Lost or damaged luggage

What are your rights as a consumer if an airline, tour operator or ferry company loses your luggage, or you find damaged items in your baggage? Different rules apply to air travel and ferry travel:

Airlines and delayed luggage

Under law, checked-in baggage is considered “lost” if it has not arrived 21 days after the date it was due to arrive. Until then, some airlines claim you are not at a loss because your bag is only “delayed” and will eventually turn up.

In the case of baggage delay, the airline is responsible, unless it did as much as was possible to avoid the delay or it was impossible to do so. If they do offer compensation for a delay, some pay a set amount per day, and some may refund any essential costs you had to pay, as long as you provide receipts.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair are among the airlines that say they will arrange to have delayed baggage delivered to your local address.

How to complain to an airline

If your luggage does not turn up at the airport when you land:

  1. Report the problem immediately to the airline at the airport baggage hall. Keep your boarding card and baggage reference number. Most airlines will want you to complete a Property Irregularity Report before leaving the baggage hall. Filling it out proves you notified them of the problem at the time of discovery. Make sure to get a copy of the form
  2. Then you need to make a separate written claim to the airline. You can seek compensation of up to around €1,200 for delay, damage or loss. The exact figure changes with international currency fluctuations

If your luggage is returned to you, you must make your claim within 21 days of getting your luggage back. If your luggage doesn’t turn up within 21 days, it is considered lost.

Airlines and damaged baggage

If your luggage is damaged, you have to make a written complaint within seven days of receiving the luggage. You can claim for the destruction or damage of baggage.

If the airline does not agree with your claim, you can take them to court.

Ferries and lost/damaged luggage or vehicles

If your luggage is lost or damaged or your vehicle is damaged, the ferry company’s responsibilities are set out in law. The ferry company is not responsible for any valuables, such as jewellery, if you did not ask for them to go into the ship’s safe.

If you have lost luggage and it is recovered on the ferry or in the port, it is normally sent to the ferry company’s shore offices for collection.

  • The ferry company’s liability for the loss of or damage to cabin luggage is limited to about €2,000 per passenger
  • Liability for a lost/damaged vehicle, including any luggage in or on your vehicle, is limited to about €12,600
  • Liability for other lost/damaged luggage is limited to about €3,400 per passenger

You should report damage to luggage in writing within the following timeframes:

  • If you can see damage when you are leaving the ferry or when your luggage is returned to you, make your complaint immediately.
  • If the damage is not obvious at first, make the claim within 15 days of you leaving the ferry or having your bag returned to you. If your bag is lost and not returned to you, make your complaint within 15 days of when it should have been returned.

You don’t need to give written notice where the luggage has been jointly looked at by you and the carrier before leaving the ferry.

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