What to do if your bags are lost or your flight is cancelled

Covid is causing more travel chaos and issues surrounding international travel at present are no secret. Whether it’s lost luggage, canceled flights or delays, it seems to be happening more often.

When it comes to baggage, the issues are not just in Ireland with many airports across Europe struggling to find baggage handling staff.

From just chatting to friends and family, I’m sure we all know someone who has had a similar issue this summer. In recent weeks, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Crystal Kung Minkoff even informed followers about her missing baggage after landing in Ireland and on Monday, pro-Irish golfer Leona Maguire put a call out on Twitter as her golf bag was missing following her flight from Dublin to Geneva.

What to do if your luggage is lost

Under the Montreal Convention, the airline you fly with is liable if your checked luggage is lost, delayed or damaged — and not the airport.

If your bag fails to appear on the carousel upon arrival, report it as soon as possible to the baggage claim area. Here, you should fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) with the details of your bag.

The PIR is used to help trace your bag, but it is important to hold on to a copy of this in case you are asked for proof of reporting the issue. You may also be asked for your luggage tag number, which you should get during check-in, so be sure to hold on to this too. It is also advised to keep any receipts of any essential items you have had to purchase because of the delay or loss of baggage.

Following this, get the contact details for the baggage department. Some airlines have a number specifically for issues with luggage through which you can report it missing. In the case of Aer Lingus, you can check the status of a bag that has been reported as missing by using their designated baggage tracing service.

Depending on your airline, you may be entitled to a daily allowance while your baggage is delayed, so be sure to ask about this.

The compensation you are entitled to again depends on the airline.

Lost or delayed baggage is one issue being faced by passengers this summer. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

As stated by the Consumer Association of Ireland, you must submit a written complaint to the airline as soon as possible once your luggage has been missing for 21 days and is therefore deemed to be lost. For delayed baggage, the same complaint should be made within 21 days of its arrival.

Alternatively, depending on your travel insurance, you may be able to make a claim under your policy. If not, be sure to submit all receipts when making your claim. In the case of lost baggage, you must also submit as many original receipts as possible for the contents or proof of purchase of the items.

What to do if your flight is delayed

In the case of a short-haul flight (1,500km), the delay must be more than two hours while for a long-haul flight, (between 1,500km and 3,500km), it must be more than three hours. With other flights, the delay must be more than four hours.

In these cases, the air carrier may be obliged to provide meals or refreshments, depending on the length of the delay. If an overnight stay is needed, then this should also be covered along with transport between the hotel and airport.

If the air carrier cannot provide this, be sure to keep any receipts and you should be reimbursed for these additional expenses.

Passengers whose flight is delayed beyond the specified timeframe are also entitled to two free phone calls.

If the delay exceeds five hours and you decide to take the flight no longer, you are entitled to a full reimbursement.

Queues at the Aer Lingus Bag drop in Dublin Airport Terminal 2 earlier this month.  Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
Queues at the Aer Lingus Bag drop in Dublin Airport Terminal 2 earlier this month. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

What to do if your flight is cancelled

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a choice of either a full refund or a re-routing.

Compensation also depends on the notice you were given of the canceled flight. If you are informed more than two weeks before you are due to fly, unfortunately, you are not entitled to compensation. This gets a little trickier depending on the offered re-routing and notice of cancellation.

According to the Consumer Association of Ireland, if you are notified between seven days and two weeks before your flight and you were given an alternative option which left no more than two hours before your original flight’s departure time and arrived no more than four hours after the original arrival time, you are not entitled to compensation.

In the case of less than seven days’ notice, if the alternative flight left no more than one hour before your original flight’s departure time and arrived no more than two hours following the original arrival time, you are also not entitled to compensation.

If your cancellation falls outside of this, the compensation you are entitled to will depend on the distance of the flight. This can range from €250 for flights less than 1,500km to €600 for flights more than 3,500km.

However, if the air carrier proves the flight cancellation was due to “extraordinary circumstances”, such as extreme weather or security risks, and was therefore unavoidable, no compensation is payable.

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