Why is this important?
Can you claim compensation for luggage that's gone missing or been damaged during a flight?
If your luggage goes missing or is damaged during a flight you may be able to claim compensation from the airline. If your luggage is returned to you it's important that you report what's been damaged no later than seven days after getting you bags back.
There are no set rules about how the airline will deal with your missing or damaged luggage. In most cases you'll need to speak to them directly to find out what compensation you're entitled to.
For this reason it's always best to make sure you have enough travel insurance to cover you before you fly.
Read this page to find out more about what you may be able to claim for if your luggage goes missing or is damaged.
If your baggage is damaged during the flight
If your baggage is damaged during the flight you must make a claim to get compensation within seven days of getting your bags back.
When the airline assesses the claim, they will usually refund the value of the damaged bag and any of the contents that may have been damaged too.
You'll probably be asked to provide receipts for what's been damaged and you may not get the full value back if you've owned the bag or items for a while. This is because the airline will take money off for wear and tear and assess the claim on the current value of the items.
There is an upper limit of how much an airline has to pay in compensation. This is around £1,000.
If it's only your bag or suitcase that's been damaged, the airline often keep new ones that they can offer you as a replacement.
If there are items missing from your baggage
If you get your baggage back and find there are items missing it can be very difficult to get compensation from the airline. This is because it's difficult to prove that the items were there at all.
Most airlines say in their written terms and conditions that they won't accept responsibility for carrying certain items. These can include:
- valuables, such as cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, laptops, documents or jewellery
- perishables. These are things that may go off or spill, such as food and drink.
If you're not sure whether an airline will accept responsibility for an item you want to take on a flight, contact the airline before you fly. If an item you've packed isn't considered acceptable to be carried, you may not be able to claim any compensation if it goes missing.
If you must carry a valuable item, you should tell staff when you check in your bags at the airport and you may be able to pay an extra charge to cover it if it goes missing or is damaged during the flight.
Your baggage is labelled with a Limited Release Tag (LRT)
Some large items are attached with a Limited Release Tag (LRT) when you check them in. These can include:
- musical instruments
- sporting equipment, such as bikes, surfboards, snowboards or skis
- prams and buggies.
Limited release means the airline might try to say it's not responsible if the item is lost or damaged and may refuse your claim for compensation. If this happens, you should contact the Civil Aviation Authority for more advice about what to do.
Other useful information
To complain about a standard of service you have received, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority.
Civil Aviation Authority
You should always try to sort out a problem with the airline first.
For more information about the special rules covering delayed and lost baggage, see the Montreal Convention.