Lost Baggage on Connecting Flights (Tracking, Your Rights, Compensation)


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Losing baggage is never fun, but it does happen.

It has been happening from the very beginning of air travel. And since 1999, there are common guidelines on this globally (the Montreal Convention). Most of the airlines around the world follow these guidelines. Is your baggage delayed or lost? How much compensation can you claim for baggage loss? What about damaged baggage? The Montreal Convention covers all of this.


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


SAS airplane at the airport
SAS airplane at the airport | SAS Connecting Flights

1. What Happens With Baggage on Connecting Flights?

In short, this is how it works:

  1. If it’s a protected connecting flight, your airline takes care of baggage transfer. You check in baggage once, and then collect it only at your final destination. Only rarely you have to recheck the baggage between flights. You can see the final destination of your baggage on the baggage tag attached to your boarding pass. You are protected by airline.
  2. If it’s a self transfer flight, you collect and recheck baggage yourself. You do it for every single flight on your itinerary. With self-transfer flights you are less protected than with airline-protected 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. Lost Baggage on Connecting Flights

You checked in baggage, and it hasn’t arrived.

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 Baggage Definition

If a bag is “delayed” for more than 21 days, it’s considered lost.

These are calendar days, not working days.

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

Anything less than 21 days is considered baggage delay.

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

First, report the loss of baggage.

You should do it right away, when you see that your bag hasn’t arrived to destination with you. Don’t forget that on connecting flights you have to collect your bag only at your final destination. To see if your bag has also been sent to the same airport, check the baggage tag attached to your boarding pass.

  1. Report the loss at the airport. Mostly you will find the Baggage Office at the baggage hall, near the baggage carousels. You will have to show your passport or ID, and boarding pass. It might be useful, if you can show a photo of your lost bag.
  2. Keep tracking your lost bag online. Many airlines have special lost baggage tracking apps or websites. Look at the website of your airline to learn more about the options that you have. You will have to use a special tracking code for that. You must have received that, when you registered loss of baggage at the airport.
  3. Lost or delayed luggage? If the bag hasn’t been found within 21 days, it’s considered lost. And, according to the Montreal Convention, you have a right to lost baggage compensation. Contact the airline to make a claim.

Having a good travel insurance may be helpful in this case. Very often it’s easier to claim compensation for problems like this from a travel insurance company than from an airline. Insurance may also cover some other related expenses.

It’s also possible that your credit card comes with lost baggage insurance.

One example. Had a connecting flight with KLM? You can use this KLM lost baggage tracking tool to keep track of your baggage. I found it on their website, on this page www.klm.us/information/baggage/lost-baggage. But, of course, you have to register the loss of KLM baggage at the airport first.

2.3 Lost Baggage Compensation

Airline lost baggage, now you have a right to compensation.

The compensation amounts are defined in Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The maximum liability of an airline in the event of lost baggage is limited to 1,000 Special Drawing Rights per passenger. This is where airline responsibility for lost luggage ends. You can’t get more than that. Take that into account and don’t travel with expensive valuables in your baggage.

You can use an online currency converter to check the up to date rate. Or simply type in Google “1000 SDR to EUR”. According to the actual exchange rate, you can receive up to around €1,300 per passenger.

2.4 Lost Baggage Claim for Compensation

How exactly will it work, it depends from the airline.

While some airlines have special forms for lost baggage claims, with others you’ll have to communicate via phone or email. The important thing is that you have to make a claim — you have to request this compensation. Just like with the EU / UK flight compensation for delays, cancellations and overbooking.

How to get compensation for lost baggage? The important thing is that you have to make a claim — you have to request this compensation.

You have to remind the airline of your air passenger rights.

You have to remind them of your lost baggage rights.

Flight delay? Cancellation? Denied boarding? File a claim online.

View from an airport window
View from the airport window | Lost baggage: Passenger Rights

3. Will Airline Deliver Lost Baggage to You?

You have two or more flights. And your bag is lost.

The more flights you have, the more there are possible scenarios. What unites all of them is the fact, that the airline has to take care of this. They have to find and also deliver lost baggage / delayed baggage. They have to take it to destination it was checked in for (your final destination), and where you are now.

The bag must be delivered directly to you.

What about self transfers? See below.

4. Reimbursement of Expenses

Every time a bag is delayed, you may be missing something, right?

Some essentials you had in your checked bag that now is lost somewhere. If the delay is more than a few hours, you have a right to replace these essentials, and to receive reimbursement of expenses for that. But don’t forget that it only applies to essentials that you can’t “survive without”. 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, of course, save all your receipts.

You’ll have to submit these receipts to your airline. If you have a travel insurance, you can choose and deal via them instead — often it’s much more easy.

Wizz Air airplane
Wizz Air airplane | Wizz Air connecting flights

5. Lost Baggage on Self-Transfer Flights

On self-transfer flights, “baggage transfer” is your responsibility.

You collect and recheck baggage for every flight yourself. In some situations you will have a right to ask airline to deliver your baggage, in other — you’ll have to take care of the delivery yourself (and to pay for it yourself). In some situations you will and in other you won’t have a right to reimbursement of expenses.

Here are some of the most likely scenarios.

5.1 You Forgot About Baggage Transfer (Your Mistake)

You forgot about collecting and rechecking of baggage.

You made a mistake. This, of course, is considered your fault.

The baggage got lost due to your mistake. That means you’ll have to take care of the baggage delivery and pay for it, when it’s found. Contact the airport you left your baggage to arrange the delivery of your bag.

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.

Your next flight is leaving soon but your baggage hasn’t arrived. What to do that’s up to you. You may also decide not to take the flight and wait your baggage. Take into account that it may take anything from a day or two to several weeks, and your bag may also never turn up.

Airline lost your baggage. They are responsible for that. But only for this one flight. Most likely, they won’t deliver it for free to some other, third city or country (but 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, not too far away from the airport, for at least a few days. It’s airline’s fault and they will deliver your baggage. Most likely you will receive your bag in a day or two. Or in a few days. The more frequently they fly 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? How did the airline solve this? Have you ever received baggage compensation from airline?


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