If your baggage turns out be lost or damaged, you’ll need to file a lost bag claim with the airline. Make an itemized list of your lost items and their value. Although each airline has its own rules and standards for what it requires and how it settles claims, the law requires airlines to pay each passenger for lost or damaged baggage, which varies depending on whether you were on a domestic US flight, an international flight, or a domestic flight somewhere else in the world.
For domestic US flights, airlines are liable for up to $3000 for losing your luggage. For international flights, baggage liability was set by the Warsaw Convention at $9.07 per pound for checked baggage (US$20/kg) and $400 per person for unchecked baggage. Once you’ve come into an agreement with the airline, don’t expect the reimbursement to come immediately. It may take months for the airline to send that check to you. The airlines also generally refuse to be liable for certain valuable items, such as electronic equipment, important documents, fragile and irreplaceable items, jewelry, money, perishable items, medication, pets and works of art.
One thing to always remember, is to make sure you carry with you anything irreplaceable and expensive (such as jewelry or your cellphone), or that you can’t survive without.(like medication, ID and credit cards and important documents).
Keep in mind, too, that when you accept payment from the airline for your lost luggage, you are also signing over ownership to your lost property to the airline, in case they subsequently find it. The airlines won’t inform you if they find your bag; chances are, instead, they’ll most likely sell your baggage to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, AL. I’ll tell you more about that place in my succeeding posts.