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Delayed Baggage on Connecting Flights (Possible Scenarios)


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Is your baggage delayed or lost?

You are not alone. Thousands of air passengers experience this every year. The good thing is that there are laws protecting your rights, and in some situations you even can get a baggage compensation from the airline — lost baggage compensation. All thanks to the The Montreal Convention, a law that most of the airlines around the world have agreed to follow.

Let’s go more into details about passenger rights.

Did you miss a connecting flight? File a compensation claim online.

On board of an airplane
On board of an airplane

1. What Happens With Baggage on Connecting Flights?

There are two, most common scenarios.

  1. If it’s a protected connecting flight, baggage transfer is done by airline. All you have to do is to check in baggage once, and then collect it at the end of the trip. In by far most situations you don’t have to collect baggage between flights. That includes connecting flights with different airlines.
  2. If it’s a self transfer flight, you do the baggage transfer. In short, it’s exactly the opposite from what you experience on protected connecting flights. You collect baggage after every single flight, and you also have to check it in for every single flight on your itinerary. It’s less convenient, and you are less protected on self-transfer flights

Flying with different airlines? Baggage rules are the same.

We have a separate step-by-step guide on connecting flight baggage transfer. There we talk more about checked baggage rules on different types of connecting flights. Click here to see the guide.

Read more: The 2022 Travel Chaos: Can You Get Flight Compensation?

Small backpack
Small backpack

2. Delayed Baggage on Connecting Flights

You are flying with checked in baggage, and the bag is delayed.

It hasn’t arrived, and you don’t know why. It’s also possible, that you have lost baggage in airport. The Montreal Convention has a clear definition of lost baggage, and what is the airline’s (which lost baggage) liability.

2.1 Lost or Delayed Baggage?

Is your baggage delayed or lost?

At first, your baggage will be considered delayed. And then, if the bag isn’t found within 21 days, then it will be considered lost. An airline has 21 calendar days to locate missing baggage. It may take some more days, sometimes weeks, to execute the actual delivery of baggage. But the bag has to be found within 21 days — or, it’s considered lost.

If the carrier admits the loss of the checked baggage, or if the checked baggage has not arrived at the expiration of twenty-one days after the date on which it ought to have arrived, the passenger is entitled to enforce against the carrier the rights which flow from the contract of carriage.

The Montreal Convention

Has it been 21 days already? If yes — your bag is lost. And you may be entitled to lost baggage compensation from your airline.

2.2 What To Do If Your Baggage Is Delayed at Airport?

What to do if your baggage hasn’t arrived with you?

First, don’t leave the baggage hall and report the loss.

It’s best to do it right away. If you know and you see on your boarding pass (and baggage tag attached to it) that this is where your bag must be, then make a report. Don’t forget that on airline-protected connecting flights you have to collect checked baggage only at final destination, not between flights.

  1. Report baggage loss at the airport. To do so, go to the Baggage Office at the baggage hall. Mostly you will find it somewhere near the baggage carousels. Show them your passport, boarding pass and report the loss. Having a photo of your lost bag may turn out to be useful.
  2. Keep tracking your lost bag online. More and more airlines now have special lost baggage tracking apps or websites. You will have to use a special tracking code there — they’ll give you one when you register the loss of your checked baggage.
  3. Lost or delayed luggage? In many situations delayed baggage is found within a day or two. If, however, you aren’t as lucky, and your baggage isn’t found even after 21 day, then… your baggage is lost. It will be considered lost, and most likely you won’t get it back anymore. At the same time, according to the Montreal Convention, you will have a right to lost baggage compensation. Contact airline to make a baggage compensation claim.

A good travel insurance may be helpful too. Simply because often it’s easier to claim compensation for baggage from a travel insurance company than from an airline. Insurance may also cover some other related expenses (including all the inconvenience caused by delayed baggage, not only for lost baggage).

Many credit cards come with lost baggage insurance.

One example. You have a connecting flight with KLM. And your baggage is missing. You can use this KLM lost baggage tracking tool to keep track of your baggage. I found it here – But, of course, you have to register the loss of KLM baggage first.

2.3 Lost Baggage Compensation

After 21 day you have a right to baggage compensation.

You can get up to around €1,300 per passenger.

Learn more about it here, in our lost baggage guide.

View from an airport window
A view from an airport window | Hong Kong airport

3. Will Airline Deliver Delayed Baggage to You?

On connecting flights yes.

The bag must be delivered directly to you.

If airline has lost your baggage, and it hasn’t arrived in time, this is their obligation. They have to take it to destination it was checked in for (your final destination), and where you are now. If you have already moved on to somewhere else, they still have an obligation to make the delivery.

It must be done at no extra cost for you.

What about self-transfer flights? See below.

4. Reimbursement of Expenses (Baggage Delay)

You can get reimbursement of expenses.

This applies to essentials that you are missing as a result of baggage delay. Things like a pair of flip flops, a swimsuit, or a dress, if it’s a summer trip. Things that you had in your checked baggage, and need right now. If it’s a business trip, this could also include something more than basics, but be prepared to prove the reason of your trip and contents of your bag. And, of course, save all your receipts — this applies to all situations and all baggage claims.

Getting reimbursement of expenses:

  • You can submit all receipts to your airline. And wait.
  • Or, you can contact your travel insurance company instead. This often is a much more easy option, and also less stressful option. It’s also yet another reason to purchase travel insurance.

Have you ever done it? Asked for reimbursement of expenses?

Wizz Air airplane
Wizz Air airplane | Wizz Air connecting flights

5. Delayed / Missing Baggage on Self-Transfer Flights

On self-transfer flights, you do the “baggage transfer”.

You collect baggage, and you recheck it for every flight.

Here are some of the most likely scenarios.

5.1 You Forgot About Baggage

You made a mistake at the airport.

You forgot to collect and recheck baggage.

As a result, your baggage got lost. That means, that most likely you’ll have to take care of the baggage delivery and pay for it, when it’s found. Contact the airport you think you left your baggage, and arrange the delivery.

Right to reimbursement of expenses? No.

5.2 Your Bag Was Lost Between Flights (Airline’s Fault)

You had two flights, and after the first one — your bag was lost.

Or maybe you had a total of 3 flights. It doesn’t change anything.

You may do as you wish in a situation like this. You may decide to wait until baggage is found and delivered, at the same time skipping the next flight or flights. Take into account that it may take anything from a few hours up to several weeks until your baggage is found, and delivered. You may also fly as planned, and work on a solution remotely.

This is airline’s fault – they lost baggage. They are responsible for this problem. But only for this one flight, their flight. It’s very likely that they won’t deliver it for free to some other, third city or country (only to the point of departure or the destination of this particular flight).

Right to reimbursement of expenses? Yes (if it takes more than a few hours to find and deliver baggage to the destination of this flight).

5.3 Your Bag Was Lost on the Last Flight (Airline’s Fault)

Still inconvenience, but likely a smaller one.

Especially, if you are going to be there, in this city or country, for some time. It’s airline’s fault and they have to deliver baggage. They have to handle this. Most likely you will receive your bag in a day or two. Or in a few days. Most baggage delays are short. The more frequently the airline flies on this route, the bigger chance of a quick and easy resolution.

Right to reimbursement of expenses? Yes.

Read more: What Is Carry-on Bag / Baggage?

What is your experience with baggage on connecting flights? Baggage on self-transfer flights? Has your bag ever gone missing for a while or forever? How did the airline solve this? Did you receive baggage compensation?

About the author:

Co-founder and Chief Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Kaspars is a digital nomad and travel blogger who’s been traveling the world extensively since 2013. Since 2017, Kaspars has been writing about the less-known aspects of air travel, things like air passenger rights laws and regulations. He’s really good at simplifying complex concepts and making them easily understandable. Kaspars favorite airlines are Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.


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Connecting Flights Guide

Your go-to guide to air travel rules and regulations. Connecting flights, self transfer, onward tickets and more – we want you to understand air travel better

This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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