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Lost, Delayed & Damaged Baggage Compensation in the EU: How Much Can You Claim

Lost, Delayed & Damaged Baggage Compensation in the EU: How Much Can You Claim

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: May 13, 2024

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Baggage problems are always frustrating, but the good news is that you’re covered by EU Law that has comprehensive regulations safeguarding air passengers.

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If you’ve encountered baggage issues and your flight falls into any of the following categories, then you could receive compensation up to €1,620.

  • If you’ve flown within the boundaries of the European Union and your flight was operated by either an EU or a non-EU airline.
  • If your flight lands in the EU from a destination outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline.
  • If your flight originates in the EU and heads to a non-EU nation, regardless of whether it's operated by an EU or a non-EU airline.
  • If you have not yet received compensation, re-routing, or any assistance from the airline for flight-related issues during this journey under the applicable laws of a non-EU country.

KEY POINTS

  • You can receive up to €1,620 for lost, delayed, and damaged baggage.
  • Your baggage rights are covered under the Montreal Convention.
  • If your wheelchair or other mobility equipment are lost or damaged while being handled at the airport or transported on an aircraft, you are entitled to compensation.
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What are my rights as an EU passenger?

As a passenger in the EU, your rights are covered under European Regulation (EU) 261/2004 and the Montreal Convention.

Regarding compensation, the Montreal Convention states that the airline's responsibility for luggage issues is capped at a maximum of 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

What are SDRs?

SDRs represent the combined value of various currencies and, as of January 2023, are approximately equal to €1,620. This limit is non-negotiable. Therefore, in cases of lost or damaged baggage, you could receive compensation up to 1,288 SDR or €1,620.

Can I get compensation for damaged baggage?

If you find that your checked baggage was damaged or destroyed during your flight, you have the option to seek compensation from the carrier for the cost of your suitcase and the damaged items (as per (EC) No 889/02 of the Montreal Convention).

If your hand luggage was damaged, the airline is also responsible if it was at fault for the damage.

If your damaged luggage costs less than €1,600, you are entitled to reimbursement for the actual loss incurred.

If the damage exceeds €1,600, you are eligible for compensation equal to this maximum limit. Additionally, you have the right to pursue legal action under the laws of your country of residence to seek further compensation.

To get compensation for your damaged baggage:

  1. Report the damage to the airline immediately at their service desk, and make sure that you file a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport.
  2. Keep track of your PIR reference number, as it will be needed to track the progress of your request and the airline's actions.
  3. Have your damaged luggage inspected before leaving the airport. The airline will decide whether to repair, replace, or compensate you in another manner.
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If you choose to file a claim, gather all supporting documentation and file within 7 days of your flight.

If specific items inside your baggage were damaged, submit a complaint to the airline detailing those items.

It is important to note that the airline is unlikely to replace or compensate for all items in your bag, especially electronics and fragile items.

If you are carrying valuable items, consider purchasing additional coverage at the airport for an extra fee. This would cover all your items in case of luggage damage or loss. Also, having receipts for your items will strengthen your claim and increase the likelihood of receiving a higher compensation amount.

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Compensation for delayed baggage

The Montreal Convention also offers protection to passengers whose luggage is delayed during international flights between member states that have ratified it. Under the rules of the treaty, a bag is categorized as "delayed" for a period of 21 days;after 21 days, it is deemed "lost".

To claim compensation for delayed luggage on international or EU flights, follow these steps:

  1. Immediately report your delayed baggage to the lost luggage desk of your operating carrier. Do not leave the airport without filing a Property Irregularity Report (PIR).
  2. Record your PIR reference number as it is essential for tracking the progress of your request and the actions taken by the airline.
  3. Keep receipts for any unforeseen expenses incurred due to your lost/delayed luggage. Most of these expenses can be reimbursed once you file your claim.
  4. Submit a delayed luggage claim with the airline within 21 days of getting your bags. You can do this either on their official website or by mail. Remember to include receipts for any essential purchases you had to make because of your delayed luggage.

Airline lost luggage

What if the airline loses my luggage?

First, it’s important to understand that airlines typically do not replace personal items on a new-for-old basis. They consider wear and tear and reimburse an amount equal to the current depreciated value.

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According to the Montreal Convention, the airline must reimburse you for necessary expenses, up to approximately €1,600 per passenger.

The process for claiming lost bags is similar to that of delayed baggage:

  1. Report your missing bags immediately at the lost luggage desk of your airline.
  2. File a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport.
  3. Keep your PIR reference number for monitoring your request's status and the airline's actions. You’ll also need this to file a claim.
  4. Retain receipts for any unplanned expenses resulting from your lost luggage. Most of these expenses can be reimbursed once you file your claim.
  5. If your luggage is declared lost (after 21 days), create a detailed list of its contents. The airline will likely request receipts for these items. Try to locate these receipts or provide alternative proof like bank or credit card statements.
  6. File a lost luggage claim with the airline, either online or by mail. Attach your receipts and the list of items from your bag.

EU Compensation for mobility equipment or assistive devices

If an airline loses or damages your wheelchair or assistive device(s) during travel, then EC 1107/2006 provides certain protections.

According to this regulation, if your wheelchair or other mobility equipment are lost or damaged while being handled at the airport or transported on an aircraft, you are entitled to compensation, as per international, community, and national laws.

This regulationdoes not ensure complete coverage for repair or replacement costs, as U.S. law does.

The Montreal Convention, however, will apply in these situations. And despite the treaty’s liability limits, there have been instances where EU airlines have paid the entire cost of repairing or replacing damaged wheelchairs, even if it exceeds the Convention's limits. But these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by the airline.

Lost EU baggage

Steps to file an EU baggage claim

Before filing a claim, it's crucial to report the issue while you’re still at the airport. Visit the Baggage Claim Desk, typically located near the baggage reclaiming area. Taking prompt action is vital if you hope to get compensated for luggage problems.

In most situations, you'll be required to complete a 'property irregularity report' (PIR) at the airport. If you haven't done this, reach out to the airline via their website and ensure you obtain written confirmation of your report.

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Be aware of filing deadlines. Claims usually must be submitted within 7 days of your flight, so be mindful of these time constraints. Failing to file within the stipulated time frame could result in your claim being denied.

Claim Type

Deadline

Damaged Luggage

File within 7 days of receiving your bags

Missing or damaged contents

Within 7 days after receiving your bags

Delayed Luggage

Within 21 days after you are reunited with your baggage

Lost Luggage

As soon as possible after 21 days when it is considered officially lost.

Check your insurance coverage

If your travel or home insurance includes luggage coverage, consider initiating a claim through your insurance provider. Additionally, check whether the credit card company you used to book your flight offers any coverage for lost or damaged baggage. Utilizing these options can streamline the process and potentially result in higher compensation.

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Pro Tip: If your trip involves multiple airlines and you need to file a claim for a lost or damaged bag, you can seek compensation from any of them. However, it's usually the last airline on your itinerary that manages the claim, making them the appropriate initial contact for your claims process.

Documents needed to file a baggage claim

As soon as you realize your baggage is delayed, missing, or damaged, compile as much documentation as possible. You have improved chances of airline compensation if you can sufficiently back up your case.

Necessary documents to include in a baggage claim:

  • Boarding passes, ticket receipts, or other proof of purchase
  • A copy of the report you filed at the airport (Property Irregularity Report). This may include a reference number crucial for your claim.
  • Photos of the inside and outside of your bags before your flight
  • Photos of any damage to your bags
  • Receipts and/or an itemized list of your luggage contents that were damaged or lost
  • Original receipts for purchases made due to a delayed bag
  • Checked bag receipts
  • A copy of your photo ID

Documents needed to file a baggage claim

EU baggage claims FAQ

What are my rights as an EU passenger if my flight is delayed or canceled?

As a passenger in the EU, you are protected by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. which entitles you to compensation, assistance, and reimbursement for flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding in certain circumstances.

How much compensation can I get if my flight is delayed or canceled?

Any compensation is based on the length of your flight and the duration of the delay. It can range from €250 to €600 for flights within the EU as well as flights to or from the EU, depending on distance.

What are the restrictions on electronic devices during flights within the EU?

Generally, electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are allowed to be used during flights in airplane mode. Larger devices might need to be stowed during takeoff and landing, following the instructions of the flight crew.

Can I bring duty-free items on board?

Yes, duty-free items purchased at the airport are generally allowed on board. However, there might be restrictions on liquids, and it's a good idea to check with the airline for specific guidelines.

*Remember that regulations and policies can vary between airlines, so it's always a good idea to check with your specific airline or the airport for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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