

If United hasn’t delivered your delayed baggage to you in 5 days, then they consider it officially lost.

How to make a United delayed & lost baggage reimbursement claim

Once you’ve filed a report, you can go to the United Airlines claims page to file for reimbursement.

  1. Enter your file reference number
  2. Then you’ll be asked to upload documents to support your claim

Documents you’ll need for your lost & delayed baggage claim

  • Baggage claim receipts
  • Your ticket receipt or boarding pass
  • Receipts or proof of purchase for anything that was more than $100
  • Receipts for purchases you had to make as a result of your bag being delayed or lost
  • Copy of your government photo ID
  • If you’re a European passenger you’ll also need to send the name of your bank, the address, name of account, and ABA/Chips number.

Damaged Baggage

If you arrive to find that your checked baggage has been damaged by United Airlines, then you should make a report as soon as possible, ideally while you’re still at the airport.

You can make your report:

  • At the United Baggage Desk in the baggage carousel area
  • Using their online report page
  • By calling the United Baggage Recovery Center at 1-800-335-2247

Timeframes for reporting damaged baggage

Time limits for reporting damaged baggage

Flights inside the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Within 24 hours of arrival

International Flights

Within 7 days of arrival

It’s important to understand that United Airlines won’t pay for damage caused by regular wear and tear, improper packing, poorly made luggage, or if the damage was pre-existing.

If the damage is something different, then make sure you get the file reference number when you make a report, and use this to file a claim.


Make sure you bring the damaged luggage with you when you make the report so that airline staff can record the damage and help you get reimbursement.

Baggage at airport

How to file a damaged baggage claim

Damaged baggage claims are usually processed by United in 4-6 weeks, but first you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. To file a reimbursement claim with United.
  2. Go to their Damaged Baggage page.
  3. Enter your file reference number as well as a government photo ID and any receipts from purchases you had to make as a result of your damaged luggage.

What if TSA damaged my baggage

You’ll know if the TSA has caused damage to your luggage because you’ll find a notice inside your suitcase or a seal attached to the outside of your bags. United Airlines is not responsible for damage caused by the TSA.

Contact the TSA for more info by calling 866-289-9673.

How much compensation can you get from the United Airlines

United is required to compensate you for lost, damaged, and delayed baggage up to the following amounts.

Delayed Checked Baggage Compensation Liability Limits

Domestic Flights

Up to $3,800 USD

International Flights

Up to $1,728 USD

Here at AirAdvisor we're working to add baggage claims to our services, but in the meantime we want to give you as much information as possible so you can claim compensation for baggage mishandling on your own.

We work on a No-Win, No-Fee basis

AirAdvisor is happy to help with your claim, so you can avoid the stress of dealing with airlines and complicated laws.

People Also Ask

What happens if my wheelchair is damaged?

United has a dedicated email and phone number that you can call if your wheelchair has been lost or damaged. You’ll need to gather several documents including proof of purchase, wheelchair model information, your itinerary, bag tag, serial number and model of your wheelchair, your incident report number.

Call 1-866-261-2395 or email

Can I travel with sports gear?

United has a special page where you can find out how to bring various sports equipment with you on your trip. From biking to boating, you can find the details on how to bring these items with you.

Does United let you travel with pets?

Yes! United will allow each passenger to travel with two pets as long as they fit comfortably in a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. You can find more details on how to travel with your pets on United on their Traveling with Pets page.

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