Luggage on the airplane

You have just landed at your travel destination, and your checked-in luggage fails to arrive on the conveyor. Or your case is damaged. What should you do? You will find all the answers to your questions about the loss, damage or delay of you checked-in luggage below:

Luggage problems: what are your rights?

The transportation of luggage by aircraft in Europe is regulated by the Montreal Convention, which was transposed into European law by Regulation 889/2002.

You are therefore entitled to compensation of up to 1,288 special drawing rights or approximately € 1,600 per passenger if your checked-in luggage is damaged, delayed or lost.

This is the maximum amount. This means that you should negotiate with the airline(s) until you receive an amount with which you are satisfied. This is not always easy. For example, some airlines may demand receipts for the items in your checked-in luggage. 

Good to know: Did your trip consist of one or more stopovers operated by different airlines, and, upon arrival, you find that there is a problem with your checked-in luggage? Then you can approach one of the airlines involved in your flight. 

What to do if its value is higher than the compensation?

Is the value of your checked-in luggage above 1,288 special drawing rights (+/- € 1,600)? This should best be reported at the check-in – before you depart on your journey. You can then take out an insurance with the airline, and, in case of loss, damage or delay, you will receive compensation on the basis of this value.

Please note: airlines often have a list of items for which they take no responsibility (e.g. electronics, jewellery, etc.) . Are you checking something in that features on this list? In the case of loss, damage or delay, you will not be entitled to compensation for these items. You should therefore go through their list for checked-in luggage carefully – you will find it in the transport conditions.

What steps should you take?

Did you leave the plane without (or with damaged) luggage? Then take the following steps:

  1. Immediately report the damage, loss or delay at the airport. You will be given a PIR document (Property Irregularity Report), and an investigation will be started. 
  2. Please contact your airline, and ask them to keep you informed of this investigation. 
  3. Keep all the receipts of the basic items you have had to purchase.
  4. Apply for your compensation by registered letter or fax with confirmation of receipt to the airline. 

What deadline do you have for your complaint?

How quickly should you report your problem with checked-in luggage? That depends on your situation:

  • Is your checked-in luggage damaged? Send your letter within 7 days after you have received your case or cases.
  • Was your checked-in luggage delayed? In this case, you have 21 days for sending your letter, starting from the date your luggage was returned. 
  • Was your checked-in luggage lost, or was it delayed by more than 21 days? Then send your letter as soon as possible.

Please stick to these deadlines, because, if you don’t, the airline may try to use this against you, in order to avoid paying compensation.

Please note: The PIR document (the document you receive in the airport) is not sufficient. You should always also write a letter to the airline.

What about hand luggage?

All the above rules relating to checked-in luggage do not apply to hand luggage. Hand luggage falls completely under your own responsibility.

Check for guidelines (such as the dimensions and the weight of your luggage) in the transport conditions of your airline.

Also remember that there are certain restrictions on your hand luggage, especially with regard to liquids. You may, for example, take up to a total of 1 litre with you on board – distributed over tubes, jars or small bottles of up to 100 ml. All these ‘receptacles’ should be put together in one resealable plastic bag.