Thousands of travellers flying from Gatwick have been forced to fly without their luggage this morning after the airport's baggage system broke down.

The problem first emerged around 5am when Gatwick Airport's Twitter account announced that "a problem with the baggage system is causing some disruption at the airport".

The airport now says the baggage system's back in operation - but around 3,000 bags were delayed across a number of flights from the north and south terminals. Arriving flights were not affected.

Here are your rights if you've been hit by the problems - see our Flight Delays guide for more help.

Martin Lewis
Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

My luggage was left behind - what should I do?

Gatwick Airport says that all bags will be forwarded to passengers "as soon as possible at their destination".

If you arrive at your destination airport and your luggage hasn't then the airline is liable for your losses, according to the regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Most airlines have a dedicated baggage desk within the baggage claims area. You must report the fact that your luggage is lost, delayed or damaged at the airport and keep a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (PIR) which staff of the airline will complete.

Make sure you tell the airline the best delivery address for you, as this is where your bag will be delivered.

Airlines SHOULD reimburse you for essentials while you wait for your bags

The CAA says there's no specific law which covers compensation for delayed bags, but most airlines will reimburse you for the bare essentials you need to buy when your bag is delayed. If you are away from home this may cover essential toiletries, underwear and laundry costs.

Some airlines have a daily rate which they will pay per day your bag is delayed. You'll need to make the purchases though and keep any receipts, then put a claim in writing to the airline within 21 days of receiving your delayed bags.

If you are claiming for a delay when you travelled on two or more different airlines, you can claim from any of the airlines - however it would usually be the final airline that would handle the claim so they are a good place to start.

If you're unhappy with how an airline handles your claim, you should first make an official complaint to the airline, and if you get no joy, you can contact the CAA.

Airlines consider claims for additional compensation – for example, for consequential loss where you've missed the start of a cruise you were booked on because you had to wait 24 hours for your bag to arrive at the airport – on a case-by-case basis.

The CAA says airlines often don't automatically consider themselves liable for consequential losses and so ultimately if an airline refuses your claim you could have to take the case to court - though you'd need to weigh up whether it is worth it.

Check if your travel insurer also covers you

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says many travel insurance policies will cover you for the essential items you need while you wait for your luggage, up to a certain amount. For example, Aviva travel insurance policies offer baggage delay cover up to £300, while Direct Line cover varies from £100 to £1,000.

However the ABI says it's unlikely policies will cover you for consequential loss.

The CAA says airlines may not pay out the true cost of what a delay has cost you, so your best bet is to check what travel cover you have, and either claim to the airline or to your insurance provider based on this. You won't be able to claim from both your insurer and the airline.

Remember though that there's usually an excess you'll have to pay when submitting a travel insurance claim - and there's also usually a time limit, so check with your insurer.

How can I track my luggage?

Ask the airline how you can track your luggage when you report your bags missing at the airport. Some airlines will give you a baggage file reference number which you can use to get up-to-date information on your bag's location over the phone or online.

Have your say