What to do if your luggage doesn’t turn up on the carousel –
Happily, Gatwick is one of the better airports at looking after your luggage. You are 39% more likely to have your luggage lost or damaged when travelling via Heathrow than travelling via Gatwick. However, it can happen so check out here what you can do to get it back or get compensation.
At the airport
Airlines are more likely to accept responsibility and pay up for lost or damaged luggage if you report the problem straightaway. You should go to the airline desk in Baggage Reclaim to get a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR). The airline staff use this form to record the details. Legally, you can still claim without a PIR but the process is likely to be more of an uphill battle.
As well as personal and flight details, you’ll need to give an accurate description of a missing bag. Record any distinguishing features. A good tip (for the highly organised) is to keep a photo of your luggage on your phone. Photographic evidence can also help if you are reporting damaged luggage. Write to the airline, enclosing the a copy of the PIR, within seven days of the flight.
After you have left the airport
If your luggage turns up after a day or two, it’s up to the airline to make arrangements for getting it to you as efficiently as possible. If it doesn’t show up, you should be able to monitor it through the tracing procedure. You can do this by contacting baggage services at the airport or the airline’s central department. You can also log into an online baggage-tracing page with a reference number. This reference will relate to the luggage receipt usually attached to your passport or boarding card at check-in. Therefore keep your luggage receipt to hand. If there’s no sign of your bag after three weeks, it will be declared lost.
What to do in the meantime
If your bag has gone missing on the outward flight and you find you’re on holiday with no possessions, airlines are obliged to cover costs of “essential items”. However, this definition can be a sticking point when it comes to compensation. Depending on the attitude of the airline, it may argue that “essential items” are classified as toiletries, underwear or laundry costs. So don’t rush our and buy lots of brand new outfits. Ask the airline what its policy is and keep receipts for anything you buy. A potential complication is when your bag has been transferred to another one or two airlines within a single journey. In this case it makes sense to claim from the last one flown, as it’s this airline which usually handles the claim.
How you receive compensation
Compensation usually comes in the form of an upfront cash payment, a fixed daily budget or remittance once your claim and receipts have been submitted. Your expenses claim must be sent to the airline’s customer relations department within 21 days of recovering a delayed bag. It may take as long as a couple of months to process your claim. It depends on various factors such as how complicated your claim is and the time of year.
Should you claim on your travel insurance
You may find the airline tries to pass the buck by suggesting you take the issue of compensation up with your travel insurer. You may get a higher level of cover this way, depending on your policy. The maximum payout from an airline is around £1,000, but it’s unlikely to be anything like this much, in reality. Be sure to check your insurer’s excess charge and small print first. Some policies provide minimal or no cover for luggage while in the care of an airline.