Lost Luggage: What To Do


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What To Do When You've Lost Your Luggage

Is that you standing beside an empty carousel? Everybody else has left with their bags but your luggage is nowhere in sight. What to do now?

Keep Calm

The first thing you have to know is that MOST luggage gets found. All airlines have processes to handle lost luggage.

If you're luggage is simply in the next flight you'll get it in a few hours. If your luggage has been missent to another airport ETA for your stuff will be in a few days. When your luggage is found, you don't have to go back to the airport for it - the airlines will bring it to you.

You also have to keep calm because you don't want to be the passenger from hell. Blowing your top is counter productive. Remember, no one wanted this to happen, not the airline and not the airport personnel; take a deep breath and treat them politely.

Report Your Loss Immediately

The moment you realize you've lost your luggage file a WRITTEN claim. You actually have three weeks to file this claim but its best to not leave the airport without a written claim. You have to create a paper trail, don't just tell them they've lost your luggage. Every airline has a special form for this eventuality, ask for that form and file your claim. A claims office or desk should be near the carousel area, if not, approach the airline reservation desk and ask for directions.

Expect a refund on your check-in baggage fee, of course.

One caveat, if you lose your bag after you've left the baggage claim area, you cannot file a claim with the airiines - you have to report the theft to the police.

Claim Reimbursement

If you're one of the unlucky few who have actually lost their luggage you can expect reimbursement on the range of $600 USD to $3,000 USD depending on your specific airline and flight. As part of this process of reimbursing you, the airline will ask you to itemize the contents of your bag together with the cost of these items. Your packing list will be useful at this point, if you have one. For estimating the cost of your items, feel free to use the internet. Be aware that the airlines will consider the depreciated cost of your items.

Not only will you be reimbursed for the lost luggage but the airline might also reimburse you for any expenses you may incur related to losing your luggage. So after you've filed your claim be sure to save your receipts.

If you have homeowner's insurance and/or credit cards you might want to check the small print since lost luggage might be covered.

Escalate

If you're not happy with how the airline has handled your lost luggage you can escalate it to the airline regulatory agency of the airline's home country. In particular, the Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation has a feedback process that has ramifications for airlines that do not give good customer service.


Lost Luggage Prevention

Do the following things to decrease the chance of lost luggage and to increase the chance of lost luggage getting found, and to minimize the inconvenience of lost luggage.

  • Keep your money and jewelry in your carry-on.

  • After you disembark from the plane, go to the carousel immediately to minimize the chance of your bag getting stolen from the carousel.

  • Consider using shippers such as FedEx or UPS.

  • Avoid flights with multiple stops, specially connecting flights that are too close to each other. Transferring baggage from plane to plane increases the chances of lost luggage.

  • When you check in your bag, double check the sticker the agent attaches to your bag - make sure the destination is correct.
  • Tag your bag. Name and contact information both outside and inside your bag. You might want to take advantage of the more advanced bag-tracking tags like Dynotag.

  • Hold on to your baggage claim stub.

  • Keep one change of clothing in your carry-on.

  • If you have multiple bags, spread different types of clothing among different bags so that the loss of one bag won't be as inconvenient.


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