What should I do if my luggage gets lost while travelling?

Passengers are experiencing difficulties as the aviation industry seeks to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

What should I do if my luggage gets lost while travelling? iStock

Many of us are passing through airports this summer but it’s a turbulent time for the aviation industry following the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of flights have been cancelled amid staffing shortages and surging demand for air travel.

Many passengers have been left frustrated by how airlines have acted after axing flights. Furthermore, travellers are facing long queues and some have not had their luggage put on flights.

STV News takes a look at the process for reclaiming lost luggage and seeking compensation if you are affected.

Who is responsible for locating your missing baggage?

Your airline’s contracted handling agent is responsible for locating baggage, not the airport that you arrived/departed.

But you have the legal right to claim compensation from your airline if your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged.

Separately, people only have the right to claim for a problem with cabin baggage if it’s the airline’s fault.

Although not legally obliged, it is best to report any problem to the airline straight away as you’re then more likely to get any compensation you claim.

You’ll still have to make a claim for compensation after you report the problem, unless the airline decides to pay upfront for expenses while your luggage is delayed.

There are two ways to report a problem – either by filling in a “property irregularity report” (PIR) at the airport (available from customer services in the baggage claims hall) or by contacting your airline.

What can I claim from the airline?

What you can get from the airline is usually limited to money for:

  • The bare essentials you need if your luggage is delayed, eg toiletries and underwear
  • Part of the cost of replacing or repairing lost luggage and contents

If you have to collect delayed luggage yourself, you may be able to get the airline to pay for transport costs.

Airlines often want receipts for everything included in your claim, and they won’t usually pay:

  • ‘New for old’ replacement for anything lost or damaged
  • For anything valuable, fragile or perishable in checked-in luggage
  • More than around £1,000 total compensation – and it’s usually a lot less
  • For stress, inconvenience or other things that happen because of a problem with your luggage, for example, if you miss a connection
  • If your luggage was faulty

What are the deadlines for claiming?

In the majority of situations, the airline has 21 days to find your missing luggage and get it back to you.

If you get your luggage back within 21 days, you can still claim compensation for delayed luggage. If you don’t, then you can claim for lost luggage.

Damaged luggage7 days after getting your luggage
Missing or damaged contents7 days after getting your luggage
Delayed or missing luggage21 days after the flight
Lost luggage – it’s officially lost after 21 daysAs soon as possible after it’s officially lost

What documents will I need?

You’ll need the following documents in order to submit a compensation claim?

  • Your boarding card
  • Your luggage labels (these have a barcode and number to identify your luggage)
  • Proof you reported the problem, eg your PIR form or email from the airline
  • Receipts for things you had to buy because of a delay
  • Proof of purchase for lost or damaged things, eg receipts or credit card statements
  • Photos of any damage to your luggage or contents
  • Cost estimates for any repairs you’re claiming for, eg from a luggage repair business

If the airline doesn’t provide a claim form, you’ll probably have to write a letter to the airline’s customer service department.

In your letter, Citizens Advice Scotland advise stating that you’re “claiming compensation under the Montreal Convention” in order to show the airline that you know your rights. Also make sure your letter includes:

  • Details of your flight – dates, flight number, departure and destination
  • What happened to your luggage
  • How much money you’re asking for
  • A detailed description of everything that’s damaged or lost
  • A list or everything you had to buy because of a delay
  • Copies of all the documents you need

What if I’m not happy with the airline’s response?

If you’re not getting anywhere with the airline you can take your claim further.

First try complaining to the Civil Aviation Authority – use the form on the CAA website to ask them to take up your complaint with the airline.

PACT (the CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team) will only consider your luggage complaint if the airline or airport involved is not a member of an approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body.

As a last resort, you can take your case to the small claims court within two years of the flight.

Have many people been affected in Scotland?

Travellers using Edinburgh Airport have faced difficulties this summer.

Earlier this month, hundreds of missing bags were held in storage areas at the airport, with some people reporting waits of several weeks for their luggage to be returned.

And there have been further problems at Edinburgh Airport this week, with a new baggage collection facility opening on Thursday at the nearby Royal Highland Centre.

It’s the latest in a series of issues linked to baggage processing at Scotland’s biggest airport.

Earlier this week travellers waited in record-breaking heat to try and collect their luggage – including hundreds of golf bags brought over by spectators attending the Open at St Andrews – from a temporary outdoor centre run by Swissport.

What is happening at the new baggage facility?

The new facility at the Royal Highland Centre will be open each day from 9am to 5pm and parking is available at car park 6.

Passengers must take along their luggage tags and identification to access the area. Without this Swissport will be unable to return bags. No appointment is required.

Anyone who has luggage to collect and who flew with one of the following airlines can attend:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air France
  • Aer Lingus
  • Atlantic Airlines
  • Balkan
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Delta
  • Eurowings
  • Finnair
  • Jet2
  • KLM
  • Norwegian
  • Qatar
  • Ryanair
  • SAS
  • Transavia
  • TUI
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Wizz Air

Anyone whose bags were handled by Menzies, and flew with one of the following airlines, should get in touch with the handling agent or airline to arrange collection of their bags separately.

  • Air Baltic
  • British Airways
  • Edelweiss
  • Iberia
  • Loganair
  • Lufthansa
  • Sun Express
  • United
  • Vueling
  • WestJet

WFS is the handling agent for easyJet.

What are Swissport saying?

Swissport has apologised to passengers and says it hopes to reunite them with their luggage as soon as possible.

A spokesperson said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to the passengers who were not able to collect their baggage at our Edinburgh Airport holding area.

“Challenging conditions at this peak travel period led to a delay transferring the baggage from the airport terminal and this was not properly communicated.

“We’re working closely with our partners to reunite passengers with their baggage as soon as possible.”

How do I contact the handling agents?

It is likely your airline uses one of the following handling agents, which can be contacted at the numbers below:

Swissport: 0131 344 3253

Menzies: 0131 348 4241

WFS: 07990037201