Number of bags lost by airlines soarsAirlines failing passengers for lost luggage

17 March 2009

The number of bags lost by airlines has hit a record high, new figures have revealed

According to data collected by the Air Transport Users’ Council (AUC) more than a million pieces of luggage were lost in 2007 and 42 million bags were mishandled by airlines around the world.

Airlines scrimping on compensation

The AUC said airlines are also failing to adequately compensate passengers when bags do go missing or if bags are damaged, often failing to pay out to passengers because a claim is not supported by receipts.

No-frills worst offenders

The report cited no frills carriers Ryanair and Jet2 as the two airlines with the lowest compensation payouts. According to the AUC, Ryanair often limits its passengers to £15 regardless of how long the bag has been delayed while Jet2 refuses to reimburse passengers for claims under £30.

Passengers losing out on claims

The AUC cited a number of cases where passengers received substantially less than they claimed from an airline.

One airline lost the baggage of two passengers who were sharing a single checked-in bag. The airline offered to reimburse the passengers £233.78 instead of the £1,233 claimed because the passengers had not provided receipts for all the items to back up their claim.

Low compensation payout

In another example, a passenger found that his surfboard and surfing accessories had been crushed during a flight. His claim totalled £768.99 but the airline only offered him £66.95 despite him having a receipt for the surfboard. In this case the airline said it had taken account of wear and tear because the surfboard was over three years old.

AUC chairman Tina Tietjen said airlines should be prepared to compensate their passengers fairly when things go wrong. “Complaints to the AUC show that passengers often struggle to get reasonable redress from airlines after the event,” she said.

"And with delayed baggage, passengers are often left out of pocket because airlines will not reimburse them fully for expenses they incurred buying essential items whilst they are without their bag."

Amanda Diamond from Which? Holiday said: “We would advise passengers to take out adequate travel insurance so that if the airline fails to make a fair payment you can make a claim on your travel insurance if your luggage is lost or damaged.

“If you do want to claim compensation for damage write to the airline within 7 days of receiving your luggage. For delays, write within 21 days from when you handed your luggage to the airline."

For information and advice, read our guide on what to do if your luggage is lost or damaged. 

Which? Holiday

For independent expert holiday advice you can trust subscribe to Which? Holiday. Members get four issues of the magazine each year and have unlimited access to the Which? Legal Service for help with any holiday-related problems.

RSS Feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? RSS news feed here. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste this link into your newsreader: . Find out more about RSS in the Which? guide to news feeds.