Plane Passenger Rights: Lost, Delayed, or Damaged Baggage

In the News

Flights and baggage handling are chaotic this summer. You have the right to compensation when your checked baggage arrives late or damaged—or never arrives at all!

When Does an Airline Have to Compensate You?

You have the right to compensation if an airline loses, delays, or damages your checked baggage.

Your baggage is lost if it’s missing for more than 21 days or if the airline admits that it’s lost before then. Your baggage is delayed if it’s missing for 21 days or less.

For damaged baggage, you can’t ask the airline to compensate you for damage that’s caused by the poor quality of your baggage.

What Kinds of Compensation Can You Ask For?

You can ask the airline to refund you any fees you paid for checking your baggage. You can also ask the airline to reimburse you for items you had to buy to replace items that were lost or damaged, or to use temporarily while your baggage was delayed.

The amount you’re asking for must be reasonable. Generally, you can only be reimbursed for the cost of an item that’s about the same price as the one that was lost or damaged.

The maximum reimbursement for lost, delayed, or damaged items is usually around $2,300. But, you can be reimbursed for more than that if you confirmed with the airline that your baggage was worth more than the limit before you checked it. Each airline may have its own rules for how to declare baggage that’s worth more than the limit, whether they’re willing to accept this baggage, and whether there is a fee for doing this.

What Do You Need to Do to Get Compensation?

You must make sure to ask the airline for compensation in writing before the deadline (if there is one). If you don’t, you could lose your right to compensation.

Some airlines may have a specific form to fill out for this.

Deadline to ask the airline for compensation in writing

If your baggage is…

You must ask the airline for compensation in writing within…


7 days after you get your baggage.


21 days after you get your baggage.


a reasonable time, but there’s no strict deadline. You should complain to the airline in writing as soon as possible after confirming that your baggage is lost. So, as soon as possible after the airline has admitted this or after more than 21 days have passed without getting your baggage.

If the airline refuses to compensate you or doesn’t respond to your written request within 30 days, you can file a complaint with the Canadian Transportation Agency through its website.