Airline Passengers Who Lose Luggage Leave Billions in Unclaimed Compensation

A mere one out of ten travelers goes to the trouble of filing a claim when an airline has lost or damaged their luggage.

Globally, $6 billion in compensation is left unclaimed every year, according to newly released, exclusive research from AirHelp, an air passenger rights company.

What’s more, at least 90 percent of passengers do not know their rights when traveling, according to the new report.

Under the Montreal Convention and U.S. national law, passengers may be entitled to claim between $1,525 and $3,500 in compensation from the airline at fault for lost or damaged items, but many travelers are unaware of these rights, states the report.

One man even went so far as to wear a t-shirt and boxers to his wedding when Delta lost his suitcase, rather than filing a claim.

“More than 87% of U.S. travelers don’t file claims following an issue with lost, damaged or delayed luggage and 31% aren’t aware they can,” said AirHelp in a statement.

One of the most comprehensive pieces of research on air passenger rights, AirHelp surveyed more than 2,000 people across the United States to understand how travelers are exercising their rights when travel plans go awry.

The survey results showed that the three main reasons passengers did not file a claim for compensation due to luggage issues included: they did not think they would be entitled to compensation (41%), they were not aware of their rights (31%), and they did not know how to file a claim (29%).

AirHelp said these results indicate that the implementation of the Montreal Convention and U.S. national law is not widespread enough, and travelers are leaving money owed in the hands of the airlines.

“Airlines must do better to educate air travelers on their rights…Many U.S. travelers are unaware of their rights under the Montreal Convention, which was ratified by more than 120 countries. It protects passengers when their luggage is delayed, damaged or lost while in the care of the airlines,” Henrik Zillmer, CEO of AirHelp said. “Our survey shows that travelers have a lot to learn when it comes to their rights and that airlines and policymakers have much work to do, in order to better serve travelers.”

Whether a traveler is flying within the U.S. or to one of the other 120 countries that ratified the Montreal Convention, if that person experiences luggage issues while traveling, they may be entitled to compensation.

In order to successfully obtain compensation, a passenger must file a claim before leaving the airport. Travelers should fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) claim for misplaced luggage, including the case number of their bags. The more detailed the claim, the better off the passenger will be. It’s a good idea to include an itemized list of the contents of the lost luggage, including the value of each item.

If you have valuable luggage worth more than 1,131 SDR (Special Drawing Rights), which is equivalent to approximately $1,580, it’s important that the airline is notified before the luggage is checked.

In these cases, it may be able to get higher compensation if the luggage is lost, but the terms vary based on the airline you are flying, said AirHelp.

Travelers carrying valuable luggage should check the policies of each airline, as well as the travel insurance policies for U.S. insurance companies to make sure they are prepared.

To file claims and learn more about travelers’ rights, visit AirHelp.com.

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