The fun and games of the first week of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 shows how easy it is for luggage to get misplaced. So how do you reduce the chances of having a lonely wait at the luggage reclaim waiting in vain for your case?

First of all, ensure that your name and contact details (phone number, not your address) are on the outside and on the inside of your luggage, so when it is found it will be easy for the airline to contact you. Also try to make your luggage stand out so there is less chance of somebody picking it up by mistake. Do not go for odd shapes as these may get caught in the maze of machinery that transports your bag around the airport.

Keep the luggage receipts given to you at check-in safe – no receipt means no claim.

If possible don’t go for tight connections, give the airline the chance to get the luggage to the right place.
So what should you do if it happens to you?

The Montréal Convention also requires that airlines pay up to £800 for lost or damaged luggage. This claim must be declared within 21 days of the problem occurring.


Delayed luggage is not covered, although many airlines voluntarily offer some form of compensation. If you arrive at your destination and your luggage doesn’t, register this immediately with the airline by completing a Property Irregularity Report. You need to be as detailed as possible to help the airline to find it. Keep a copy of this report for your own records and ensure that you have the correct contact telephone number to chase the airline if necessary.

If you need to purchase clothes and other essential items, make sure that you keep all receipts to assist you in any claim.

Insurance may help

If it is late on your arrival then you may be able to claim on your insurance, and the airline should deliver it to your hotel. If it is late on your return journey, then you will not be able to claim, but the airline should ensure that the case is delivered to your home address.

If it is still missing after 21 days then it is officially lost. You will need your Property Irregularity Report to make your claim with your travel insurance.

It may be easier to use your travel insurance if your luggage is lost or delayed, but beware of excess levels and the maximum level of payment set by your policy.