On damaged baggage and how to deal with the situation

A missing wheel, a cracked bag, a burst zip with missing items – all these damages to your checked-in baggage can be claimed (subject to further assessment) – but do you know how to do it? 

Here’s to a series of fun facts on travel tips and what to do in times of need. 

Beginning last year, my family and I have had a series of broken and/or spoilt check-in baggage. These baggage are of decent quality (mostly under Antler) and prior to recent months, they did not give us any issues as they are polycarbonate baggage. However, on quite a number of our recent trips, our bags have been subject to poor handling and as such, we filed for claims for them. 

Every airline has its own partnership with a local company that deals with missing and damaged baggage in the local airport. Upon collecting your baggage from the carousel, always take a look at the condition of the baggage. Minor scratches and minor dents do not often fall under the damage baggage claim, but large ones should be evident to the eye and a claim should be filed before you leave the airport, and the claim should be made in person. 

To file a claim, you will need to have the baggage tag on the baggage itself, your passport, boarding pass (or e-ticket), as well as the baggage tag which was given to you upon check-in at your destination of boarding. Without these items, it may be difficult to submit a claim. Once you have located the baggage claims counter in the airport terminal, you will be required to fill in a form with your particulars – it is important to ensure that the information you’ve provided is accurate as the company will contact you via the information provided to ask for more details. The initial details on baggage condition, model of baggage and age of baggage will also be asked then (you will most probably be required to submit your receipt for the company to determine the value of compensation of your bag). Upon leaving the counter, you will be provided with an incident report with the details you have provided and will be advised on further actions you may have to take. 

For example, when my baggage got damaged during a Singapore Airlines flight from Adelaide back to Singapore, we filed the damaged baggage report and returned home. The bag was collected by the company staff from my provided address and it was further assessed. I received a call after from the company that told me that the baggage could not be repaired and was provided a monetary compensation which I collected from the airport counter a day later. On a different flight, also by Singapore Airlines, my baggage was damaged but could be repaired. The company staff collected the baggage from my provided address, assessed and repaired it, before delivering it back to my address. Communication was fairly simple for both cases and both were resolved easily. 

However, for my Etihad Airways experience on my latest trip to Switzerland, we had damaged baggage issues the moment we touched down in Zurich where our baggage was so badly damaged that we had to discard it at the airport. We filed a damaged baggage report, got the report ID and had to fill in an extensive form on Etihad Airways site with our receipts, baggage tags and photos (it was a pain). Similarly, another bag got damaged on the way back to Singapore and we had to go through the hassle of setting the claims. To date, our second claim has not been fully processed (almost two months from the incident). While I know that we’ll eventually get our money back, it is indeed a hassle. 

Every airline has its own operating procedures, but some are just more convenient than others. You may not always get your desired amount compensated to you so do not get your hopes high – but please always remember to check your baggage and make a damage claims report before you leave the airport! If possible, try to take a picture of your baggage at the check-in counter as evidence of how your baggage originally looked (in case the airline requests for it). 

No one likes to receive a damaged baggage but if you do, do take note on the steps described above!

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