Lost or Delayed Baggage Compensation, how does your airline treat you?

The issue of compensation for delayed baggage delivery or lost baggage is a hot issue for travelers and airlines.  Many travelers often feel, deservedly so, that they should be paid compensation for an airline's mistakes that range from the mishandling of baggage, pilferage, damaged luggage or even lost baggage. But the reality is always much harsher and getting compensation is a difficult process. Airlines will only compensate travelers for damaged or lost luggage but will not compensate you for the stress and inconvenience caused by the delayed delivery of the luggage.

When it comes to baggage compensation claims, airlines normally behave like insurance companies. They will put utmost efforts to reduce their liabilities, including heaping the blame on you for loss of your baggage.

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Baggage Claims for Delayed Luggage Delivery
Some airlines clearly state on their websites the amount of compensation that they will give to passengers in the event of delayed delivery of baggage. An example is Scandinavian airlines or Virgin Atlantic who clearly state on their website that they will provide compensation of  £50 or up to  £50 subject to the passenger providing evidence of expenditure as a result of the delayed baggage delivery.  £50 is a very small compensation especially if you're going for a business meeting and the delay necessitates that you purchase personal items afresh to cater for your needs during the duration that the baggage is lost. For most airlines, no compensation will be due to you as long as your baggage arrives in one piece, even a month later!
Lost baggage
 The Montreal Convention sets out airlines' liabilities for passengers and their baggage and applies to international travel only although some countries are now enacting laws to cater for baggage mishandling on domestic flights. According to Montreal Convention for Destroyed, Lost or Delayed Baggage, the passengers do have rights when these woes have been caused by the airline or as a result of the airline's inadequacies.

To make claims for damaged baggage,  ensure you report the claim for the damage within seven days of the receipt of the baggage. Many airlines have outlined procedures for filing these reports on their websites.
For delayed baggage claims, if the airline admits liability for the delay of the checked baggage and the baggage does not arrive within  21 days, then you are entitled to enforce your rights under the Montreal convention and demand compensation. Ensure that you file a complaint within 21 days from the date you received the baggage from the airline. There is however no liability for unchecked baggage, so the loss of your carry-on luggage is not covered under the Montreal convention.

For lost baggage, the various international treaties, Warsaw Convention, Hague Protocol, Montreal Protocol No 4 and IATA Inter-carrier Agreements do not specify any reporting time frame requirements thus giving airlines a window to enact rules that in many cases will limit their liabilities in case of lost luggage.


How much Compensation are you entitled to?
So how much are you entitled to? For claims of mishandled baggage, passengers are entitled to maximum of 1000 Special Drawing Rights which with the current exchange rates, amounts to a maximum of $643 irrespective of the contents of your baggage.

Normally, every case of a lost bag is evaluated individually and airlines will demand receipts for the contents of the baggage to back up your luggage claims which is normally not practical since we cannot have receipts for all the items that we travel with! In the absence of receipts, airlines will compensate you at their discretion(normally far below the actual value of lost items) or not compensate you at all. Compensation, if it happens, often does not reflect the value of items lost with your baggage. Airlines often ask for a list of items that were in the bag and original receipts as proof of their value like insurance companies would do during a claims settlement. Like insurance companies, their offer for compensation often does not match a claim in full because they have reduced payments on the grounds of depreciation of the value of the items in the bag.
The issue of baggage claims is  still a grey area in international law and airlines will continue to interpret international laws in their favour and passengers will continue going through agony caused by incompetence of negligence o the airlines.

To be on the safe side, take a few precautions top increase the chance of tracing your luggage or getting a compensation from your airline where your baggage is irretrievably lost. The following book provides tips on
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