Lost or delayed baggage: your rights and compensations

To the point Here are your rights when dealing with lost luggage, damaged or delayed by the airline.

In an ideal situation, it’s best to travel with carry-on baggage only. However if this is not possible, it is important to know your rights when faced with a lost baggage, damaged or a delayed one.

Tips and tricks to avoid the situation of lost luggage

Of course, if you travel with only a carry-on luggage, you will (almost) never run into a lost bag. Indeed, it is rare that a carry-on bag goes astray when you have to “volunteer” to check it at the gate. Usually, in this context, the carry-on luggage goes down the stairs of the boarding gate and is immediately put in the aircraft hold.

Then, for those situations where you need to travel and check in a piece of luggage, here are some tips to maximize your chances of finding it.

Limit the number of checked bags

When traveling in a group, you should try to reduce the number of checked bags; are you able to combine all your belongings into one luggage and maximize the number of carry-on bags?

It is true that it is less cumbersome to check in our luggage and it is very tempting since we can do it for free ,or almost, with the many advantages and credits available on credit cards.

In fact, a card like the National Bank World Elite Mastercard® offers an annual travel credit to cover the cost of checked baggage.

However, since this credit can also be used for upgrades, seat selections or airport lounges, it may be more economical to always have the least amount of checked baggage.

The smaller the number of checked bags, the less chances of having a lost bag!

Prepare your luggage in advance and check the tags

To avoid having a lost bag or delayed bag, be sure to remove baggage tags from previous flights. A scanning error can happen very quickly.

Next, keep an eye on the sticker affixed to your luggage:

  • Is the information correct?
  • Is this your flight number and connecting airports?

With the rush at the airport, an employee could accidentally pick up the wrong tag.

Keep your luggage tag! In case of a lost luggage, this tag is the proof that you have checked in a luggage with the airline.

Then, identify your luggage with :

  • name
  • address
  • phone
  • email
  • route
  • information about the hotel to the destination

Check in at the right time

A luggage that is dropped off at check-in too early will most likely be put aside in a holding area. Indeed, with the shortage of staff, we must avoid giving them “non-priority” tasks.

On the other hand, you should not leave your luggage too late either as there is a good chance that it will not be transported in time and the planes will not wait for your luggage. They absolutely want to take off so as not to accumulate delays.

As a general rule, checking-in your baggage 2-3 hours before your flight is reasonable.


Use electronic locators to search for baggage

The one time I have to check my baggage, I used an electronic locator to avoid having a lost bag.

I had chosen Tile in the past, but with the advances in technology, Apple’s AirTags seem to be very effective in tracking lost luggage. Indeed, their scope is very broad.

These locators are very useful to find your suitcase among hundreds!


Laws that regulate the situation of a lost luggage

Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR)

When you are faced with a lost, damaged or delayed baggage situation, you can file a claim under the RPPA Bill of Rights. The RPPA regulates all flights to and from Canada; domestic flights are also subject to the RPPA.

To be eligible for compensation for a damaged or delayed baggage, you must notify the airline in writing no later than 7 days after arrival at your destination.

A baggage is considered lost when the carrier is unable to locate it within 21 days of the flight. Likewise, you must file your claim within this time frame.

Under the RPPA, you can claim up to $2,300 in compensation for lost, damaged or delayed baggage and checked baggage fees, if applicable.

Lost luggage under the jurisdiction of the EU261

European laws are different from Canadian laws as they are much more generous with respect to compensation for flight delays and cancellations.

All incoming flights of EU carriers as well as outgoing flights (all airlines) from the EU are subject to EU261.

The coverage for a lost luggage, damaged or delayed is less advantageous than the RPPA. Indeed, the maximum amount that can be claimed is €1,300 or $1,700.

The Montreal Convention

The Montreal Convention is a treaty signed by 132 countries and the European Union; this convention aims to standardize the rules for the transportation of passengers, baggages and cargo.

On most international flights, you are also subject to the Montreal Convention when claiming a lost baggage. In order to be subject to the rules of the Montreal Convention, both countries of your departure and arrival must have signed the treaty.

That’s right, it has to be an international flight between two eligible countries to benefit from these rules. However, the RPPA is, in a way, an extension of the Montreal Convention. Therefore, you are also protected against a lost baggage on domestic flights in Canada with the RPPA.

What you can claim for a lost or delayed baggage

When you arrive at your destination without your personal belongings, you can claim the cost of replacing the items that were in your luggage.

There is no list of items that are allowed or not, you just have to be reasonable about what you are asking for (toiletries, clothes, shoes, skis, bathing suit, sunscreen, etc.).

For a lost luggage when you go to the Maldives, claiming skis would be difficult to justify.

Be sure to keep all receipts to support your claim for a lost baggage or a delayed one.

According to the Montreal Convention, you are entitled to a maximum of approximately $2,300 to replace what you need or items from a lost baggage.

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What to do when you have a lost or delayed baggage

The first thing to do when your bag is not on the carousel after baggage claim is completed is to fill out a report at the carrier’s baggage claim counter.

This counter is usually located near the carousels. Once you’ve filled out your form for a lost baggage or delayed one, you can start buying what you need while you wait to hear from the airline.

bagage perdu
bagage perdu

Then, you must file a written claim for compensation within the 7-day window for a delayed baggage and the 21-day window for a lost baggage. Without this claim, the company is only bound by its obligation to transport your baggage without compensating you for your out-of-pocket expenses.

Here is an interesting website concerning all the detailed steps to follow for a lost baggage, a damaged one or delayed one : Air Passenger Rights

Technically, you should receive a call from the carrier when the delayed baggage is located or if it is reported lost. Then, if your suitcase is found, the latter is responsible for getting it to you.

Credit card luggage delay insurance

The previous section discusses the airline’s obligations to you when there is a lost bag.

However, you can also turn to your travel insurance or credit card insurance to defray the costs you face when your luggage goes missing.

Some cards, like the National Bank World Elite Mastercard®, offer excellent travel insurance. With the latter, coverage for a lost baggage or delayed over 6 hours, you are entitled to up to $500 in reimbursement.

To receive this coverage, you usually have to charge the entire cost of the airline ticket to your credit card and keep your receipts as proof. Also, they should be notified as soon as possible before making any charges to the card (ideally).

If the total cost of travel on a common carrier during a trip has been charged to the account and baggages checked with that carrier are delayed for 6 hours or more before the return date, the Insurer will reimburse the cost of essential items (such as clothing and toiletries) up to a maximum of $500 per person.

Conclusion - Claim and reimbursement for lost or damaged baggage

With the current situation, you should do everything you can to avoid any problems with lost luggage with a carry-on!

If this is not possible, make sure you know your rights and pay with the right credit card!

How do I know where my suitcase is?

Electronic locators are available, such as Tile or Apple’s AirTags, which seem to be very effective in tracing lost luggage. Indeed, their scope is very broad.

These locators are very useful to find your suitcase among hundreds!

In addition, Air Canada has a new baggage tracking function in its mobile application. For the moment, this is valid for domestic flights only, and tracking will be available for cross-border flights in 2024.

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I'm Aline, an experienced traveller, a foodie at heart, an Avgeek, a photography enthusiast and an expert on credit card programs. I use Reward Points to travel on a budget and to save money on everyday life; writing about these topics allows me to share my passion and help you. ~ 7 continents and 75 countries ~

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