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Revealed: The Airlines Most Likely to Damage Your Luggage

Do you want to avoid flying with the airlines that are most likely to damage your luggage? Trifibre has crunched the numbers to help you plan your next trip.

You are more likely to have your luggage damaged when flying with Ryanair than any other airline, according to data from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Out of 823 claims for damaged luggage submitted to airlines between 2015 and 2020, over one in ten were made to Ryanair.

Trifibre has investigated claims for luggage damaged on flights that took place over a six-year period using a Freedom of Information request to access data from the UK’s aviation regulator, which investigates claims that individual airlines are unable to resolve.

The data, which covers airlines serving the UK, highlighted 108 claims of damaged baggage submitted to Ryanair – 13% of claims overall and more than double any other airline.

Emirates came in second place, after receiving 47 claims for damaged luggage during the same period – 6% of claims overall – while Alitalia was third with 40 claims for damaged baggage – 5% of total claims.

Chris Cox, Managing Director at Trifibre, comments: “The results provide passengers with the inside knowledge they need to make informed decisions about the carrier they choose to travel with and the airports that they use.

“Where possible, we recommend taking items on as hand luggage to be stored in overhead compartments or under seats, as this reduces the chances of your baggage being mishandled.

“That’s easier for items like cameras and laptops, but for large or bulky items that are not suitable for hand luggage, such as instruments and sports equipment, it really is worth doing your prep work.

“Know your rights in case something goes wrong, ensure your travel insurance covers any damage to your luggage and invest in a protective case that will really do the job you need it to.

“If you are travelling with expensive equipment used for sport or professional purposes rotational moulded and injection moulded cases such as MAX Cases or Trifibre’s roto moulded cases provide the best protection against any impact, dirt, dust and moisture your baggage may come into contact with during its journey.”

In the event of your luggage being damaged, what are your chances of a successful claim? Less than half. Only 46% of claims (380) out of the 823 submitted were upheld in favour of the passenger, 12% (101) were upheld in favour of the airline and 0.5% (4) are still in progress.

In nearly half of all cases 41% (338), either no reply was received from the airline or airport, the claim was not taken up, or the case was marked alternative dispute resolution.

While claims for damaged luggage were most likely to be submitted following a Ryanair flight, it was also revealed to be the airline with the most claims for damaged luggage upheld by the CAA in favour of the passenger.

But don’t expect a quick resolution, on average, a claim for damaged baggage that is upheld takes 154 days to reach a conclusion.

The airline that was quickest to resolve claims was Stobart Air at 27 days, while United Airlines was found to be the slowest at resolving claims, taking on average 418 days for claims to be concluded.

The airline that took the longest time to reach a settlement was Ryanair, with a whopping 868 days.

The claim, which was likely to have been delayed by Covid-19 lockdowns and disruption, took nearly two and a half years to be resolved after it was submitted in June 2019 and eventually upheld in favour of the passenger when it was settled in October 2021.

The Worst Airports for Damaged Luggage

London Heathrow tops the table as the airport where your luggage is most likely to be damaged. Those departing from and arriving at Heathrow airport are most likely to find their luggage damaged upon arrival at their destination.

More than one in ten – 13% – of the 823 cases of damaged luggage between 2015 and 2020 were related to flights departing from Heathrow, while 16% related to flights arriving at Heathrow.

As the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow handled 22,109,550 passengers in 2020, according to data from CAA. While this was a 72.7% drop in passenger numbers compared to 2019, due to Covid-19 restrictions, it still carried more than double the passenger numbers of Gatwick, which handled 10,171,867 passengers.

Methodology

Trifibre revealed the airlines with the most claims for damaged baggage by analysing data collected by the Civil Aviation Authority between 1st January 2015 and 31st December 2020.

Data for 2021 was not included in the analysis as passenger numbers were more heavily impacted by Covid-19 restrictions than 2020, due to some form of travel restrictions being maintained throughout most of the year.

The data set was also analysed by airport to show the departure and arrival airports related to the damaged luggage claims.

The data was obtained via a Freedom of Information request and relates to damaged baggage claims that were unresolved by the airline.

To calculate the time taken for damaged baggage claims to be concluded, Trifibre counted the number of days between a claim being submitted and closed. This calculation was applied only to cases that were upheld in favour of the passenger or airline, totalling 481 out of 823 records. The remaining records were marked ‘in progress’ or N/A.

Data correct as of 18th January 2022.

 

How to protect your luggage from damage

As a specialist casing supplier, Trifibre has examined the data to provide customers with the extra information they need when deciding which airlines to trust with their hold luggage.

The insights are particularly useful for those who are travelling with expensive equipment, such as musical instruments, cameras, laptops and sports equipment, and want to take precautions to limit the chances of their kit sustaining damage during handling and transit.

Chris Cox, Managing Director at Trifibre, comments: “As passengers, we are taking a risk every time we check luggage into the hold, so this analysis provides valuable insight for anyone travelling with fragile baggage.

“We want passengers to be fully informed before deciding which airlines to trust with their precious cargo, but we would also encourage them to take steps to reduce the chances of luggage being damaged on route.

“It’s not just the outer case that does the hard work however, precision cut foam interiors provide maximum support and protection to withstand the roughest journeys.”

Chris’ top tips include:

View the Trifibre range of Challenger, MAX and SKB waterproof cases for cameras and laptops or find out more about custom flight cases.

Who is responsible for damaged luggage?

The airline you travel with is responsible for your luggage once it is checked in, until you collect it upon arrival at your destination. If your luggage is damaged during handling or transit, you are entitled to claim compensation from the airline.

 

What to do if an airline damages your luggage

Report any damage to your luggage to the airline immediately. The quicker you act the more likely you are to receive compensation or a positive resolution, so make sure you report any damage before you leave the airport.

 

Can you claim for damaged luggage?

The airline is responsible for luggage once it is checked in, so passengers are entitled to claim compensation for any luggage that has been damaged between check in and collection at their destination.

If your luggage has been destroyed or damaged, you may be entitled to compensation up to around £1,200 per passenger.

When travelling with valuable luggage that exceeds this amount, you will need to make a ‘special declaration’ to the airline when checking in and pay a fee to ensure you are covered for the full value in the event of damage.

Fees vary depending on the airline, so check before you travel and ensure your travel insurance policy provides cover for any damage your luggage receives during handling and transit.