Photos are a great way to capture unforgettable moments when you travel, serving as proof that you really were there. But they can also serve as proof in cases where things don’t go quite so well on holiday.
After snapping a picture in your comfy travel outfit we’ve got 10 photos you’ll want to add to your camera roll when you fly. Because if things don’t go quite as planned, like if you’re hit with a flight delay or your luggage is lost, these photos can support a claim for compensation or reimbursement from the airline.
Because like they say: if you didn’t take a photo, did it actually happen?
Why? If your bag gets damaged as it travels from A to B, a picture taken just before you handed it over to the airline will prove that you’re not trying to claim for previous damage.
Photo tip: Make sure to take photos of your bag from all angles.
The luggage carousel slowly makes its way around and you finally see your bag coming towards you. But something doesn’t look right. Because you took a photo of your luggage before handing it over, you have visual proof to back up your claim that your bag was returned in worse condition.
Take a photo of the damage then head to the airline customer service with your boarding pass and baggage tag. You must fill out a damage claim form before leaving the airport. Certain airlines may allow you to file a claim at a later date but it’s important to check the airline’s policy before leaving the airport. Otherwise you may miss out on compensation for your damaged luggage.
Christopher Elliott, of the non-profit Elliott Advocacy, which provides advice and advocates for consumers, says for the best outcome when filing a claim:
“Paperwork is critical. If you don’t fill out the form within a certain amount of time, your claim will automatically be denied. I’ve dealt with many cases where the claim was denied after a traveler waited too long.”
Photo tip: No item is too small, if you’d be upset if it was damaged or lost, make sure it’s in a photo.
If the outside of your luggage has been damaged it’s possible that the items on the inside have too. While you’re packing take detailed photos of what you put inside your suitcase in case something gets damaged or lost.
Along with any receipts you have, this picture will support your claim with the airline for compensation. Under U.S. laws and the Montreal Convention you can claim up to $3,500 in compensation when you receive damaged luggage from the airline, or if your bags are delayed or lost.
Why? If you have to leave high priced items in your checked bag, you want to be extra sure you can prove they were in pristine condition – and appropriately packed – in case they are damaged in transit.
Photo tip: Take photos of the item by itself and again once you have it in its protective packaging.
We always advise you to carry valuables with you onto a plane. But sometimes carry-on size restrictions mean you have no choice but to leave some important items in your checked luggage. Before handing over your Faberge egg or other cherished belongings, take photos of the valuables you pack in your suitcase. Photograph them again once they’re wrapped up so there’s no question that you took the appropriate steps to protect them.
Keep in mind that if something goes missing or gets damaged there’s a limit to how much you can claim. You can increase the amount you’re eligible to claim up to $5,000 by paying an ‘excess value fee’ to the airline when you check in your bags. But if you are traveling with precious goods, consider opting for travel insurance to make sure you are covered in the unfortunate situation that they are damaged or lost.
Photo tip: Make sure all text and numbers on the tag can be clearly read in the photo.
After you hand over your suitcase at the check-in counter, airline staff will give you a baggage tag. The baggage tag specifies who the bag belongs to, where it’s headed, and to track where it goes.
Before you walk away take a quick photo of your baggage tag.
With this luggage tip you can easily pull up the photo in your phone if you lose the tag or simply want to avoid rummaging through your bag to look for it. It is vital to have the information from your baggage tag if you ever need to file a claim with the airline.
Why? If you end up being denied boarding you can prove that you got to the gate in plenty of time.
You’ve made it through airport security and to your boarding area with plenty of time to spare. That’s as good a time as any to take an airport selfie. Not just to post on social media with the caption #travelholic but as proof that you arrived at the gate on time.
When flights are overbooked, the passengers who are denied boarding are entitled to between $675-$1,350 in compensation. Airlines only pay for passengers who are denied boarding due to no fault of their own. So with this tip you can prove you were definitely abiding by the rules.
Why? This easily-lost slip of paper is often a must-have piece of the puzzle you’ll need to create a claim with the airline.
For many airlines, your boarding pass is a crucial item needed to process any compensation claim. Even if you received a paper version from the airline or printed it at home, take a photo of your boarding pass and save it with the rest of your documentation.
If you’ve opted for a mobile boarding pass save it to your phone or grab a screenshot of it. (The apps don’t store them forever.)
Why? If your flight is delayed for an extended amount of time, you may be eligible for reimbursement for the food and drinks you needed during the wait.
Photo tip: Make sure that the amount of money spent as well as the date and time is visible on the receipt when you photograph it.
Just as you check the airport screens to see where your flight is boarding the flight status switches to delayed. This delay could leave you stuck at the airport for hours or even force you into an overnight stay. Which means you’re going to have to hit up airport restaurants and cafes for something to eat.
You can easily keep track of the food and drinks you purchase by taking photos of the receipts. Follow this airport tip if you’re delayed while traveling on a U.S. airline because in some situations you can get reimbursed for your eatery expenses.
However, if your flight is delayed for over 3 hours with an EU airline or when traveling from the EU the airline is responsible for taking care of your food and refreshments. Listen out for announcements about how they’ll be looking after you. This also may be a situation where you qualify for up to $700 in compensation. Have you been on an affected flight? Check to see if you’re eligible.
Why? There are laws prohibiting how long planes can be held on the tarmac, if you’re not allowed to deplane within that time frame (unless there are security concerns) you could be eligible for compensation.
Photo tip: Make sure that you include an item that displays the time in the photo to show how long you’re held on the plane.
You’ve settled in with your seat belt fastened but air traffic control hasn’t given the go-ahead for your flight to take off. Document how long you’re left waiting on the tarmac by taking a time-stamped photo on the plane.
Due to U.S. law passengers flying with U.S. airlines must be allowed to deplane after waiting on the tarmac for 3 hours. On EU airlines, the length on the tarmac before the passengers should be allowed to exit is 5 hours. Learn more about your rights when it comes to tarmac delays.
Photo tip: Be sure to indicate that the date and time of these charges occurred during your flight disruption.
Whether you have to buy toiletries because your bag didn’t arrive on time or you’re missing out on prepaid activities because your flight arrived too late, snap a photo of those receipts. Under the Montreal Convention you can file for reimbursement of additional expenses in certain situations when your trip is disrupted at the fault of the airline.
So, add the receipts for the sightseeing tour and other pre-paid activities to your camera roll to document your expenses. You should also hold on to the paper version to be on the safe side.
Why? The amount of compensation you may be eligible for is determined by how long your delay is at your destination.
Photo tip: Make sure you feature a timepiece in the photo then tag @theairhelper on social media to tell us about your disrupted flight!
Not only can you celebrate that you finally made it to your destination but taking a photo at the time of touchdown can also provide a reference for how delayed you were at your final destination.
So when the airplane door opens, allowing you to exit the plane, snap a time-stamped selfie. If your flight delay causes you to land over 3 hours late when flying from the EU or traveling with an EU carrier you might be eligible for compensation.
These 10 photos are easy ways to help protect yourself in case something goes wrong during your trip. Has a photo ever helped you resolve an issue with an airline? Let us know in the comments!
Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You may be entitled to a much as $700 in compensation if your flight was delayed, canceled, or overbooked within the last three years.
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