Ask LH: What Do I Do If An Airline Damages My Luggage?

Ask LH: What Do I Do If An Airline Damages My Luggage?
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Dear Lifehacker, I recently took a short domestic flight across the country and when I landed at my destination I waited about 40 minutes for my bag to come through the claim area. When I finally got it, I took it home before I noticed a huge crack near the wheel that I hadn’t seen before. What a joke. Will I be able to get reimbursed in some way? Cheers, Broken Baggins.

Hey Broken Baggins – any relation to Bilbo or Frodo?

This is a problem I have wrestled with myself, so I feel your frustration. I bought hard case luggage and noticed that a large crack had splintered the shell of my bag after getting off a flight in Sydney. At the baggage terminal I plucked it from the conveyor and then noticed it had a wobbly wheel. Like yourself, I went home. I have found out since then that taking that step is the wrong one.

But first, a note: Manufacturing defects are likely to be covered by whoever made your luggage, so you should always hit up the manufacturer first if you notice anything has gone awry with zips, wheels or other parts of the bag that may have been damaged in the manufacturing process. Cosmetic anomalies such as dents, scratches and cracks aren’t going to be covered. You will need to seek recourse with the airline that you flew with for these types of damages.

And, you should do this before you leave the airport.

I notice in your case that you were made aware of the damage when you got home, but for other travellers with this issue – make sure you head to your airlines baggage desk as soon as you notice the damage. Doing so will give you the best chance of seeking some form of compensation for the damage. It’s also recommended that you take a picture of your luggage before you fly, so you can compare with the luggage that comes out the other end.

Of course, that doesn’t help you Broken Baggins. In your case, the first thing to do would be contact the airline you flew on. Depending on which company that is will affect how the damaged luggage request is handled. The date you travelled will be incredibly important, with airlines operating in Australia only allowing for a three day grace period in terms of reporting damage. If you’re within this time frame, check the table below, click on policy and you should be able to contact the airline about your issue.

Here are their policies and reporting time limits:



Reporting Limit (Domestic)

Reporting Limit (International)

Qantas Click here 3 days 7 days
Jetstar Click here 3 days 7 days
Virgin Click here 3 days 7 days
Qantas Click here 3 days 7 days

Good luck!

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  • It happened to me on the way home from the US back in 2013. It was basically put to me that to apply, I had to go get the bag fixed, from an approved repairer, then put a claim for damages for that amount. All within 7 days. Said repairer being nowhere near where I lived, which was a different city.

    That’s unreasonable, and given it was the wheels they’d broken off, meant the bag lost part of its key functionality. It was new as well, so clearly not a wear and tear issue. Wasn’t an expensive bag, so I just wrote it off as a wheelie bag (still carries stuff perfectly fine), but the hoops I would have had to jump through were ridiculous.

    • Yeah, the luggage terms and conditions on most airlines mean that you will be jumping through plenty of hoops – did you see them AT the airport? Or did you notice later?

      • At the airport, first thing after I landed. Noticed that one wheel was totally broken off, and the other was barely hanging on. They weren’t like that when I left LA.

        Didn’t lose any sleep over it, bag was a cheapo specifically for that reason (and that it was bright blue, so stood out), but I did at least try. Only annoying thing was that it was its first trip. Would have liked it to survive at least once.

        The matching carryon has been a champion since then, not missing a beat.

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