Sometimes, luggage, for some reason or another, never arrives at its intended destination, or if it does, it might turn up damaged, or with some of its contents missing, or even destroyed.
If the luggage is damaged, delayed, or lost, all situations are covered by the Convention of Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage, known as the Montreal Convention, transposed into European law by Regulation 889/2002
Under this Convention, the airline is liable for damages. The Convention sets out a maximum limit on the airline’s liability of 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) (around €1550) per passenger in the case of luggage delays as it sets out time limits on making compensation claims.
What shall I do in case my luggage is damaged / delayed / lost?
- If you notice your luggage has been damaged, you must notify in writing the carrier as soon as possible, within 7 days. After the 7 days have passed, you are not entitled to claim compensation for your damaged luggage.
- If the luggage is delayed, a complaint must be made within 21 days, in writing from the date on which the luggage has been placed at his or her disposal. If you need to buy essential items such as toiletries and clothes while waiting for your luggage to be retrieved, you must retain all receipts of your purchases to claim the expenses you have incurred.
Note: The carrier should not be held liable for damage caused by such delay if it proves that it and its servants and agents took all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for it or them to take such measures.
- In the case of lost checked luggage, you are entitled to compensation up to luggage value. It is considered lost if it has not arrived within 21 days after your notice, or the carrier itself admitted that your luggage was lost. You must put forward your complaint within 7 days after the luggage has been declared lost.
Note: Most airlines decline responsibility for valuable items such as jewellery and electrical goods carried as checked baggage. It is highly recommendable to go through the list for checked-in luggage of the chosen airline carefully. Most likely you will find this information in the section related to the transport conditions.
What are the key steps to follow if my luggage has not reached its destination?
If your luggage was damaged, delayed or lost, then you must take the following steps:
- Compile a PIR document (Property Irregularity Report) at the airport and keep a copy of it.
- Keep your boarding passes and the luggage receipts that you were given at check in.
- Ensure you have contact details of the luggage department where you can contact until you wait for your luggage. There may also be the possibility to check the status of your luggage through an online tracer system.
- Return all the receipts of any purchases made to claim the expenses you have incurred because of the delay.
- Always contact the airline / airport in writing.
Do these rights apply in the case of hand luggage?
All the above rules relating to check in luggage do not apply to hand luggage. Hand luggage falls ultimately under your responsibility.
Different airlines within and from any destination in the EU have varying rules about luggage, size, and weight. So, it is best to get this information from your airline before departure.
Keep in mind, that all items in the hand luggage will be X-Ray screened at the airport. Thus laptops, tablets or other large electrical items must be removed from hand luggage and placed in another tray together with other items such as coins, keys, mobile phones.
All cosmetics and toiletries should not exceed 100ml in volume and are placed in one standard plastic bag with a maximum volume of 1 litre. However, there is an exception for medicines, dietary liquids such as baby food when travelling with a baby or infant (0-24 months) and liquid products purchased from the airport duty–free shops or the air carrier.