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What To Do About Damaged Luggage

What To Do When Your Luggage is Damaged by the Airline

One of the most annoying things besides not getting your luggage is getting a piece of luggage that is damaged. According to Luggagehero.com American Airlines followed by Envoy Air ranked as the worse airline for handling luggage with 0.76% and 0.88% of bags mishandled in 2021. As for the best, that accolade goes to Allegiant Airlines followed by Hawaiian Airlines and Frontier. 

Although the percentage is very small, 0.4% that your luggage will be damaged, it is good to know what your rights are. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation if your luggage arrives damaged the airlines are responsible as follows.


1) Airlines are responsible for repairing or reimbursing a passenger for damaged baggage and/or its contents when the damage occurs while the bag is under the airline’s control during transportation subject to maximum limit liability.

2) For domestic flights, DOT regulations maximum liability is $3,800, and for international flights, the Montreal Convention applies and is currently $1,780 for special drawing rights.

3) Airlines are not responsible for pre-existing damage to the bag or if the damage was caused by improper packing. It is always a good idea to take a photo of your bag at check-in.

4) When the damage to the bag cannot be repaired, airlines will negotiate a compensation amount based on the value of the bag and its depreciation.

5) Airlines often exclude liability for certain categories of items (for example fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items, other valuables, etc.).  These exclusions are typically listed in the airlines’ contracts of carriage.

6) For domestic travel, airlines are not required to compensate passengers for items they have excluded in their contracts of carriage.

7) For international travel, airlines are responsible for these items if they have accepted them for transportation. This applies even if passengers did not disclose, when they checked in, that these items were packed in the bag.

8) Although airlines are not required to cover fair wear and tear, airlines cannot exclude liability for damage to wheels, handles, straps, and other components of checked baggage. 

We hope that this information comes in handy if your luggage is damaged. To cover all the bases, if you are concerned, you might want to consider purchasing additional insurance.