Suitcases at baggage claim

Air travel

How much compensation you can get if your luggage arrives too late

You’ve landed at your destination airport but your luggage hasn’t. Here’s what you can do and how much the airline has to pay in compensation.

Barbara Scherer

July is holiday season, and Switzerland’s airports will be teeming with travellers. Airline employees and ground staff are especially busy. So with all the comings and goings it’s not unheard of for a suitcase or bag to go astray. Here’s what you need to do if your luggage doesn’t arrive at the airport, and how much compensation you can expect.

Report the loss at baggage claim

If you’ve landed but your luggage hasn’t, you should report the loss to the airport’s Lost and Found counter without delay. You will then need to complete a baggage claim form. If the counter is closed, you can often complete the form online or at another counter. Failing that, you will have to return to the airport the next day. Checked-in luggage is usually held at Lost and Found for five days. It is then passed on to the baggage tracing department of the airline in question.

Inform the airline

Next, don’t delay in telling the airline you flew with that your bags are missing. If you travelled with more than one airline, you should inform each of them. It is best to do so by registered letter, because an e-mail will not necessarily reach the right department.

If your luggage arrives late, here’s how much you are entitled to

If your luggage arrives after you do and you therefore need to buy various replacement items such as toiletries and underwear, the airline will normally refund you for your purchases. But you will need to keep receipts. If you flew with Swiss, the standard amounts passengers can claim back are USD 100 for Economy Class, USD 200 for Business Class and USD 300 for First Class.

Suitcase is couriered to you

If your suitcase is found, most airlines will deliver it to your address. But not all airlines offer this service. If that is the case you will need to collect your bags from the airport.

Lost without a trace? Here’s what you are entitled to

If your bag cannot be found or is damaged, the airline will have to pay you up to 1,288 Special Drawing Rights. At the current exchange rate that is about CHF 1,500. However, to receive compensation you will need to assert your rights within 21 days. Damage to checked-in baggage must be reported in writing within seven days of its receipt.

Sources: Swissport, Federal Office of Civil Aviation and AFP