Delayed, lost or damaged luggage
Airlines have a liability to compensate you for any lost, delayed or damaged luggage. Airlines’ liability is limited to approximately EUR 1,600, unless you have paid extra for a higher amount of compensation in advance.
If your luggage does not arrive on the same flight as you, fill out a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) form in the arrivals hall of the airport and ask for a copy for yourself. The right to compensation for delayed luggage often depends on whether the luggage is delayed on the outbound leg of the journey or the return leg.
Outbound leg: You can claim compensation from the airline for any essential purchases such as personal hygiene products and clothing needed during the period of time you must spend without your luggage at the destination. You have an obligation to minimise the costs incurred, which means only purchasing what is absolutely necessary. Some airlines provide their passengers with a set of essential items or a voucher to make essential purchases in these circumstances.
Return leg: As delayed luggage on the return leg does not generally cause the same degree of inconvenience as it does on the outbound leg, the passenger does not usually have a case for compensation.
Once your delayed luggage has been returned to you, you have 21 days to file a written claim for compensation. Address the claim to the airline and enclose a copy of the PIR form and receipts of any purchases you had to make. Write a brief description of the goods purchased on each receipt. Retain copies of the receipts. Please note that if an airline’s terms and conditions prohibit placing certain items (such as jewellery, money or medicines) in hold luggage, you cannot claim compensation for the delayed arrival of these items if you have not abided by the rules.
Airlines cannot be held liable for delayed luggage if they can prove that all reasonable measures were taken to avoid the damages incurred. Compensation is generally not awarded in cases where delayed luggage is the result of weather conditions, security risks or labour disputes. However, the airline must provide proof of the cause of the delay and justify its actions.
Luggage is considered to be lost if it has not been returned to you within 21 days of the arrival of your flight. You have the right to claim compensation for lost luggage from the airline. The claim should include the PIR form and an inventory of the contents of the lost suitcase or bag, including the value and time of purchase of each item. Please note that if an airline’s terms and conditions prohibit placing certain items (such as jewellery, money or medicines) in hold luggage, you cannot claim compensation for the loss of these items if you have not abided by the rules.
The airline is likely to ask you to present receipts to demonstrate the value of your lost items. If you do not have the receipts, indicate the time of purchase of each item and its purchase price in the inventory as accurately as you can. Note that you will not be compensated for the full purchase price or the price of a new item to replace a lost one; the amount of compensation will reflect how much use you have got out of each item, and depreciation will be taken into account.
If your luggage is damaged, you can claim compensation from the airline by filling out a PIR form in the arrivals hall of the airport. If you do not report the damage as soon as you get your luggage, it can be practically impossible for you to prove that the damage occurred while the luggage was in the airline’s care. In addition to filling out the PIR form, you must also notify the airline of the damage in writing. File your written damage report as soon as you can and enclose a copy of the PIR form. Describe the damage and provide photographic evidence if possible. Be prepared to also demonstrate the value of the damaged item and note that the amount of compensation will be lower than the price that you paid for the item when it was new. If you do not report the damage within seven days of receiving your luggage, you cannot claim compensation.
Please note that airlines cannot be held liable if the damage is due to your luggage being faulty or of poor quality. With regard to damage caused to hand luggage, airlines can only be held liable if the damage was caused by negligence on the part of the airline or its staff.
For information about filing complaints, see Complaints.