5 Important Things to Do When an Airline Loses Your Luggage
It can be a real bummer when an airline loses your your luggage, but you don’t have to let it ruin your trip. Here are 5 things you can do to help expedite your reunion with your wayward luggage.
1. Do Some Prevention Before You Go
Although this tip will not help you if the luggage is already lost, an inch of prevention can go for miles, and have your luggage end up at the correct destination should it get separated from you.
- Carry at minimum 1 change of clothes in your carry-on.
- Distinguish it from other bags. Buy a unique color, or grab a sharpie and go to town. Not only will it make it easy to find on the belt, but make it easier for staff looking for your bag to distinguish it from every other black duffel bag in the pile.
- Don’t rely on the traditional luggage tag as your only form of ID on a bag, as they can easily break off when being hauled.
- Put a copy of your itinerary in your bag, that way the know the who and where you are located.
- Do not put valuables in your checked luggage.
- Take a photo of your luggage and know the make & model, this helps in tracking down the bag.
2. Remain Calm
Take a second and breath. Everything will be ok. It is important to remain calm. It is not the end of the world, so don’t let it ruin your trip just because the airline loses your luggage. A calm demeanor will get you farther with airline employees as well. Remember the person behind the counter is not the person who is responsible for your lost luggage, they are your ally in trying to help you get it back.
3. Wait Until the Plane is Completely Unloaded
Pangs of panic can hit when it seems like the majority of your fellow passengers have picked up their bags and are heading out the door but your bag is nowhere to be seen. But a good rule of thumb is to wait it out until the belt stops running. Planes can be massive today, especially when flying abroad. It can take baggage handlers a few trips to unload all the luggage. So take a breath and wait it out before moving onto the next step.
4. Fill Out the Paperwork & Document Everything
When you get to the airline counter to open a claim for lost luggage the airline will give you a form to fill out. Each form varies by carrier, but includes bag information, contents, where you are staying, ect. After filling this out, snap a pic of the form, and of the claim number they give you so you have extra copies. It is also important to note the people you spoke with during any of these interactions. You may also have to go though the declaration line as well when traveling internationally and state the contents of your bag.
5. Know Your Rights
Many airlines have guidelines in place to disperse an allowance for emergency purchases in the event that the airline loses your luggage. You must check with the airline directly to see what their terms are.
It is also a good idea to look into getting a rebate for the bags if you paid for them as many airlines like Delta will reimburse portions of your fee for delays over 12 hours.
In the United States, if an airline loses your luggage, they can be liable up to $3,500 per passenger. On international round trips that originate in the United States, the liability limit is set by a treaty called the Montreal Convention. You can find the most up to date information from the Department of Transportation Here: Fly Rights – DOT