What to do in case your luggage gets delayed?
If you’ve been waiting at the baggage carousel for over an hour, and there are still no signs of your personal belongings, you may have fallen victim to delayed baggage. Before the panic sets in and you cross this off as just another ruined holiday trip, remember that you’ve still got options.
By Nicholas Asencios Joly
Where should I start?
First of all, you’ll want to report this to the last airline you boarded on your way there. Fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) at your airline’s baggage service desk (usually located at the airport’s baggage hall) as soon as possible. This form should be handed out to you by an airline agent as soon as you report the missing property. On this form you’ll want to describe your luggage as best as possible, make sure to point out anything that might make it stand out.
After you’ve turned the form in, ask for a tracking I.D. and a copy of the report, the former will help you keep track of your case and the latter will be useful when filing a claim with your travel insurance company or with the airline itself. From that point onwards, the airline has 21 days to return the missing luggage, if during that period of time they don’t manage to do so, the luggage will be written off as permanently lost.
Why should I file a PIR?
Filling out a PIR is extremely vital since it’s the only way to give your case the sense of urgency it deserves. Although you’re still entitled to claim delayed baggage even without a PIR, when it comes to missing property, it’s always better to follow all the guidelines than to regret it afterwards.
Am I entitled to monetary compensation from the airline?
Although airlines should compensate you for any emergency purchases that were made as a result of missing baggage, some aren’t exactly obligated to do so depending on the terms and conditions set before buying the ticket. Also, what airlines may consider “emergency purchases” to be may vary from one company to the next. While some may be more lenient with the definition, others may be exceedingly strict about it, covering only toiletries, such as shampoo and toothpaste, and essential clothing, such as new pairs of underwear.
In what ways can I expect to be compensated for the delayed baggage?
Airlines have varying policies regarding the method of compensation:
• Some may pay you a sum of money up-front at the airport to cover your expenses.
• Others might pay you a set amount per day until you either recover the luggage or you reach the limit of days allowed by the policy.
• Other airlines might only reimburse your purchases after you’ve submitted a claim to the airline, along with a copy of the PIR and the receipts of your expenses. If this is the case, remember to always file a written claim to said airline within 21 days of recovering the missing luggage. Even then, the coverage is usually extremely limited.
• Finally, some airlines might try to repay the inconvenience in the form of travel discounts.
So, before leaving the airport, make sure to speak to airline representatives to get a clear view of the options available, and remember to always keep the receipts from your emergency purchases for later use in your claims.
Airline compensation doesn’t cover all of my emergency expenses; can I take this up with my travel insurance company?
This is where travel insurance comes into play. Travel insurance will try to pick up wherever airline coverage may falter. Usually insurance coverage is much higher than airline coverage due to how strict airline coverage actually is, meaning that the airline’s upper cap is very rarely ever met. However, this doesn’t mean that you should go overboard with your emergency expenses, remember that insurance companies also have their own payout limits and policies, but as long as the necessities bought are justified, they should be reimbursed.
Whether it’s solo travel or family travel, insurance companies cover the costs of necessities of all of the affected, setting a payout limit per person covered by the plan.
As a plus, most insurance companies cover the emergency expenses generated after a 12 hour delay of the luggage, as opposed to the 24 hour delays from airline coverage. This means that you’ll be able to replace your necessities much quicker.
How can I receive compensation from my travel insurance?
To apply for this benefit you’ll have to file a claim to your insurance company. Remember to always carry your insurance’s emergency contact information, as well as your insurance policy number. With these at hand, you’ll be able to let them know of the situation as soon as possible so they can forward the necessary documentation for you to submit your claim.
What documents are required to make a claim?
Along with the claim form itself and flight details, in order to back up your claim always remember to submit:
• The Property Irregularity Report issued by the airline when you first reported the event.
• The receipts that you want reimbursed.
Some insurance companies may also require additional documentation based on their own policies.
So, whether you’re travelling abroad on your own for pleasure, with your family on a holiday trip or for your company on a business trip, always keep in mind that travel insurance can save you from the hidden costs and headaches of unexpected delays. No matter what type of traveler you are, nor how often you plan on travelling, there are always insurance plans to cover you for baggage delays, be they single trip insurance plans designed to protect you against this occurrence during a single trip, or multi-trip insurance plans, designed to cover the needs of regular travelers.