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What to do if your baggage is lost or delayed


Don't panic. There are ways to get your baggage back – or be compensated for your loss.

Travelling right now is quite chaotic.

Flights are being cancelled due to staff shortages and complaints about lost luggage are on the rise.

It's a stressful situation, particularly if you're just starting your journey.

So what can you do if your bags don't make it on the plane with you?

File a report ASAP

If your bags aren't anywhere to be found when the carousel stops, promptly make your way to the baggage services counter for your airline.

This is typically located in the same area as baggage collection.

Here you'll be asked to file a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). This includes:

  • Details on what your luggage looks like – include any and all identifying markers
  • Your flight information – such as your origin airport, flight number and baggage tag numbers
  • Contact details – including where you're staying over the next few days

If time is tight, you can fill in your report online through your airline's baggage services portal.

Whatever the case, it's important to lodge your PIR as soon as you can so the hunt for your bags can begin. You'll also need a copy of this report if you wish to make a claim through your travel insurance.

After completing your PIR, you'll be given a reference number. This can be used to check up on the status of your delayed luggage.

If your luggage is found, the airline will contact you to arrange the delivery of your bags at its expense.

Something that may come as a relief is that, according to Qantas, most delayed bags are located and delivered within 48 hours.

We are seeing things improve. Our mishandled bag rate is back to less than 1 in 100. It's close to what it was pre-pandemic.”

Ask for compensation

You've lodged your report, which is great, but you're still stuck on holiday with no luggage. What next?

Ask the airline for an emergency pack or compensation to cover necessary expenses.

Emergency packs can come with the essentials such as toiletries and pyjamas.

If the airline can't provide this, it may offer to reimburse you for the cost of purchasing necessities such as toiletries, underwear, socks and spare clothes, until you are reunited with your belongings.

If it doesn't compensate you, or compensates you for less than the value of your items, travel insurance can help.

What happens if my baggage is lost for good?

Unfortunately, not all lost baggage is found. If the airline hasn't located your bag after 21 days, its status will change from "delayed" to "lost".

If this happens, the airline should compensate you for your loss.

The amount differs depending on whether you're travelling domestically or internationally:

  • Domestic travel: Up to $1,600 per passenger for checked luggage and $160 per passenger for carry-on. This is under the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959.
  • International travel: Up to $1,735 per person for checked and carry-on luggage (under the Montreal Convention of 1929) or $30 for every kilo of checked luggage or $600 for carry-on luggage. (These are approximate amounts only).

Travel insurance for lost and delayed baggage

Travel insurance can reimburse you for clothing and other necessary personal items – for example, toothbrushes – if your luggage gets delayed or lost.

In many cases, it needs to have been missing for at least 12 hours before you can start claiming and most will have a limit on how much you can claim – often up to around $1,500.

You will also need to get written confirmation from the airline that it has been lost or delayed.

Make sure you keep a hold of receipts so the insurer can fully reimburse you.

How to reduce the stress of lost luggage

  • Consider an airtag or tile tracker: While it won't stop your luggage getting lost, an airtag or tile tracker can help you locate your luggage faster if it goes astray. This can also give you piece of mind that it's safe and on its way back to you.
  • Pack your valuables in your carry-on: Prioritise your electronics and valuables for your carry-on. They're generally not covered by travel insurance if lost unless the airline specifically tells you that you have to check them in at the last minute.
  • Pack a spare outfit in your carry-on. This includes underwear and socks. That way you'll at least have something to wear while you wait for your delayed luggage to be returned to you.
  • Get travel insurance: Whether your luggage is delayed or well and truly lost, travel insurance can cover the costs of your luggage contents.
  • Make your bag distinguishable. To help baggage services find your luggage faster, make it stand out with stickers, ribbons or even a personalised suitcase cover.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    AhmedMay 31, 2023

    We, three passengers, travelled on Scoot airways in November 2022 with four baggages (22-27kg range/ baggage). 3 of which were returned after 2 days and 1 remained missing. The airline offered me an amount of 447 Singapore dollars in total for 3 delayed and 1 lost suitcase. I have lost many receipts of my lost items. What should I do? Should I accept their amount or should I hire some legal services? Is that justifiable?

      SarahJune 1, 2023Finder

      Hi Ahmed,

      We’re not licenced to provide personal advice, so we can’t help you make this decision.

      However according to the guidelines in this article, you may be entitled to ask for more:
      Domestic travel: Up to $1,600 per passenger for checked luggage and $160 per passenger for carry-on. This is under the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959.
      International travel: Up to $1,735 per person for checked and carry-on luggage (under the Montreal Convention of 1929) or $30 for every kilo of checked luggage or $600 for carry-on luggage. (These are approximate amounts only).

      Hope this helps!

    Default Gravatar
    GregoryMay 22, 2023

    Hi i have been getting the run around between Qantas and Airfrance about my bag Qantas is saying i need a specific Qantas baggage receipt if i want them to get my baggage sent back to me Sita online has said that my bag is in Paris with a bag reference neither airline is willing to help me with them both telling me to ring the other for help how do i deal with this situation im keen to even pay for a private 3rd entity to go collect my bag and post it at this point its getting ridiculous please help me if you guys can thanks.

      StephanieMay 22, 2023Finder

      Hi Gregory,

      Sorry to hear about your situation.

      After you bag has gone missing you’ll need to file a Property Irregularity Report. While you don’t need your bag receipt for this it is helpful for the airline to locate your missing bag. The bag receipt will have been given to you after checking your luggage in. Airline staff typically stick it onto your passport or plane ticket for safe keeping.
      You can file this report through the airline’s baggage service portal. For Qantas, you’ll find that here:

      If you have travel insurance you may be able to claim the cost of your missing or delayed luggage. Please contact your insurer to see what your options are.

      Best of luck,

    Default Gravatar
    JoshuaApril 5, 2023

    I recently traveled from South Africa to Melbourne via Perth with no travel insurance (if only I had known). Qantas lost my bag (it’s been > 21 days now) and they offered A$300 but my bag and contents were worth much more than that. What options do I have or am I stuck with the A$300? Also are there places one could go to look where they store bags they cannot identify who it belongs to? I really would prefer to get my bag back if at all possible.

      SarahApril 6, 2023Finder

      Hi Joshua,

      According to legal firm Maurice Blackburn, you may be entitled to more if the bag was checked.

      If you travelled domestically, you may be entitled to compensation under an Australian law called the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act. You could be compensated up to a maximum of $3,000 for checked baggage and $300 for unchecked baggage.

      If your bag was checked, it would be worth following up with Qantas and asking what your options are.

      Hope this helps!

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