delayed baggage compensation

Almost 2,6% of passengers claim mishandling of their baggage. Mishandling means that your bags are either lost or will arrive later due to some problems at the departure airport. But don’t worry too much. It can be not so bad as it looks like and in this article, you will learn how to turn this situation in your favor by applying for lost or delayed baggage compensation.

It always looks the same – believe me. I know this feeling when at the end of a long journey, you stand at the baggage claim and your bags are still missing. The last baggage is out, and yours is nowhere to be found…  You still don’t give up. You keep staring at the carousel with the hope that a miracle will happen. A voice whispers from within, “There is still one last baggage coming”. But it’s not yours and then, the reality hits you – your bags are missing…  There are two possibilities. It is either delayed or lost. Another possible situation is finding your smart luggage in lousy condition. It’s a really not funny situation looking at your pants all over the carousel belt…

As I said at the beginning, in such situations you are entitled to remuneration and below I will provide you some more details on how to approach for lost or delayed baggage compensation.

What is Lost or Delayed Baggage Compensation?

The meaning is simple – they lost your luggage so they owe you the compensation for things you lost or inconveniences which you had to face.

Thanks to the Montreal Convention, airlines take responsibility for that. AirHelp company states:

The average compensation from an airline for checked luggage that is either lost or damaged is $1,525 – $3,500, under U.S. and Montreal Convention air passenger rights laws.

So I hope now you see the light in the tunnel 🙂 Read on for a step-by-step guide on what to do.

What Should You Do in Case of Delayed or Lost Baggage?

Once the baggage carousel slows down to a stop and the last bag out is not yours, you should start to take the actions listed below. The most important is to act as soon as possible – try to be the first one in the baggage claim desk – this will save you a lot of time as the procedures on the most of airports are not so effective.

1. Go to a Baggage Claim Desk

First of all, don’t lose your baggage tag attached to boarding pass when you checked-in your bags. This is the only evidence in your hand saying that in fact, you really had a bag.

Approach the staff at the desk and explain your problem. In most cases, their location is at the airport near the baggage carousels. You can’t find the desk? It is still not yet time to give up. Call the airline responsible for your flight. As you talk to the team, stay cool. Be as polite as possible regardless of how annoying the current situation is. Failure to do that means losing the only contact you have as of now. You can’t afford that.

Lost or Delayed Baggage Compensation
It happened to me a lot of times – on the photo: I’m waiting on the MAD airport for the next plane with my suitcase from MUC

2. File the Claim

This is a significant step for lost or delayed baggage compensation. You are likely to get advice regarding how to go about it in the baggage claim desk. You will need a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). It is not only the official document but also mandatory to fill. You should do that before leaving the airport. Ensure that you don’t omit these details. Following data should be copied on that paper:

  • A reservation number which is on the ticket
  • The baggage tag number you received at the baggage check-in.
  • The manufacturer, color, and size among other details of the baggage.
  • Your address where you will be staying during the trip.
  • Your contacts in case they find it.

Do not leave the airport without a file number and a copy of your report. Be careful with it. Why? Losing it jeopardizes the chance for your delayed baggage compensation.

3. Ask for an Overnight Kit

It is a part of your delayed baggage compensation. However, an airline will offer that only during a worst-case scenario. That is when you lose luggage abroad. It would be unnecessary if your destination was your hometown. As much as airlines are usually prepared with one, don’t expect it to be given to you automatically. Therefore, you need to make a move and request. What does it contain? In most cases, you get a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, razor as well as shaving cream. In other cases, though rare, expect phone card, deodorant and an extra-large t-shirt which should be used as your pajamas. That is enough to last you a night given the situation.

4. Request for an Allowance

As you do that, see to it that these are for reasonable expenses. There are several scenarios in this case. You can receive money or a voucher. On the other hand, you can use your own money and get a refund later. In case of using your own funds, don’t lose receipts. If you do, you will be not able to prove expenditures.

5. Keep Track of the Status

Paperwork is the only requirement for lost or delayed baggage. Once it is over, all that is left is for you to wait. After 24 hours, you can check for progress. That may not be necessary if the staff contacts you. Stay alert for a message that your luggage will arrive. There are tools that can help you keep updated with its status. It’s quite comfortable.

One advice. If they will tell you that your bag will come with the next plane, it’s worth to wait for it. Don’t rely on the airport’s delivery system. Believe me – I tested it many times and if I know that my bag will arrive in a couple of hours, I stay at the airport.

6. Make the Claim Formal

This is as per the rules of the Montreal Convention. How do you do that? Write a complaint requesting payment of the money spent due to the circumstance. Remember that some airlines have a deadline to claim for lost or delayed compensation – usually it’s 7 days since the problem occurred. Keep in mind that.

Delayed vs. Lost Baggage

Luggage remains delayed until 21 days elapses. That is when its status changes, officially. Therefore, you cannot declare that a carrier has lost your bags within the first three weeks after the flight. The compensation for the two is different for obvious reasons. In case of a delay, it is more to avoid any inconveniences due to missing luggage. However, the loss means a refund. Depending on the situation, what do you get in return?

The Legal Basis for Lost Baggage Compensation

The Montreal Convention (1999)

As far as this one is concerned, there is a maximum amount of compensation. Since it involves many nations, they have a currency that they use. It goes by the name Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The maximum that you can receive is 1131 SDRs. It is equivalent to £1,000 or $1,600. It favors those traveling between two countries that are part of that agreement. If your bag contains valuable more than that, you can take a precaution. Make the liability limit relatively high. Do that using the airline’s special declaration of interest. It happens at the desk before checking in. That increases the refund to up to 2,262 SDRs.

US Code of Federal Regulations

It covers those traveling within the United States. A carrier should pay at least $3,500 for lost luggage. What if you can prove that it is more than that? The reimbursement will be more than $3,500.

However, they should not limit what you get. Sometimes you could lose too much that would be incomparable with the above amounts. If you feel so, submit a claim with all the relevant details.

Outsource the Paperwork – Claim Management Company Will Do the Job

Have you ever heard about no win, no fee claim management companies? These guys represent you for in front of the company where you made the complaint and do not charge you even a penny unless they win your case. Then it costs you about 25% of your remuneration. Sounds fair? It is, and I can tell you that they do their job. I know this from the experience with the company called Airhelp. They offer help in getting your lost or delayed baggage compensation.

It’s really worth to consider to pass your case to them – Airhelp is the biggest player on the flight claim management companies market and also the leader (since months) in my flight claim companies ranking.

I hate to deal with the paperwork, write official emails, argue with customer service, and so on. It consumes your precious time and brings no value to your life. That’s why, since I know that somebody can do it for me, Airhelp is my first choice when I seek for lost or delayed baggage compensation. If you want to know more you can read my post where I described how I got my compensation with Airhelp in a case where I thought it’s already lost.

What to Expect From Delayed Baggage Compensation

Various airlines offer different options. Common ones for delayed baggage compensation are as follows:

  1. Give you money to buy the essentials. That could be in the form of cash or a voucher.
  2. Offer you a daily allowance for the number of days that the bag will remain missing.
  3. Buy things which will replace your stuff and ask for a refund using the receipts.

That’s what you can expect as the delayed baggage compensation. However, it may turn out that your baggage is lost. That is a serious thing which requires a different approach. Fortunately, some rules exist. These rules will help you to claim what you lost.

What Not to Expect From a Lost or Delayed Baggage Compensation

Do not expect a lost or delayed baggage compensation for the following things:

  • Money
  • Silver
  • Jewelry
  • Samples
  • Business documents
  • Electronic equipment
  • Other highly valuable belongings

When You Should not Expect Lost or Delayed Baggage Compensation

Acquiring a lost or delayed baggage compensation will be next to impossible under the following circumstances.

  1. If you lose the record of the claim report
  2. In case you fail to meet the claim application deadline. Though all planes do not follow the same periods, the one below is Write to the airline attach a copy of the PIR not more than seven days after the flight.

Final Words

Delayed or lost baggage is a typical case that can happen to anybody. Therefore, please find below the lost or delayed baggage claim in a nutshell:

  • You are entitled to lost or delayed baggage compensation.
  • Proceed formal to register your claim –  remember to stick to the airline’s formal deadlines.
  • The legal basis is the Montreal Convention. There are many countries involved and the rules are regardless of the country or carrier.
  • You should expect a different compensation depend on your case. Delayed baggage compensation is more on to avoid inconveniences due to missing luggage and the loss means a refund.
  • Use help from the no win, no fee claim management companies like Airhelp to represent you in the struggle for lost or delayed baggage compensation.

What I would recommend is to assume that missing luggage situation can appear and take it into consideration while you do your packaging. I have my own experience on that and I share it with you in the article How to pack for a business trip and don’t forget anything.

I hope this article was helpful to you. Share this with friends and loved ones to protect them from suffering from a similar incident.

Valuable text? Share with others:


  1. Good morning,

    I got mu luggage delayed for 2 weeks with lufthansa and they are not responding to my messages to get a refund for all the cost I have to pay for my clothes during the 2 weeks.
    How can i get my money back if they are not responding to my emails?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Nada. Wait maybe a week more and write a Twitter or Facebook post with your story in public – maybe this will wake them up 🙂 Did you receive the reference number under which they registered your complain? Use it in communication with them. Let me know if it worked 🙂

Comments are closed.