Compensation Clinic: Luggage Delay & Damage By United


This is the Compensation Clinic-series about problems and compensation received during travels. You can email me your story; basically what happened, how did the claims/resolution process went (success/failure) and what did they give you. I will have a new case every Sunday.


LoyaltyLobby reader from Canada sent me an email about the experience he had had with United earlier this year. The passenger was flying from Toronto to San Juan via Houston in business class, but the checked in bag didn’t arrive with the same flight. United had sent it to Newark. When the bag finally arrived, the pull handle had been torn off and the bag basically destroyed.

The passenger had called United to inquire about this, but was told that he should have filed a report about the damage at the airport. How could you file a report about a damage, when you haven’t even seen the damaged bag?

At the day of departure, he had decided go to the airport early and to find his way to the arrivals area, where he had met United baggage employee that had agreed that the damage was claimable and had given him the file number.

United had paid him $150 for the checked in bag (no receipt) and $150 for incidentals that required receipts. It took about a month for United to pay for these after the reader had tweeted United with the picture above. It took his coworker more than two months to get reimbursement from United (didn’t go public).


If you bag is delayed, you always need to get a file reference (PIR – Property Irregularity Report) number from the baggage handling agent that is not always the airline. Most airlines use IATA’s WorldTracer (you can read more about the WorldTraver here), but the old United had their internal system and I am not sure, what Continental United uses.

You should always report any damage on the spot, but that is impossible in case of delayed bag that is directly delivered to your hotel. LoyaltyLobby reader did the right thing and went to the airport early on the day of departure and then filed the claim for the damage.

Airlines usually pay for reasonable expenses that are due to delayed bag. If you are going for a beach holiday and all your beach gear is in the checked bag, just go and buy what you need and later go through the claim process with the airline. They may suggest that they only pay $50 per day for delays, but that is only a guideline. Just save all the receipts and file them with the claim.

It doesn’t hurt to contact the airline via Twitter or Facebook to check the status of the claim. Airlines tend to have dedicated and more empowered customer service reps working these public channels.

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