Suitcase Gone Missing or Damaged?

Losing your suitcase can be very stressful, especially if you don’t know what to do. Here’s some advice worth reading before your trip so you can be as prepared as possible:

What You Can Do To Prepare

The first thing you should do to prepare for an upcoming trip is to get travel insurance and ensure it has baggage cover. If you already have an existing travel insurance policy it’s worth reading through the details to check you have baggage cover. If you don’t you’ll have to decide how important that level of security is to you and consider upgrading your policy.

When it comes to packing your suitcase you should keep a detailed spreadsheet with all the items packed (brand, model, colour) with any proof of purchases you have and photos of each item clearly showing the brand logo. Remember to include the suitcase as well as these can be pricey and it’s easy to forget it’s also an item. It’s a good idea to take another photo of the inside of the packed suitcase to prove all of those items are in there, should you need to file a claim with your insurance. If you are taking more than one suitcase spread essential items across them so you aren’t left without any underwear for example. Ensure you keep proof that you checked-in luggage before boarding the plane.

The Suitcase Itself

If you’re considering buying a new suitcase it’s worth checking the reviews regarding security. It’s a good idea to avoid designer brands or well-known expensive suitcases. A thief is more likely to choose the Balenciaga suitcase as it’s more likely to have expensive items inside. A unique design or colour can also be a deterrent as it would be harder for someone to walk out of baggage claim with it without you noticing. Make sure each bag is clearly labelled with your contact details and address, just in case the tags added at check-in have fallen off. 

The inside of a packed suitcase with various holiday items in teal.

Missing Suitcase

Don’t panic! A lot of missing luggage arrives on the next flight, especially if you had a connecting flight. 

Report the problem straight away to the customer service desk in the baggage claims hall, where they will have you fill in a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) form. Make sure you keep a copy of this! Next, ask the airline how they want you to send your claim and how long you have to do this. The sooner you report it the better because there is still a chance they might find your luggage and send it on to you. Officially the airline has 21 days to find it and get it to you before they have to give you any compensation. You have a legal right to claim compensation if checked-in luggage goes missing.

After 21 days it’s officially lost and you can claim compensation from the airline. If they do get it back to you then you can still claim for delayed luggage. Remember to get a written confirmation from the airline that you’ve reported it. Some have a form for you to fill in, others would like you to write a letter. Include as much detail and proof as possible in your letter and be sure to say you’re ‘claiming compensation under the Montreal Convention’ to show that you know your rights. Also include how much money you are claiming for.

As a last resort you can take the airline to small claims court but this can be expensive and time-consuming so only if you truly think your claim is worth taking to court.

The Lost & Damaged Luggage Page for British Airways as an Example

A sign for the customer service centre.

Damaged Suitcase

Report the problem straight away to the customer service desk in the baggage claims hall, where they will have you fill in a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) form. Make sure you keep a copy of this! You will also need to report the problem directly to the airline. They may have a form for you to fill in or request a letter – you have 7 days to do this. A damaged suitcase is more circumstantial as some damage could be considered general wear-and-tear of the suitcase or the result of a cheap suitcase so if the damage is just a scratch they may not do anything about it. You need to provide proof of any missing items (or proof damaged items weren’t already damaged) so this is where you will need the photos you took earlier. Airlines may choose to replace missing items instead of paying for them but they won’t usually replace it with a new version.

A significantly damaged suitcase on the baggage claim conveyor belt.

Missing or Damaged Carry-On

You can only claim compensation on missing / damaged carry-on luggage from the airline if it’s the airline’s fault, and they may request proof of this. It’s still worth reporting without proof but they may deny your request for compensation. As with checked-in luggage, fill in a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) at the customer service desk in the baggage claim hall and keep a copy then get in touch with your airline. 

Remember that any damage to the bag or the contents as a result of security checks at the airport should be reported to the airport itself. The airport might request proof if you claim they have damaged it but there is plenty of security footage in airports so if your bag was damaged in security checks then there is a good chance there will be footage of it. Still report as soon as possible as security footage is erased after a while and they may claim you are falsely reporting if you wait too long as the damage could have occurred elsewhere.

What Should You Bring in Your Carry-On Bag?

When you book your flights through us, let us know that something has gone wrong with your luggage and we’ll do everything we can to support you.

If there’s anything else you would like to know please get in touch!

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