How Much Money Do You Get If an Airline Loses or Delays Your Luggage?

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Nothing is more disheartening than coming off a long flight and finding out that your luggage has either been lost or delayed. Especially if you arrived at your destination for an important event, such as a wedding or a job interview

We asked lawyer and personal finance pro Erika Kullberg (Instagram: @erikankullberg) — who has built a huge online following (19M+ combined followers) for reading and explaining companies’ terms-and-conditions to make sure consumers know their rights — to answer common travel policy questions. 

As she famously says in her videos, Erika reads the fine print so you don’t have to. 

So, what rights do you have when it comes to lost or delayed luggage? And what if you have to buy clothes or other items for your event? 

Erika Says... 

You may be entitled to compensation. 

Citing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), she says airlines are responsible for up to $3800 for lost or delayed luggage on domestic flights.  

If Your Bag Is Delayed... 

Let’s say your bag is delayed and you don’t have access to things you need (such as professional clothes, toiletries and makeup for a job interview). Erika says it’s the airline’s responsibility to reimburse you for those expenses.  

All you need to do is save those receipts and go through that airline’s process of reimbursement. 

If Your Bag Is Lost... 

Erika says the airline is responsible for compensating you for the bag’s contents. However, there’s a catch! 

Some airlines have terms that exclude certain items from this rule. For example, they might say they’re not responsible if there was a computer in your lost luggage. 

Erika says it’s important to check your airline’s terms-and-conditions to determine what should and shouldn’t go in your bag. 

Additionally, a lot of credit cards have delayed luggage insurance as one of their benefits, so be sure to check those as well. 

What About International Flights? 

While these rules apply to domestic flights, DOT says that if an airline loses or delays your luggage on an international flight, you may still be covered. 

They cite a treaty called the Montreal Convention which states that the maximum baggage liability for flights covered by this agreement is currently 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (approximately $1,700.00 U.S. dollars) per passenger. 

DOT specifies that this treaty covers MOST international flights, but not all.  

Be sure to also check out Erika’s tips on canceled flights, getting a hotel room if your flight is delayed, price-matching flights and overbooked flights

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