The luggage tracking is worth it

Advice: What to do if your luggage is delayed or lost?

You stand at the baggage carousel, it's empty and all of your fellow travelers have long been heading for a taxi, bus or train and you think: Sh ** where is my suitcase !?

So first of all a few words of reassurance: The airline is liable! It is also rather rare that a suitcase does not appear again. In around 95% of all cases, the suitcase is delivered to your hotel or home a few hours or a few days later. And before you turn your underpants inside out, it should be said that the airline also has to pay for replacement purchases.

But what exactly has to be done now and what rights do you have as a passenger?

1. Report loss

If the baggage carousel stops or no more suitcases arrive, you should start looking for baggage tracing.

This is usually located near the luggage straps. Either the airline is represented with its own office or you have to contact the handling agent (the company that handles baggage handling for the airline). Most of the time, the airline's logo indicates responsibility. Under no circumstances should you leave the security area before reporting the loss. From a purely legal point of view, the loss can be reported up to 21 days later. As a passenger, however, you may have to prove that you did not lose your suitcase when you left the airport, for example.

The most important piece of evidence when reporting a loss is the sticker on the boarding pass with the baggage registration number. So you should also make sure to keep your boarding pass with you until you can receive your luggage.

An employee then takes a notice of damage in the form of aProperty Irregularity Report (PIR for short). You should definitely ask for a copy of it and keep it. Tip: Be sure to ask for a local phone number for baggage tracing on site. The airline's general baggage hotlines are usually not very helpful and feed you off with standard phrases.

Was that Baggage damaged and you want to claim damages, the PIR is not enough. As a precaution, a personally signed damage report should always be sent to the airline within 7 days of becoming aware of the damage.

With theFile Reference You can then call up your case on WorldTracer, e.g. here for Lufthansa flights, and receive updates about the whereabouts of the suitcase and, for example, enter / change a delivery address.

2. Replacement purchases

If you have now done the paperwork, it is already time to deal with the next problems. Normally you are now standing there without clothes or hygiene articles.

As already mentioned, the airline is usually liable for expenses that you incur due to lost or delayed luggage. However, the way in which this topic is dealt with differs considerably from one airline to another. And the travel class can also have an influence on how accommodating the airline is.

Some airlines give you a basic set of hygiene items when you submit the loss report. Some of these “overnight kits” even contain underwear. Especially for flights outside Europe, you often receive vouchers or, for example, a prepaid credit card loaded with a certain amount to stock up on the bare minimum. If this is not enough, you have to make replacement purchases at your own expense and later invoice the airline for them.

It can happen that when you inquire at the airport, an employee gives you a fixed amount that you can spend on delay for a certain period of time. However, these amounts are not infrequently pure fantasy figures. Fixed rates such as 15 € for 24 hours are usually not durable.

But if you get the idea of ​​buying a brand new suit or a Gucci bag if you are delayed or lost your suitcase, you should hold back. The term that you read over and over again is called "appropriateness". You should really limit the emergency purchases to the most necessary items in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Which of course doesn't mean that you can't buy a suit. For example, if you are on a business trip and you simply cannot show up in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt at your next customer appointment, then a suit is also "appropriate". And you don't have to limit yourself to H&M or Primark clothes either, branded items are allowed. Just don't overdo it.

Incidentally, if the airline only loses the suitcase on the return flight and you then only have to drive home from the airport, you will not receive any compensation for any purchases. It is assumed here that you have all absolutely necessary items available in your own four walls.

3. Reimbursement of costs

With the costs that you will be reimbursed, the legal situation is very clear - actually. Basically, the airline must reimburse you for the new purchase. Up to the equivalent of approx. € 1,340 = 1,131 special drawing rights (as of May 14, 2021).Source: Montreal Convention Article 22 Maximum liability amounts in the event of delay and for luggage and goods Paragraph 2

However, this refers to a situation in which your luggage can no longer be found. If the airline is still able to deliver the suitcases to you after all, you may be left with part of the costs already paid. With some airlines, not all purchases are paid in full. It is possible that 100% of newly purchased hygiene items, but only 50% of clothes, will be replaced.

However, there are no clear statements about their approach from the airlines. So if you have already had experience with delayed baggage and the handling of an airline with reimbursement of costs, we would be happy to receive a short report in the comments!

In any case, you should keep every invoice and receipt you received for your replacement purchases. Only with these will it be possible to get back your money, or at least part of it, afterwards.

Should it really come to the worst possible scenario and the airline can no longer find your luggage, you are entitled to compensation up to the full sum of 1,131 special education rights. Depending on the airline, a few days or weeks after the luggage is lost, you will be sent a form on which you can specify what exactly you packed in your suitcase. The airline will then check how much damage you have suffered and you should be compensated within 30 days.

It is important to know that the airline only has to reimburse the current value of your suitcase and its contents. Usually one reckons with approx. 20% depreciation per year. Example: A Rimowa suitcase that once cost € 500 could therefore only be worth € 200 after 3 years. In theory, even “after-effects” are eligible for compensation, for example loss of income because important presentation equipment was damaged in the suitcase.

In order to avoid unnecessary arguments with the airlines, take photos of the suitcase and contents before departure!

Legal basis: Montreal Convention

The Convention on the Unification of Certain Regulations for International Carriage by Air, or short Montreal Convention, has been regulating which compensation is due in the airline industry since 2004. In addition to the reimbursements for delayed or lost baggage, all other cases in which passengers could have claims against their contractual partners are also regulated there. If you are interested in the entire set of rules, you will find it on the website of the Federal Court of Justice.

Article 17 of the agreement is of particular interest on the subject of baggage loss. Among other things, the following can be read there:

The air carrier has to compensate the damage caused by the destruction, loss or damage of checked baggage, [...]

Article 17 of the Montreal Convention

This part of the agreement thus forms the legal basis for the compensation that you are entitled to in the event of lost luggage.

In the case of delayed baggage, Article 19, Delay:

The air carrier has to compensate for the damage caused by the delay in the air transport of travelers, luggage or goods.

Article 19, Montreal Convention Delay

Here, too, it is clearly regulated that you can assert claims if your suitcase is delayed.

It is important to know that this convention has been signed by most of the travel countries, including, for example, the EU, USA, China, Australia and Japan, and is therefore also valid there. There are, however, exceptions: Thailand, for example, has not ratified the convention. Incidentally, the agreement is binding for all European airlines, regardless of the route they are traveling on.

It is good that if checked baggage is damaged, the airline generally bears the burden of proof. In case of doubt, it must be able to prove to you that your luggage was damaged before it was dropped off at the baggage counter. There is also no such thing as “force majeure” - the airline is always liable, regardless of who exactly (e.g. airport, handling service provider) or why the baggage was damaged.

Loss of luggage on package tours

Basically, as a traveler on a package tour, you have exactly the same rights as a "normal" passenger on a flight. However, there are two differences:

  1. Your contract partner: If you have booked your trip through a tour operator, as is usually the case, they will be your first point of contact if your luggage is lost. The organizer will presumably get the sufficiency back from the airline afterwards, but you don't have to worry about it.
  2. Additional compensation: In addition to the expenses for replacement purchases or even the full rate for lost luggage, you as a traveler on a package tour may also be entitled to additional compensation. Up to 30% for every day on which your luggage is not available - because this reduces the value of the trip.Source: Consumer Advice Center NRW e.V.
    In any case, a written notification of defects should be sent to the tour operator as soon as it becomes clear that your luggage is not available to you. If you have difficulties claiming compensation from the organizer after returning from vacation, it is best to contact a consumer advice center or, if necessary, a lawyer.

frequently asked Questions

Does luggage insurance make sense?

The vague answer: It depends. As a rule, luggage insurance is superfluous. In any case, the airline is liable for lost luggage and most insurers also require that you notify the airline of your damage. However, only up to the maximum limit. If you are stowing really expensive items in your suitcase, it can be worth taking out additional insurance. First, however, you should check whether you already have insurance, for example with a credit card.

How does the luggage get to me if it is found?

Usually the luggage will be delivered to your accommodation or to your home. The airlines actually always try to limit the damage at least a little in this way. However, the airlines are not obliged to do so; it is a voluntary service. If the airline refuses to deliver your suitcase to the door, you are entitled to reimbursement of the travel costs that you incur when you return to the airport.

How long do I have to wait before baggage is definitely lost?

The airline usually has up to three weeks to find your luggage. After 21 days, the suitcase is then definitely lost. However, in practice it happens that the airlines assume earlier that your luggage will no longer show up. That's why some send the form after just a few days, on which you have to state the contents of the suitcase or bag.

Is there also a claim for damaged luggage?

Yes. However, the situation with damaged baggage is not quite as clear as with delayed or lost baggage. What damage was the case before? Was the bag really not full to bursting? These are all questions that are difficult to answer when the baggage is broken and the contents are scattered on the baggage carousel. The only conclusive evidence would probably be pictures of the suitcase that you take shortly before you give it up. And in general, the airline does not pay for minor damage such as scratches and dents anyway.

How can I avoid damage in advance?

Of course, it is best if your luggage is not lost in the first place. And as a traveler, you can actively influence the likelihood of this. In theory at least. So the chance of arriving at your destination on a direct flight without your luggage is almost zero. A trip in which you have to change trains three times and maybe even at the big hubs in the world, of course, lets the risk skyrocket.
If you can't choose whether you want to fly non-stop or not, you can at least minimize the damage while packing. Ideally, no irreplaceable items end up in the suitcase at all, only those that you can really buy new with the maximum amount of compensation in an emergency. And if you have space in your hand luggage, it certainly doesn't hurt to carry a few items of clothing, fresh underwear and hygiene items with you.


Whether it's the quickest route to frequent flyer status or an overnight stay in a top hotel - the topic of travel has been an exciting topic for me and has accompanied me since I was a child. And here at Travel Dealz I now have the opportunity to share my passion with others.

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