22 Sep

Ask the experts: Daryl Nurthen, ABTA's Member Support Manager

The following article was originally published in the September 2022 edition of ABTA Magazine here.

I have seen numerous stories in the media about increasing numbers of bags getting lost or delayed at airports, can you give me some help on what to advise concerned customers?

I think the first thing to let them know is that the vast majority of bags do get to their intended destination and for those that don’t, most are returned to their owners rather than being entirely lost. Anecdotally it would seem that problems are more likely to occur on transit flights, where bags are transferred from one plane to another.

One very simple way to help airlines and their handling agents is to write your name and contact details inside the case, this makes it so much easier for them to identify the owner and where they will be at any given time. Most airlines will also reimburse for essentials such as toiletries, underwear and laundry costs. Some airlines have a daily rate for this.

However, there are a small percentage of bags which are never returned to their owners. Airlines have a responsibility to pay compensation, but this is limited to around £1,200 under the Montreal Convention of 1999, and they will almost certainly insist on receipts; customers may well also be covered under their travel insurance. I would strongly recommend not placing high value goods such as cameras, laptops or jewellery in hold luggage. If these must come on holiday too, take them onboard as hand luggage. If they are placed in the hold passengers may be deemed as not having taken sufficient care of them and this would affect their ability to claim.

Passengers must also report the fact that their luggage has been lost, delayed or damaged at the airport and keep a copy of a “Property Irregularity Report” which staff of the airline will complete.

Finally as I started by saying, the likelihood of a bag being lost or delayed is fairly small, but I still much prefer travelling with hand luggage only wherever possible, simply because I hate hanging around the carousel where my bag always seems to be one of the last to arrive.