What to do if your bags fail to arrive with your flight

Plenty of travellers who took domestic flights over the Easter break have found themselves walking away from the baggage carousel empty handed.

If your checked luggage fails to arrive, head for the baggage claim office and lodge a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) with the carrier operating your final flight. You need to include a description of your luggage and it's helpful to have an image on your phone. It's essential to do this immediately because some carriers have a time limit within which to lodge a PIR.

You may be entitled to an immediate cash payment, intended to buy small items such as toiletries just to tide you over until you and your baggage are reunited. Airlines will never advertise this, nor will they tell you how much you're entitled to, but twice over the past few years I've had small amounts from Cathay Pacific and Alitalia. You need to stake your request at the baggage claim office and be firm.

Checked baggage that doesn't arrive on your flight is regarded by the airline as delayed for the first 21 days. Within that period you need to submit a baggage claim form, available on your airline's website. In over 99 per cent of all cases baggage is delayed rather than lost. If after 21 days your baggage has not been located your airline may deem it lost. For the loss of checked luggage on an Australian domestic flight, you're entitled to compensation under the Civil Aviation (Carriers' Liability) Act 1959, to a maximum of $1600. If the value of lost items is greater you need to look to your travel insurance policy.

The airline is responsible for locating and delivering delayed baggage to you at your home address. However if after your domestic flight you've taken an international flight this becomes unlikely. If you are overseas, when your baggage is finally located, the best you can hope for is delivery to the nearest airport and you may have to make your way there to collect it.