3 Steps to Take When an Airline Destroys Your Luggage

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Frequent flyers might expect periodic travel hiccups when you travel with checked luggage. Usually, your bag arrives at the airport at a different time than you do. While being disconnected from your baggage is a minor inconvenience, it pales in comparison when your luggage is ruined.

While there are plenty of ways to prepare for a good flight, the airline is responsible for protecting your checked luggage. Unfortunately, though, mishaps happen and some things are out of your control. However, that doesn’t mean you’re helpless if the airline damages your luggage.

1. Notify The Airline Immediately

3 Steps to Take When an Airline Destroys Your Luggage
Ticketing counter at the airport

As soon as you receive your bag, inspect it thoroughly for signs of damage before you leave the baggage claim area. It’s easiest to notify the airline at the airport immediately as most airlines require in-person notification.

If you notice abnormal damage besides “normal wear and tear,” perform these actions:

  • Take photos of the damage to your luggage and packed contents
  • Take pictures of the luggage barcode tags
  • Create an inventory of the damaged items
  • Try to determine the cause of damage

Another point to consider is if the damage stems from the airline or the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). If the TSA damaged your bag during an inspection, you will need to file a claim with them.

Completing these first steps helps you prepare for the initial conversation with the airline. You will be able to physically show all of the damage locations and how many items are damaged.

This is especially important because if you notice additional damage after the initial report (like in the inside of the bag), the airline likely won’t let you file a second claim. It is possible for the airline representative to add notes to your claim for further consideration, but will vary by airline. 

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