If An Airline Loses Your Luggage, Get Compensation

The U.S. Department of Transportation says that despite what the airline tells you, there are certain regulations it must follow when it loses a passenger’s luggage. Here are the things to remember if you’re in this unfortunate situation.

    in your favor

  • The airline can’t limit compensation to outbound flights only.
  • You don’t have to wait 24 hours before buying replacement clothing. If an airline uses that excuse to deny a claim, it’s in violation of DOT regulations.
    working against you

  • The airline doesn’t have to reimburse baggage fees.
  • The DOT doesn’t regulate the amount of compensation, so airlines will probably ask for proof of the value of your lost items and will argue down on the amount.

If you suspect a violation, you can file a complaint with the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Office. But you should prepare yourself for a fight from the airline, which will intentionally make it as hard as possible to get compensated, as you can see by the personal experience of the AP article’s author:

On a recent flight from Los Angeles to New York City, my carry-on bag was checked at the gate last-minute and was then left at the connecting airport, Philadelphia.

By the time my luggage was delivered to me two nights later, I had bought a shirt to wear to work. I submitted a receipt but my carrier refused to compensate me for two reasons. One, I was an inbound flight passenger, and the airline said in a letter that passengers on the home leg of a round trip presumably have clothes at home; and two, my receipt for the shirt was time-stamped several hours after the airline logged in the delivery of my bags. I was not home to receive the bag on that first delivery attempt, however, so I am challenging the denial of the claim.

“How to Deal With Lost Luggage” [Fox News]

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