Airline lost your luggage? What to do and when to claim.

21 January 2020

Although lost luggage is a rare occurrence – less than 0.05 percent of checked bags are actually lost – when it happens to you, it is inconvenient to say the least.

Follow these tips and limit the chances of your checked luggage going taking off. Plus know when to claim from your airline and when to claim from travel insurance.

Keep valuables in carry-on

As most experienced travellers know, one of the first rules of efficient travel is to put valuable and important items, such as your devices, camera, passport, tickets and prescription medication in your carry-on bag. It’s also a good idea to include a change of clothes, so you are prepared in the event of a lost bag or minor delay.

A tag for every bag

These days, all checked bags are required to have a luggage label; make sure the address on yours is legible and up to date and is your name and address rather than that of the bag’s previous owner. Some suitcases have a pocket sewn into the outside, with a transparent cover, use this for your name and address as it is more secure than an attached tag.

It is also a good idea to put your name and address as well as a copy of your flight itinerary inside your luggage, in case the outside label comes off. If your suitcase is older and beginning to look its age, make sure any zippers, straps and pockets are secure for your journey. Colourful or distinctive straps around your luggage make it easier to spot on the baggage carousel.

Make time to connect

Not surprisingly, most luggage is delayed or lost when you have to make a connection somewhere – especially one that is short on time. Request extra time for your connection if you feel it necessary – a 40 minute connection time at a big airport is asking for trouble, even though the airline assures you it is enough time.

Take a nonstop flight if you possibly can, or if you have to change planes, try to catch a flight earlier in the day so you have back up flight options for both you and your bags. An early morning flight is statistically less likely to be delayed or cancelled, as delays tend to build up throughout the day.

The early bird catches the bag

Be sure to check in for your flight on time to minimise the risk of your bag being mishandled. Check in times vary according to your destination, the airline you are traveling on and even the airport you are flying out of; and you should always check with your airline or travel agent for the current guidelines.

Try to make sure your bag is actually checked through to the correct destination – that often mysterious three letter airport code that appears on the luggage tag attached to your bag is all important. For example, if you are flying to Salt Lake City (SLC) and the agent tags your bag to SCL – it will end up in Santiago, Chile!

Be right back

It may comfort you a little bit to learn that most luggage is not actually lost – just delayed. If you are flying somewhere where there are flights every hour or so, your delayed bag may well be on the next flight. If so, you generally have the option of having it delivered to you – although this can take several hours, as the delivery company employed by the airline is responsible for delivering delayed bags for several different airlines. You can also go in to the airport in person to pick up your bag, in which case you should make sure that you have a photo ID.

Claim from your airline

If your luggage does not reach your destination  within a certain time or is lost completely, you should be entitled to compensation directly from your airline. However it depends on the extent of the delay. Most airlines will start to compensate you after 24 hours. They may only compensate you for essentials such as an immediate change of clothes. It also depends on whether you are at home or somewhere else – if you are at home without your luggage, the airline’s view is that you don’t need as much compensation.

You do have a legal right to claim compensation from the airline if your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged, so start there.

Deadlines for claiming?
Most airlines follow these deadlines, but it’s a good idea to check with the airline.

If your luggage is delayed or missing, the airline has 21 days to find it and get it to you. If you get your luggage back within 21 days, you can still claim compensation for delayed luggage. If you don’t, claim for lost luggage.

What you’re claiming for Deadline for claiming
Damaged luggage 7 days after getting your luggage
Missing or damaged contents 7 days after getting your luggage
Delayed or missing luggage 21 days after the flight
Lost luggage – it’s officially lost after 21 days As soon as possible after it’s officially lost

Claim from travel insurance

If your airline loses your property and is limited in compensating you, you can turn to your travel insurance to claim for the items lost as well as for some of the costs of replacing essentials while you were in transit.

To claim, you’ll need an official report from your airline detailing how and when your bags were lost or damaged, and what your airline intends to do about it.

Should there be a gap in how they take care of you, travel insurance is there to help you cover your losses. For lost baggage & personal items, including glasses and sunglasses, Travel with Kit offers cover of up to $2,000 on our Basic plan, and up to $10,000 on Comprehensive.

Looking at comprehensive cover for permanently lost luggage, the maximum amount we will pay for any one item is:


  • $3,000 for personal computers, video recorders or cameras
  • $1,000 for mobile phones (including PDA’s and any items with phone capabilities)
  • $750 for all other luggage and personal effects.

Lost luggage claims due to airline negligence could also include:


  • Replacement costs of dentures or dental prostheses
  • The cost of buying essential clothing and toiletries due to delays to your luggage for more than 12 hours. This does not apply to the final leg of your trip. If the delay is more than 72 hours, you must have receipts and written confirmation supporting your claim, which need to include the length of the delay, from the appropriate authority. Note that excess does not apply to this benefit.
  • A payout of up to $500 if you suffer financially because your travel documents, travellers’ cheques, passport or credit card has been stolen, lost, or used fraudulently
  • A payout of up to $500 to cover additional costs while having your passport or travel documents replaced following the accidental damage, theft, or permanent loss of your passport in transit. Note that excess does not apply to this benefit.

Understand your cover

Conditions and exclusions apply to every cover level and optional pack. View our Combined Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide for full details. Sub-limits apply. Not sure? Our friendly team are here to help. Get in touch