'Time is not on your side' What happens if an airline loses my luggage? Your legal rights

Around the world, airports and airlines are struggling to meet a sudden surge in passenger demand since coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. While cancellations and delays have dominated headlines, the chaos has also stretched to luggage.

In April, a report by the US Department of Transportation found that almost six bags per 1,000 pieces of checked luggage were at least temporarily lost by US airlines.

In July, Spanish insurer Mapfre SA reported the number of claims for lost luggage had jumped 30 percent compared with the summer of 2019.

The problem has also plighted airports in the UK. Earlier this month, a malfunction in Heathrow’s baggage handling system resulted in huge pile-ups of luggage at the airport, causing major delays for passengers.

To try and curb issues, airlines such as easyJet and British Airways have even suggested travellers check in their luggage the night before.

Yet as many Britons jetting off on holiday in the next few weeks, concerns over lost luggage may be mounting.

READ MORE: Plane passenger refused to give up seat for mum sat away from toddler

What are your legal rights if an airline loses your luggage?

Cody Candee, CEO and founder of Bounce told Express.co.uk: “The good news is that the airline is liable for the loss of your luggage, however, there is no set amount of what you are entitled to receive.

“The amount will depend on the value of what you have lost and the airline’s maximum payout.

“The most important thing to note though is that as a passenger you have the legal right to claim compensation for lost luggage.”

However, Citizens Advice noted: “You only have the right to claim for a problem with cabin baggage if it’s the airline’s fault.”

Passengers are urged contact their airline as soon as possible to get the best chance of receiving support and compensation.

You should report the issue to your airline straight away and make sure to check any deadlines in place.

Mr Candee said: “Time is not on your side. You need to act quickly.

“Report your lost luggage immediately to your airline and try to do this before you leave the airport.

“Be sure to leave contact details with the airline in case your luggage is found so that it can be returned to you in good time.”

Some airlines specify passengers only have up to seven days after their flight to make a claim.

Most airlines also have specific deadlines they abide by, allowing them enough time to find and return your bags.

Do I need travel insurance to claim for lost luggage?

Mr Candee said: “With reference to travel insurance, this is not something you necessarily need to cover lost luggage.

“However, travel insurance can provide an alternative route to making a claim, as opposed to going directly through your airline.

“By taking out travel insurance you increase your opportunities to make a claim, and this can help to minimise anxieties. Just be mindful of your insurance excess if this is the route you choose to take.”

If you do end up losing possessions your airline will not cover, Citizens Advice says travel or home contents insurance could be a better option.

They said: “If you have travel insurance or home contents insurance that covers luggage, you’re likely to be better off making an insurance claim instead.

“You’ll probably get more money and find it easier to claim this way.”

If you do choose to go through your travel insurance, be sure to submit your claim as soon as possible.

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