Piles of bags at airports like Schiphol speak to a lot: Lots of people lost their belongings for weeks. What compensation are you entitled to if your bag is lost? We explain what you need to do and what your rights are.
Everything stands or falls with good preparation. Therefore, before traveling, it is smart to prepare yourself for the fact that you may lose your bag.
The Consumers Association advises, among other things, to take clear photos of the bag’s interior and exterior, including the contents and labels. It is also recommended to keep receipts of your purchases, although of course it is realistic that not all receipts are available for all your purchases. If you buy something on vacation, keep it.
Some people put an AirTag or baggage tracker in their bag, so they can at least see where the bag is (and at what airport). Read here which trackers are available.
Fill out the PIR form immediately
As soon as you discover that your bag has been lost, damaged or delayed, you must report it immediately. “This is how you secure important data,” the Consumers Association explains. Go to the airline’s baggage service office and request a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) form.
Fill this out right away. You will then receive copies that you must keep safely. The PIR form contains a reference or file number that you will need to claim damage. With the PIR form, you can find your baggage online, for example on the baggage pages of the airline you have flown with.
When did you officially “lose” your bag?
If your bag is not above water after 21 days, it is officially lost. Claim your costs within three weeks of that moment, via the airline or travel company’s website. If that doesn’t work online, the Consumers Association has a letter form for late, lost, or damaged baggage. It is important to fill out the PIR form reference number and attach a copy of your boarding pass and damage certificate.
To receive compensation for damage to your Baggage, you must be able to show photos and purchase receipts. Sometimes you also have to provide a copy of your passport. This relates to both old and new purchase receipts.
If you have to buy a new toothbrush or pajamas, the airline or travel organization must pay for these costs in full. Just keep it reasonable when it comes to new vacation expenses because you don’t have a suitcase. “So don’t buy clothes for three weeks if you lose your bag for one day,” the Consumers Association said.
If the airline does not want to compensate for the damage, you can file a claim with your travel insurance company. According to the Consumers Association, this usually covers damage only to a limited extent, due to the lower maximum compensation. If the ticket or baggage was paid for with a credit card, insurance is often associated with it. You can also contact them, Consumers Association reports.
The airline or travel organization must deliver your delayed baggage free of charge to your home or vacation address.
Compensation up to 1,600 euros per person
Is your baggage worth more than the maximum amount of 1,600 euros? In this case, tell the airline or travel organization when booking. This way you can make an appointment in advance about a higher payment in case problems arise.
If your trip is part of an all-inclusive vacation, you can also hold the travel organization responsible for damages. This will ensure that you can go to the Consumer Dispute Committee with a rejected complaint. If you can’t solve it with them, you have to go to court.
The severe shortage of staff is the reason for the chaos in suitcases
Why are we facing all these problems all of a sudden? Companies responsible for handling bags are facing a significant staff shortage. Thus, a spokesperson for the Consumers Association exudes the image that bag clutter lies in the airports themselves.
“Not the airport but the airlines contract with the baggage handlers. So they are ultimately responsible.”
Advice from the Consumers Association
- Take pictures of both the outside and the contents of your bag. Do it on the way and back.
- Always keep your baggage tag and boarding pass. Take valuables with you in your hand luggage.
- Ensure that Checked Baggage is already checked in your name.
- Report immediately if your Baggage is lost, damaged or delayed.
- Keep receipts of purchases you made because you didn’t have your suitcase.
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