What to Do About Lost Luggage & Broken Suitcases



Few things can dampen the excitement of a long-awaited trip like arriving at your destination only to find your luggage is missing or damaged. Lost or broken suitcases can leave you without essential items and disrupt your travel plans. However, with the right knowledge and actions, you can navigate these frustrating situations and resolve them as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with lost luggage and broken suitcases.

Lost Luggage

Losing your luggage can be a traveler’s worst nightmare, but it happens more often than you might think. If your bags fail to arrive at the baggage claim, the first step is to remain calm and report the missing luggage immediately to your airline’s baggage services office.

Most airlines have a specific timeframe within which they consider luggage lost, usually 21 days for domestic flights and 30 days for international flights. During this time, they will make efforts to locate and return your bags.

READ ALSO: 10 Travel Essentials To Never Leave Home Without

Here are some tips for dealing with lost luggage:

  1. Get a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) or file a report with the airline. This official document will initiate the search for your bags and protect your rights for compensation.
  2. Provide a detailed description of your luggage, including brand, color, and any identifying marks or tags. This will help the airline identify your bags if they turn up.
  3. Keep your baggage claim stubs and any other documentation related to your luggage.
  4. If your luggage is not found within the airline’s timeframe, you can file a claim for reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred due to the lost luggage, such as the cost of replacing essential items.
  5. Be patient and persistent. Follow up with the airline regularly to check on the status of your luggage.

Broken Suitcases

While not as disruptive as lost luggage, a broken suitcase can still put a damper on your travel experience. If your suitcase arrives at your destination damaged, it’s essential to report it immediately to the airline’s baggage services office.

Here are some steps to take when dealing with a broken suitcase:

  1. Document the damage by taking photos of the broken suitcase from various angles. This will serve as evidence when filing a claim.
  2. Request a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) or file a report with the airline, detailing the extent of the damage.
  3. Keep any receipts for temporary luggage replacements or repairs you may need to make during your trip.
  4. Once you return home, file a claim with the airline for reimbursement or replacement of your damaged suitcase. Most airlines have specific policies and deadlines for filing such claims, so be sure to follow their guidelines.
  5. Provide the airline with documentation, including the PIR, photos of the damage, and any relevant receipts.

While dealing with lost luggage or broken suitcases can be frustrating, staying calm, organized, and persistent can help resolve the situation more efficiently. Remember, airlines have established procedures and responsibilities when it comes to handling luggage issues, so don’t hesitate to assert your rights as a passenger.

By following these steps and being proactive, you can minimize the inconvenience and focus on enjoying your travels.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What if my airline doesn’t provide a Property Irregularity Report (PIR)?

Most major airlines have a system for reporting lost or damaged luggage, but if yours doesn’t, be sure to get some form of written documentation from the airline staff, including their names and the details of your issue.

  1. How long should I wait before purchasing replacement items?

It’s generally recommended to wait at least 5 days for domestic flights and 21 days for international flights before buying replacement items, as airlines need time to locate your lost luggage.

  1. What items are typically covered for reimbursement?

Airlines will typically reimburse you for reasonable expenses related to replacing essential items like clothing, toiletries, and medication. Keep all receipts and only purchase reasonably priced replacements.

  1. Can I claim reimbursement for a designer or expensive suitcase?

Most airlines have a maximum liability limit for lost or damaged luggage, often around $3,500 per passenger. High-end or designer suitcases may not be fully covered, so it’s best to check your airline’s policy.

  1. What if the airline denies my claim?

If your claim is denied, you can escalate the issue by filing a complaint with the airline or seeking assistance from consumer protection agencies or small claims court, depending on the value of your claim.


Dealing with lost luggage or broken suitcases can be a frustrating experience, but it doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip. By following the proper procedures, documenting everything, and being persistent with the airline, you can increase your chances of resolving the issue and receiving compensation.

Remember, airlines have established policies and procedures for handling luggage issues, and they are responsible for ensuring that your belongings arrive safely at your destination. Remain patient, stay organized, and don’t hesitate to assert your rights as a passenger.

While lost luggage and broken suitcases can be inconvenient, the right mindset and approach can help you navigate these situations with minimal stress, allowing you to focus on enjoying your well-deserved travels.

In another related article, How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

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