Reader Ken is sitting on a plane right now watching his bags get soaked. He’s wondering if he’ll be able to get compensation for the water damage.
It is pouring. Our bags have been sitting outside in the rain for 15 minutes. The crew said that the luggage handlers went back inside to suit up for the rain. Oh, that and our flight is delayed over an hour already.
If my stuff is damaged due to rain, can we get compensation?
The answer, it seems, is “maybe.” The Department of Transportation says that the airline might refuse to compensate you if there’s no evidence of external damage.
If your suitcase arrives smashed or torn, the airline will usually pay for repairs. If it can’t be fixed, they will negotiate a settlement to pay you its depreciated value. The same holds true for belongings packed inside. Airlines may decline to pay for damage caused by the fragile nature of the broken item or inadequate packing, rather than the airline’s rough handling. Air carriers might also refuse to compensate you for damaged items inside the bag when there’s no evidence of external damage to the suitcase. When you check in, airline personnel may let you know if they think your suitcase or package may not survive the trip intact. Before accepting a questionable item, they may ask you to sign a statement in which you agree to check it at your own risk. But even if you do sign this form, the airline might be liable for damage if it is caused by its own negligence shown by external injury to the suitcase or package.
Thankfully, you have documented the fact that your luggage is sitting out in the rain. That should help you make your case if something has been damaged. Be sure to immediately inspect the contents of your luggage and make a report if you find anything.
If the airline gives you any trouble, report them to the Department of Transportation.