How to claim compensation for lost, damaged or delayed luggage

You are entitled to compensation if your luggage is delayed, damaged or lost on a flight. The Montreal Convention makes airlines responsible for your bags once they are checked in. Liability is limited to around £874 at the time of writing (1,131 SDR).

What should you do if you lose your luggage?

Act Immediately

As soon as you are aware of the issue, report it to the airline. They are more likely to accept responsibility if you report the problem straight away, before leaving the luggage reclaim hall, go straight to the airline desk.

Fill out the paperwork

Ensure that you complete a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) that airline staff use to record events and details. Although not a legal requirement, failure to complete it can lead to more problems with your claim down the line.

Lost Bags

Give an accurate description of the bag detailing any distinguishing features it may have. If you are highly organised, it’s always good to have a photo of your luggage saved on your phone in case something like this ever happens. Write to the airline within seven days of the flight, enclosing the PIR.

Damaged bags

You’ll need to write to the airline within seven days of receiving the damaged luggage if you’d like to claim compensation. Enclose a copy of the PIR. Having a photo of the case in its original state before the damage would be a helpful backup to your claim.

Track Progress

If your luggage doesn’t show up after a couple of days, you can monitor it through the tracking procedure by contacting baggage services at the airport or using the online baggage tracing page. You can find out more about this from the airline.

Covering Essential Items

If your luggage goes missing while on holiday and you are stuck without any essential items, make sure you check the rules before making any purchases. Different airlines have varying rules about what is covered under essential items. Some will cover only basic toiletries and laundry, whilst others will cover the cost of replacing the missing items. Keep receipts for everything you buy to back up your claim.


The compensation will usually come in the form of a lump sum payment, once you have sent in your claim with the correct form and all of your receipts. If your luggage is missing, you may also get a daily allowance for essentials, depending on the airline. It can often take a couple of months to process claims.

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