Airline Damage Your Bag? Here Are Your Rights

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5 things to do if an airline damages your bag

1. Head to the baggage claim office immediately if possible. You have up to 24 hours to report a claim for domestic flights and seven days for international flights on most carriers, though policies vary by airline. Southwest and JetBlue require claims within four hours; Frontier, 12 hours. It's easiest to do in person, having everything documented on-site instead of spending time on the phone and uploading claim documents online. Plus, you might be offered a replacement bag on the spot if you're not picky about a new bag.

2. Don't rip off your baggage tags. The airline will need them.

3. Be calm and courteous. A banged-up bag is a bad way to begin or end a trip, but blasting the baggage claim representative for a missing wheel or hole in your bag isn't going to help your claim or get it resolved more quickly.

4. Know the approximate value of your bag and where you purchased it to give you some negotiating leverage in case of reimbursement.

5. Jot down names of airline representatives and details discussed and stay on top of the claims process if it's not resolved immediately. Airlines issue a claim number and updates can be found online. Not getting the answers you want? Ask to talk to someone in the airport office where you submitted the claim or a representative in the airline's central baggage services office.

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