It’s an awful experience when an airline loses your luggage, and it happens to hundreds of passengers experience every single day.
Thankfully, the US Department of Transportation has started laying down the law on what should happen when you arrive somewhere and your baggage doesn’t.
Unfortunately, this still varies wildly depending on each airline and each specific situation.
To help you navigate these tricky waters, we’ve compiled everything you need to know for when your luggage gets lost.
Check the back of your ticket for maximum claims
Get ready to negotiate
Generally, you’re entitled to getting back “reasonable expenses” incurred while luggage-less, though what you consider reasonable might not be in line with what the airline considers reasonable. This is when you need to flex your negotiation muscles.
Back in the day, airlines would have you begging for enough cash to buy yourself a toothbrush, but since the DOTs 2009 regulation, domestic airlines can no longer make up ambiguous figures to pawn you off with, but need to cover “all reasonable, actual and verifiable expenses related to baggage loss, damage or delay,” so keep your receipts. Today, the per passenger maximum is $3,400 for for domestic flights.
Realistically, you will only get that amount if it’s your wedding day and they lost your dress (though why did you pack that?!), but in theory, it means that if you need more than the, say, $50 they’re offering you, you can probably eek out more just by asking and citing the DOT’s decree. And if that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the DOT
International flights are a different ballgame
International round trips that start in the US, one-way trips between the US and international destinations, and international round trips have different limits, which are set by the Montreal Convention. Currently that limit is 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (an international type of monetary reserve currency), which is roughly $1,600