What to do if luggage is damaged during flight

Instances where the luggage appears to have been torn, cracked, or suffered other forms of damage come under the definition of damage to luggage. Photo: iStock/anyaberkut

We all want to travel comfortably because any problems during the journey can spoil the entire experience. Paying extra attention to your luggage, especially when travelling internationally, is important. Have you ever considered what to do if your luggage is damaged during a flight? If such an incident occurs, there is no need to let it ruin the joy of the journey by getting tensed up and stressed. Below are some tips on what to do in such situations.

Typically, flights reach their destinations with most baggage remaining undamaged. However, there is a possibility of one’s luggage getting damaged during the flight. Therefore, air passengers should know what to do if their luggage sustains damage during the journey. Instances where the luggage appears to have been torn, cracked, or suffered other forms of damage come under the definition of damage to the luggage. As a standard procedure, most airlines state in their instructions that valuables, money, jewellery and electronic items should not be placed in the check-in luggage. Nonetheless, here are the steps that the passengers should take if their luggage is found to have suffered any damage.

Onus on the airline for luggage damage
The airline is answerable to the passenger for any damage caused to the luggage. The airline must compensate the passenger for the damage and is also obligated to repair it. However, the airline cannot be held accountable for damage if it was pre-existing or caused by improper packaging. The airline is obliged to adequately compensate the passenger if the damage caused to the luggage is beyond repair.

Exception to compensation rule
In the normal course, airlines advise passengers not to include certain items in their luggage. If, however, such items are included in the luggage and they get damaged, no compensation is payable to the passenger. These restricted items include electronic goods, cash, valuables, and jewellery. Nevertheless, if these items are allowed in the luggage, even on international journeys, the airline must pay compensation for any damage. Travellers may also benefit from insuring expensive items. Airlines cannot evade their responsibility for damage caused to the wheels, handles, and straps of the luggage bag.

24-hour time frame for filing complaints
After the flight, if you discover that your baggage has been damaged, file a complaint within the specified time. For domestic flights, the complaint should be registered within 24 hours of the plane landing, and for international flights, within seven days of the landing. Provide as much information as possible when filing a complaint. Pictures of the luggage taken before and after the trip will be very helpful in substantiating the complaint and obtaining compensation.

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