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The Airline Broke my Luggage: Now What?

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Frequent business travelers have probably been there before – you go to get your luggage off the conveyer belt and you notice that your bag has seen better days. It got smashed, scratched and maybe even cracked during its journey to your destination. Read on to determine who’s liable and what you can do in this unfortunate situation.

Damaged luggage

Your bag is damaged

If your bag is torn, smashed, scratched or broken, airlines may pay for repairs or negotiate a settlement to pay you for its depreciated value.

Your valuables are damaged

The airline may or may not take responsibility for this. Some airlines will refuse to pay for damaged items, especially if the suitcase doesn’t appear to be damaged and it could be argued the items were damaged due to poor packing. It’s always a best practice to file a claim anyway.

Lost luggage

Your bag is delayed

First off, rest easy knowing most bags are not lost forever. Airlines have a very mature system that can usually track down bags within hours, and will compensate you for any expenses you incur while they reconnect you with your bag (be sure to keep your receipts!). Report a missing bag immediately and go through the airline’s process, making sure to ask for estimated timing and appropriate contact information.

Your luggage is lost

If your bag happens to be declared lost for good, you’ll have to go through a negotiation process with the airline which can take anywhere from weeks to months. Airlines are liable to reimburse up to $3,500 per passenger for missing luggage on domestic trips.

Your valuables are missing

Again, the airline may or may not take responsibility for this. It’s best to file a claim and hope for a positive outcome.

Tips for lost or damaged luggage


The best way to prevent your luggage from harm’s way is to simply keep it with you. We always suggest carrying on during business trips, especially short ones.

Pack carefully

If you do have to check a bag, be sure to pack carefully, using bubble wrap or something comparable to pack fragile items.

Don’t take valuables

If possible, do not take valuable items with you on a trip. If absolutely needed, consider shipping them to your destination ahead of time.

Don’t overpack

An overpacked suitcase may pop open during travel because so much pressure is being put on the latches.

Don’t check your bag at the last minute

Get to the airport early. If you check in at the last minute, your bag may not make your flight.

Keep baggage claim tickets

When checking in, you’ll be given a baggage claim ticket with a number on it. Keep it handy as you’ll need it if your bag goes missing.

Inspect your bag immediately

Don’t leave the airport before inspecting the outside and inside of your bag for damage or missing items, and report any issues immediately. If you don’t, the airline could claim that the damage happened after you left the airport.

Check for additional baggage insurance

Oftentimes, your homeowner’s insurance policy or credit card will offer optional or automatic baggage coverage when traveling.

Has your bag ever been lost or damaged in transit? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

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