Airline Baggage Liabilities
These are general guidelines which most airline carriers abide by:
Liability for loss, delay, damage to baggage is limited to $1250 per passenger on domestic U.S. flights. On International flights liability is limited to $9.07 per pound ($20 per kilo) or a maximum liability of $634.90 per piece of checked luggage. Liability for unchecked baggage is limited to $400.
These limits may be higher if a charge has been paid which specifically values items exceeding these limits (certain items may not be allowed this excess valuation).
Please be aware that almost every airline specifically states that they cannot be responsible for any valuable items (e.g. computers, electronic equipment, camera equipment, jewelry, cash, etc.) in checked or carry-on baggage.
Federal rules allow passengers to claim up to $2,500 if luggage is permanently lost.
For international travel (including domestic portions of international journeys) to which the Warsaw Convention
applies, The Airline's liability is limited to approximately $9.07 per pound ($20 per kilo) for checked baggage (not to exceed 2 bags and $640 per bag) and $400 per ticketed customer for carry-on bags. For international travel (including domestic portions of international journeys) to which the Montreal Convention applies, liability for loss, delay or damage to baggage is limited to approximately $1,375 per ticketed customer for checked and unchecked baggage.
Airlines have been known in the past to damage pieces of luggage, perhaps it has happened to you. In the past, generally speaking, airlines have paid for repairs to most types of damage to luggage. Today things are changing and airlines are becoming stricter in enforcing the policies regarding the types of damage they are responsible for.
Things airlines will not cover include: normal wear and tear, minor cuts, scratches, dents, or soiling/loss or damage to parts protruding from the case (e.g. wheels, feet, pull-handles, flaps, pull-straps)/damage resulting from oversized or over-packed bags/manufacturer defects.
Airline personnel are not always uniform in enforcing their baggage damage policies. It is best to check over your baggage upon pickup and make a claim with the airline immediately with regard to any damage you may notice.
Most airlines will not accept damage claims unless they are made within a reasonable time frame (usually within 48 hours). Airlines have greatly improved upon the ways in which they handle passenger luggage in recent years. The majority of damage occurs with poorly constructed bags which literally break, tear, and fall apart through normal usage and handling. For many years airlines have been responsible for much of this damage, but recent changes have allowed the airlines, legally, not to accept responsibility for much of this damage. Therefore, it is important that you own a well constructed luggage.
Before departure, itemize your bag's contents and their worth, and label the bags with your name, address, and phone number. (If you use your home address, cover it so that potential thieves can't see it readily.) Inside each bag, pack a copy of your itinerary. At check-in, make sure that each bag is correctly tagged with the destination airport's three-letter code. If your bags arrive damaged or fail to arrive at all, file a written report with the airline before leaving the airport.
If your baggage goes astray or your flight goes awry, complain right away. Most carriers require that you file a claim immediately.