What are your rights if an airline loses your luggage?

Images of luggage placed in bins at Dublin Airport, shared exclusively with UTV Credit: UTV

Sun, sea, sand and lost or damaged luggage…

That’s the story many air-passengers have been recalling this summer due to issues locating their baggage once they land.

Last week, UTV gained exclusive access to footage of Dublin Airport showing hundreds of unclaimed bags, with some even being placed in bins by airline baggage handlers such as Sky Handling Partner.

When contacted for comment, the firm told UTV that some items of luggage had to be placed in bins as they contained"perishable items" which were "attracting vermin, whereby the bags have had to be removed to be destroyed for health and safety reasons".

After viewing the images the Irish Parliament’s Transport Committee has requested answers and has given ground handlers and airlines two weeks to get luggage back to their owners.Not all bags will of course face the same fate, but what are your rights if you are travelling and your luggage is lost, damaged or delayed?

  • Why are airlines struggling to manage passengers’ baggage?

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many former airline employees have left the industry. As a result, there aren’t always enough aviation professionals available to deliver pre-pandemic levels of service. That’s caused issues for baggage handlers as well as security check-in staff with passengers being advised to leave extra time to avoid long queues.

  • What if my bag is damaged?

It’s important that you report any damage to your luggage to airline staff before you leave the airport. Ask them to record the damage and request a copy of the report. Take pictures of your bags and also hold on to the luggage reference code that you were given at check in. You can write to your airline up to seven days after retrieving your luggage to complain and seek compensation.

  • What if my baggage is delayed?

If your bag doesn’t arrive on time, your airline may be able to help you in one of the following ways. They may give you a one-off payment for emergency purchases, they may provide you with a set payment per day until you’re reunited with your case, or they may refund any payments you’ve made for emergency items while your case was missing. If your airline decided to go down the refund route, you’ll need to provide them with receipts of items that you bought. Each airline will have different policies, so make sure you check online for more information.

  • What should I do if I can’t find my bag at the airport?

Contact your airline desk and make them aware that you’re having issues locating your luggage before leaving the airport. Keep a note of your luggage reference and hold onto the luggage sticker you were given when you checked in your bag.

  • If my airline can’t locate my bag, what should I do?

Most bags should eventually turn up, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating for holiday-makers who want their personal items returned to them as soon as possible. After three weeks, if you haven’t been reunited with your bag you are entitled to claim the value of the contents if you can prove it. You are able to claim around £1,000.

  • How can I make a claim?

To claim for lost luggage you’ll need to provide your baggage reference number and a list of items that were inside your bag. Your airline may ask you to provide receipts of these items. Airlines are responsible for your luggage from the moment you check in until you pick it up. If an airline refuses to take responsibility for luggage that it was transporting, you can complain to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

  • How can I ensure my luggage won’t be lost?

It’s not an ideal solution, and it won’t suit every passenger, but you could consider taking a cabin bag onboard instead of placing luggage in the hold. This option means your luggage won’t be left behind, but you will need to ensure you follow all cabin luggage guidance in relation to electrical items and liquids. Passengers taking liquid in a cabin bag are restricted to carrying containers which hold no more than 100ml, and they must show these in a clear, resealable plastic bag when passing through security. Check your airline website for cabin baggage measurements and weight restrictions.

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