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Lost luggage

You're entitled to lost luggage compensation from the airline and travel insurance can cover you too.

Lost luggage is a huge inconvenience to any trip but there are a few steps you can take to make the process less frustrating – some of which the airlines don't always tell you about.

What do I do if an airline loses my luggage?

Number 1

Lodge a Property Irregularity Report (PIR)

If your luggage hasn't appeared on the luggage carousel, head to the baggage claim office and lodge a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) with the airline carrier from your final flight (for example, even if you flown with multiple airlines and suspect it may have been lost earlier).

Number 2

Provide a description of your luggage

This should include what your bag looks like (colour, brand and any identifying marks), your airline and flight information (including any connecting flights) and details about where you're staying and for how long.

Number 3

Keep hold of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) reference number

This is a unique code that helps them trace your delayed or damaged baggage. It's typically above your name on the PIR receipt. You can use this number to check the status of your baggage.

Number 4

Ask for compensation

Because you may be entitled to a cash payment to cover essentials such as toiletries, transport and accommodation. Airlines don't typically publicise whether they offer compensation or not, so be sure to ask when you lodge the report.

Make a report even if the airline tells you your luggage is on the next flight. This way you'll have written proof in case something else goes wrong.

Am I entitled to compensation for lost luggage?

Lost checked baggage is treated as delayed by the airline for the first 21 days. In that time, it is the airline's responsibility to locate it and deliver it to you. If the airline can't locate it in that time, you'll receive compensation for your loss.


Domestic travel

You could be compensated up to a maximum of $3,000 for checked baggage and $300 for unchecked baggage (according to the Australian Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act).


International travel

Airlines are governed by two international treaties: the Warsaw Convention of 1929 and the Montreal Convention of 1999. The amount you are entitled to will depend on the airline. Where the Montreal Convention applies, airlines are liable for up to approximately $1,735 (e.g. 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger, a form of international money created by the International Monetary Fund). That's the total amount you could receive for both checked and carry-on baggage. Under the Warsaw Convention for international travel, airlines are liable for up to approximately $600 for your carry-on baggage and around the equivalent of $30 for each kilo of your checked baggage.

Finder survey: What concerns Australians most about travelling?

Losing luggage/belongings50.85%41.43%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1112 Australians, December 2023

Does travel insurance cover lost luggage?

Yes. Airlines tend to only cover what is legally expected of them which often isn't enough to fully cover you. If there's a shortfall between what the airline pays you and your belonging's worth, you can lodge a travel insurance claim for the difference.

If you're travelling with expensive items like a laptop, jewellery or camera, you need to make sure your coverage limits are high enough to fully reimburse you if they're lost with your luggage. Alternatively, you can take out individual cover for each item.

Travel insurance can also cover luggage delays. If your bags don't turn up within 12 hours of your arrival, you can typically make a claim for delayed luggage. This helps cover the cost of essentials that you had to buy including clothes and toiletries.

travel luggage
Travel mishaps are common
Almost 1 in 3 Australians, equivalent to 3.5 million people, suffered a travel mishap while abroad in the past 12 months, according to a July 2023 Finder survey. The research shows 14% endured travel delays, while 8% lost personal items. Travel insurance can reimburse you for this and more.
Angus Kidman

Meet our travel expert Angus Kidman

Angus Kidman is the international editor-at-large at Finder. He's an award-winning journalist, avid travel enthusiast and passionate frequent flyer. Angus appears regularly on Sunrise, Today, The Project, Seven News and other TV and radio shows to share his expert tips.

Angus's top lost luggage tips

  • Photograph your luggage before checking it in. Lost luggage forms always ask for a description.
  • Match coverage limits for lost luggage to your kind of trip to save money. A weekend on the Gold Coast doesn't need the same level of cover as a round-the-world extravaganza.
  • Keep valuables in carry-on - and remember, that includes your house keys. (Been there, got that wrong!)

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