How Much Can I Claim in Compensation for my Lost Luggage?

How Much Can I Claim in Compensation for my Lost Luggage?

4 min read
The ClaimCompass Blog
Thomas Busson
Thomas Busson
Tarifa, Spain

Depending on whether it is the Montreal Convention or US regulations that are applicable, you may claim between $1,800 and $3,500 in compensation for your delayed or lost checked baggage.

Air passenger rights laws vary from one region to another, but in the case of lost or delayed bags, there are only a few references that cover the majority of scenarios for your baggage claim.

Ultimately, the compensation amount is determined by:

  • Your itinerary
  • The value of your mishandled checked bags

The best way for you to prevent the airline from losing your bag is to travel with a carry-on only or fly direct - since 46% of luggage mishandling occurs during layovers, when baggage are transferred from one plane to another. But you don’t always have a choice, right?

So, if the airline has already lost your bag or you’re afraid it might happen to you in the future (you'd be surprised how often luggage gets lost), check out how much you could claim.


ClaimCompass can assist you in getting compensation for your delayed or lost bag from the airline. Feel free to submit a claim in a few simple steps !


Lost or delayed luggage on a US domestic flight

If the airline misplaced your luggage on a domestic flight in the United States, you may claim up to $3,500 according to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

(By the way, the same applies to damaged baggage)

Keep in mind that this is the maximum liability limit: the exact amount compensation you can claim for your lost bag also depends on the contents of the bag and your ability to prove their value.

Note that each airline has their own definition of when a bag is declared “lost”, but most consider your bag lost if it has been missing for 5 to 14 days. You’ll surely be pleased to know that even if you receive your luggage after it was declared lost, you’re still entitled to compensation.

Baggage claims for international flights

For misplaced luggage on international flights, the compensation amount is determined by the Montreal Convention of 1999 or the Warsaw Convention. As of the end of 2020, the maximum liability limit is 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

SDRs are the money of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and at the current exchange rate, 1,288 SDR are equivalent to about $1,800 (1,500€). That’s the maximum amount you can claim for delayed, lost, or damaged luggage.

Other rights in cases of missing bag

Money for essential items

The airline must provide you with funds to cover reasonable expenses you may incur in order to replace your “essential items” like toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.).

Reimbursement of the baggage fee

In addition to that, the airline is also required to reimburse you for the baggage fee that you may have paid for the transportation of your bag. For example, if your flight ticket cost $200 but you paid an additional $30 for your checked bag, the airline must refund the $30 that you paid.

Additional compensation

Finally, you might want to check with your credit card company and travel insurance: some of them provide additional coverage for your mishandled baggage. Note that not all insurance policies cover lost luggage, however.

But that’s not all!

You might get even more compensation if you declared excess value to the airline prior to the flight, you might get even more money. For instance, American Airlines will pay the value of your loss up to $5,000 instead of $3,500 if you declared excess value.

The compensation amount is ultimately determined by the content of your luggage

As we detailed in our guide on how to claim compensation for lost luggage, the first thing to do when you realize that your bag was not on the carousel at your final destination is to head to the airline’s baggage desk to let them know that it’s missing.

There, you must ask to fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form. There, you can list the items included in your misplaced luggage as well as their value. This is what will determine the amount you can get if you end up submitting a compensation claim. Make sure to take note of the file reference number: you will need to indicate it when submitting your claim.

Ideally, you want to include the receipts for your items in the claim, to prove their value. It’s understandable that you do not have all the receipts for all the items in your luggage - just make sure that you do not lie about the items in your lost luggage when making your reimbursement claim.

How to get compensation for delayed or lost luggage?

We already wrote a more detailed guide on how to claim compensation for lost luggage, but the gist of it is:

  1. Go to the baggage kiosk before leaving the airport
  2. Fill out the Property Irregularity Report (PIR)
  3. Submit a claim to the airline by providing the reference number on the PIR, the luggage tag you received at check-in, your boarding pass or e-ticket, and a list of the items in your misplaced bag

Make sure that your contact information (email and phone number) is correct so that the airline can get in touch with you - it’s likely that they’ll ask for proof of the value of the items in your luggage, for example.

Alternatively, you could let us handle your lost luggage claim so that you don’t have to deal with the airline yourself.