You wait beside the conveyor belt, and see your luggage coming toward you. When it arrives, you want to pull your hair out. The luggage wheels and handle are broken, and you see a dime-sized hole on the side.
According to SITA, airlines damaged 24 million bags worldwide in 2019. However, you have hope. In the next five minutes, learn everything about what to do if airlines damage your luggage.
Photograph Your Luggage – Before and After the Damage
Why are photographs essential in a damaged baggage claim? The photographs serve as evidence.
You’re honest and would never file a false claim. However, airlines don’t have a way to confirm your honesty, so they demand photographic evidence.
Take photographs of both the exterior and interior of the luggage. Take another photograph with the packed items. The photographs will prove the luggage was in good condition when you checked it in.
Afterwards, when you take the bag from the luggage carousel, check for any damage. If you see damage, take pictures. Click photos of the luggage tags and barcodes as well.
Remember to get photos from all angles.
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Notify the Airline’s Baggage Service
To report damaged baggage, file a claim at the airline’s baggage service office. You’ll find the office beside the luggage carousel or the ticket counter. You’ll head over to the office to report a missing bag as well.
The baggage service representative will ask you to fill a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form. Furthermore, share your boarding pass or ticket, and the photographs of your luggage. If you don’t have photographs, share a description of your luggage when you checked it in. If you remember, share from where you purchased the bag and for what cost.
The representative can offer you a replacement bag or damaged baggage compensation for repair as well. Representatives decide the compensation as per the bag’s price and its depreciation value.
If the airline baggage service office is closed, go to the airline’s check-in counter to begin the claim process.
What if your claim isn’t settled on the spot? The representative will share a claim number, also known as a reference number or file number. You can track the status of your claim online with the number. You can jot down the representative’s name, any relevant phone number, and email address as well.
Always hold on to the damaged bag until the airline settles your claim.
What If You Left the Airport?
You should not leave the airport without filing a claim if the airlines damaged your luggage. However, in the case that you find the damage after you leave the airport, call the airline’s customer service number.
The customer service representative will inform you about the claim process. You will need to fill out the PIR form online, and the representative will email you the details, including the claim number.
However, you will need to bring the damaged luggage to the in-airport baggage service office for inspection. If you’re in a different country, you can mail the damaged luggage.
Remember Notification Deadlines
If you traveled on a domestic flight with American Airlines, file the claim within 24 hours of your flight. For international flights, you have seven days to file the claim. Delta Airlines and United Airlines offer the same timeline.
Southwest Airlines allows travelers to file a claim within four hours. Frontier offers the same timeline.
If you traveled on a domestic flight with Qantas, you must file the claim within three days of your flight. If you traveled on an international flight, file the claim within seven days of your flight.
If your bag was damaged on a domestic flight, you must go to the local airport office to have an inspection. Furthermore, for international travel, you can mail the damaged luggage.
Don’t Discard the Luggage Until the Claim is Settled
The airlines can ask you to mail the damaged luggage to an inspection center. If you cannot send the luggage, or if you send it without luggage tags, the airline will reject your claim.
After inspection, the airline can choose to repair the damaged luggage, or you can receive a replacement.
If the airline approves your claim, they can reimburse any shipping charges you paid when sending them the baggage.
File a Travel Insurance Claim
Airlines decide whether they repair your damaged luggage. They choose whether to replace the luggage or reject your claim.
Smart travelers like you buy travel insurance from Insubuy prior to a trip. Here, you’ll find insurance plans from major insurance service providers. Find out the best plans by filtering them as per your needs. Compare the plans and buy online. Keep the e-policy document on your online account and you’re all set.
When you file your claim, submit these images:
- A photograph showing each item laid out on the floor before packing them on your luggage.
- A photograph showing your items packed in the luggage bag.
This assists in the speedy processing of the claim.
Credit Cards with Baggage Benefits
Chase credit cards, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, offer up to $3,000 coverage for each person. The baggage insurance benefit covers the cardholder and their immediate family. Immediate family includes your spouse, children, siblings, and domestic partner.
The Amex Platinum card and Amex Business Platinum card cover up to $2,000 for each person. The benefit covers the cardholder, their spouse, and domestic partners. Furthermore, the benefit covers dependent children under 23 years of age as well.
Note: These details are correct at the time of writing (July 2021). Check the credit card issuer’s website for further details.
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Check Airline Liability Limitations
Is an airline responsible for damaged luggage? Yes.
The U.S. Department of Transportation confirms airlines are liable up to $1,780 for luggage that was damaged on international flights. You can receive up to $3,500 for damaged luggage on domestic flights.
However, airlines will not compensate for every damage. An overstuffed bag? Forget the compensation. A broken zipper? Same fate. You won’t receive any compensation for poor-quality bags, and if your luggage was already damaged when checked in, the airline will reject your claim.
Airlines never pay compensation for dirt and grime stains as well. You won’t receive compensation for cuts and scruffs because of wear and tear.
When will airlines approve your claim? If your luggage components, including handles, wheels, and straps, are damaged, or if your luggage has holes or a crack on a hard-sided bag, you can file a claim for compensation.
Every airline lists excluded items from the damaged luggage claim on its website under contracts of carriage. Check the airline’s website for further details.
Keep Your Cool
Damaged luggage is never a pretty sight. However, yelling at the baggage claim representative won’t speed up your claim process. Ask the representative to guide you through the next steps. A smile on your face will make the representative more willing to help you.
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