Nothing is worse than seeing luggage arrive, just to find out yours has been lost. Whether you are heading for a long-awaited vacation or a business trip, that can ruin the mood for the entire adventure.
But don't lose your hope just yet – if you follow these steps, you might be able to get your luggage back. Or – in the worst-case scenario – at least a generous compensation.
Look for the baggage desk.
When you have realized that your bag is lost, the essential step is to stay calm. Losing a bag is stressful, but taking a deep breath. Getting worked up, or panicking won't help you any good. The first thing you should do is report it missing.
To do so, you must head to the baggage desk for the airline that operated your final flight. It is their job to make sure you get your luggage. Some smaller carriers have contract agencies responsible for many airlines, so you will have to file the report with them. Also, companies have toll-free numbers that can be used to get updates on lost luggage claims.
As you talk to the agent, explain what has happened. The person working for the airline may be able to look up information on their computer and see where the luggage could be. For this, you will most likely have to show a copy of the bag tag which you had gotten at check-in. Some airlines have apps where their clients can check their luggage's status. If that is the case for you, make sure to check it.
File a lost luggage report
If the agent doesn't know where your bag might be, then it is time to file a missing baggage report. This is important – try to be as detailed as possible. Think of your bag's color, size, last whereabouts, material, and tags.
Whether you are using the toll number or talking to an agent in person, make sure to leave your contact information, so the airline can reach you when they have updates. Typically, when luggage has been lost, the company will hand-deliver it to your chosen address. However, don't forget to specify this because there are exceptions.
Find out what the airline will cover.
When it comes to lost luggage, time is of the essence. Many airlines will reimburse your checked baggage fees if your bag is delayed at least for 12 hours of submitting the claim. Don't miss out on this opportunity! When talking with the agent, ask them what the airline will cover. Depending on the company, you may get kits of basic necessities. If your child's seat was delayed, some airlines even lend you a car seat. Keep in mind that usually, the companies don't cover your expenses if you are returning home since you should have access to essential items you need.
Follow airline updates.
After you have filed a report, there is not much you can do except wait and follow the newest updates. Most carriers have now moved toward automated systems for tracking luggage. When you speak to the agent, remember to ask them for a reference number for your bag.
Then you will be able to check out the status of your report. For example, you can find information on American Airlines, Delta, and United websites. If you are not friends with the internet, you can always call.
Get compensation for missing items.
After 24-hours pass and there is still no sign of your bag, you typically qualify for compensation. You will have to fill out another form and include information on the value of your lost content. This process can be long and annoying, as you will have to create a list of everything that was packed inside it.
For this reason, it is best to take photos of your luggage before traveling. After that, the company will calculate your compensation. Remember that a bag is usually classified as lost only after 14 to 21 days. Then you will have to do another form (unfortunately), this time for lost baggage. The carrier might ask you to include information on purchase dates and original receipts, but the compensation in this situation will be more considerable.
Have a look at your credit card and insurance.
Before you start freaking out about everything you have lost, find out whether your credit card offers lost or delayed baggage benefits. Like before, you must notify the company as early as possible. Usually, you might access the benefits from your credit card faster than from the airline or your insurance provided. After you have looked at your credit card's policy, check out your travel insurance. Sometimes even your homeowner's or renter's insurance might cover some of the expenses.
Look for damage to your luggage and packed items.
If you are lucky enough to get your luggage back, look for any damage. If you see that your bag is not in the same condition as before, you may request the airline to repair or even replace it. Then you will have to submit another form. The same goes for damaged or missing items – check carefully whether your luggage includes everything you packed. Losing your luggage sucks – there is no question about it. However, if you act quickly, you can make the situation better.
Follow our travel guidelines and get what you deserve!