How to Claim Compensation for Lost Luggage?

If your bag is lost or you haven't received it 21 days after your flight, you could get up to $3,500 in compensation. Here's how to claim, step-by-step.

How to Claim Compensation for Lost Luggage?

This post is a step-by-step guide to help you get compensation for your lost bag.

According to the Montreal Convention of 1999, you may get up to 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for your lost luggage. SDRs is the currency created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to calculate the compensation amount.

At the moment when this post is being written, you can claim up to 1,400€ for your lost luggage under the Montreal Convention. In the US, you could even claim as much as $3,500 if your luggage is lost or damaged!

Those are no small amounts of money, so while I don’t wish you the stress caused by a mishandled luggage, I think you might want to take a few minutes to learn how to claim compensation for your lost luggage.

Don’t want to handle your luggage claim on your own? Let ClaimCompass do it for you!

Simply fill out our claim form and provide the relevant documents (PIR, boarding pass, etc.) and we’ll take care of your claim.

1. Head to the baggage kiosk before leaving the airport

When it dawns on you that your bag didn’t make it to the conveyor belt at your arrival, don’t leave the airport with the intention to call the airline and complain later. Before leaving the airport, you must report your missing bag at the baggage kiosk.

It is essential that you let the airline know about your missing baggage BEFORE leaving the airport. Should you leave without doing so might result in the nullification of your right to compensation.

After submitting your complaint there, the airport staff will provide you with a Property Irregularity Report or PIR for your misplaced luggage. Hang on to this form, which contains the case number for your bags. You will need this form to submit an additional luggage compensation claim later.

2. Fill out the PIR at the airport

Make sure to be as detailed as possible when filling out the Property Irregularity Report form. Ideally, you want to list all the items in your missing baggage, as well as their value. The effort will definitely be worth it if it turns out that you are entitled to lost luggage compensation under the Montreal Convention.

If the airline doesn’t offer it, feel free to request funds to replace your “essential items” such as toiletry and a set of clothes. As per your air passenger rights, they are obligated to provide you some money for that purpose, as you wait for your delayed bag to show up or be declared lost. Some airlines also give passengers an overnight kit.

Once you’ve filled out the paperwork and got money for your reasonable expenses, you may leave the airport.

3. Submit a lost baggage claim

Keep in mind that ClaimCompass can take care of your luggage compensation claim for you. But if you want to do it on your own, here’s what you need to know.

International flights

If 21 days have passed since you reached your final destination after your international flight and your luggage hasn’t been found, it will be declared “lost”.

You can now file a lost luggage compensation claim under the Montreal Convention. Since the compensation amount is determined by the “damage” caused by the loss of your bag, that’s where the detailed list of items it contained you filled out at the airport comes into play, as the airline is liable up to 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (approximately $1,800 or 1,500€).

Domestic flight

Now, in the case of a domestic US flight, there isn’t a specific deadline stated by law after which your piece of luggage is declared lost. Different airlines have different policies when it comes to mishandled luggage.

But according to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), most airlines’ policy on the matter vary from 5 to 14 days. This means that you can generally submit your claim earlier than for international flights.

And that’s not even the best part! According to US regulations, the maximum baggage liability amount is set at $3,500.

4. Get compensation for lost luggage

Most baggage claims take between 1 and 3 months before being solved. One important thing to keep in mind is that should your bag show up after being declared “lost”, you are still entitled to compensation.

This means that, in an “ideal” scenario, you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible depending on whether it was a domestic flight in the United States or an international one, AND you also receive your luggage.

The compensation amount for lost luggage can be up to up to $3,500.

ClaimCompass handles delayed and lost luggage claims!

Simply fill out our claim form and provide the relevant documents (PIR, boarding pass, etc.) and we’ll take care of your claim.


Can I submit a lost luggage claim after leaving the airport?

To maximize your chances of receiving compensation, you must get in touch with the airline before leaving the airport. Once you realize that your checked bag didn’t make it to the carousel, head to the airline’s baggage desk to fill out a Property irregularity Report (PIR).

Which airline should I submit the claim with if I had a connecting flight?

According to SITA - the leading provider of IT services to over 400 airlines worldwide - the most common reason is the transfer of luggage from one aircraft to another, accounting for 46% of all delayed bags. If your itinerary included a connection and the different airlines operated each leg of the journey, we recommend contacting the airline which operated the last flight, to your final destination.

How should I fill out the Property Irregularity Report (PIR)?

First, make sure that your contact information (name, address, phone number)  is correct. Then, list as many of the items contained in your lost checked baggage as possible… but do so honestly. Lying about the contents or the value of your luggage may result in you getting less compensation than you were actually owed. Finally, take note of your file reference number.

How much should I get from the airline to replace my “essential items”?

While you wait for your luggage to be returned to you, the airline must provide you with funds to replace essential items, including toiletries like toothbrush, as well as clothes if you didn’t have any packed in your carry-on luggage or were traveling without one. There is no specific amount planned by law, but the DOT does state that “airlines are not allowed to set an arbitrary daily amount for interim expenses.  For example, an airline cannot have a policy that they will reimburse a passenger up to only $50 for each day that a passenger’s bag is delayed.”

What documents should I provide to file a compensation claim?

  1. The Property Irregularity Report (PIR) that you filled out at the airport (as proof that you let the airline know immediately and to detail the contents of your bag)
  2. Your boarding pass or eticket (to prove you were on this flight)
  3. Your luggage tag (given to you at the check-in desk when you dropped off your luggage)
  4. The receipts for the valuable items in your luggage, as proof of their value

You may not have the receipts for the content of your luggage - don’t worry too much about it if that’s the case. Airlines are usually fair in assessing the value of your luggage’s content.

Am I entitled to something else for my lost or delayed luggage?

In addition to their duty to locate and return your luggage and pay compensation when applicable, the airline also owes you the reimbursement of the baggage fees you paid to have your luggage checked-in (if it wasn’t included in the price of your ticket).

Conclusion on how to claim compensation for lost luggage

The process of claiming compensation for your lost luggage can be daunting, as you often have to fight with the airline to get the money you deserve. You want to make sure that you’re clear on the steps to take to receive the money you’re owed.

Alternatively, ClaimCompass can handle the whole process for you. Simply declare your luggage as delayed while you’re at the airport, fill out the paperwork, and file a claim online when it is declared lost or missing for more than 21 days. We’ll handle the rest.