When the Airline Loses Your Luggage


It can get a little stressful when an airline looses your luggage, especially if it has all of your gear in it. There are a couple things you can do to help prevent this, but should the unthinkable happen we have a couple tips for you to help get through the process as painlessly as possible.

Before we get into it, you should know that when packing it’s a good idea to never check any valuables such as jewelry, expensive electronics, breakable items or whatever else may particularly expensive, difficult to replace or near and dear to your heart. If it’s at all possible, try and bring these things with you in your carry on.

It may help if your bag stands out in a crowd

You may also already know that it is a good idea to mark your checked luggage somehow, for example with a bow or tape around the handle. Basically you just want something about your bag that will stand out and make your bag easily recognizable. This will ensure nobody mistakes your bag for theirs, make your bags easy to spot in baggage claim and it could help to locate and describe your bag should it get lost.

Reasons why your bags aren’t there:

There are several different reasons why your bags can get lost. Knowing what these reasons are will help to have your luggage waiting for you at your destination.

  1. Your baggage won’t always be on the same flight as you. This could be because you checked in late, you had a late connection, or there were last minute changes made to your flight such as cancellations or delays. On smaller planes it could even be that they just don’t have enough room and your bags and they will just have to catch a later flight.
  2. Your bags have been mislabeled. It probably won’t happen this way as often, but mistakes are made and things can just go wrong somewhere along the line. It’s a good idea to double check that your stub and the ticket on your baggage match at check in.
  3. Your bags got misrouted to the wrong airport. It might take a few days for your bags to be found at the other airport, but they will more than likely be found and returned to you.

What to do if your luggage is lost:

It’s been said that a little more than six of every thousand people will have something go wrong with their baggage. Most of these problems are handled quickly, but if your bag is gone for more than a month, it’s game over. Your bag will be declared lost and the search is called off. This is why it is a good idea to have an I.D. tag on the outside of your bag with current contact information. That way if some random airport finds your baggage it can be given back to you. When your bags are found the airline will deliver them to you where ever you have requested, and sometimes you can even ask for some reimbursement.

You will need to fill out and submit a claim form. Try and make your list of items in your luggage as accurate as possible and don’t forget to include the bag itself and not just the stuff inside. These forms will be at the airport or you will be able to find them on the airlines web site and you will have to mail it to them.

You’re not alone. Six out of every 1,000 passengers will lose their luggage.

How to prevent or how to prepare:

There are always going to be circumstances that you won’t be able to control that would cause your baggage to be lost. That’s just the risk you take when flying. There are a few things you can do to help the airline out, or in the event of your luggage being misplaced there are few things that will help you be prepared. An article from Magellon’s had a great list:

  • Allow plenty of time at the airport. Bags checked right before departure time may travel on a later flight.
  • Find the destination airport code on your ticket or itinerary, and make sure that the routing tag placed on your luggage at check-in shows the correct code.
  • Make a list of your itinerary, including hotel names, addresses and phone numbers, and the dates of your stay so that delayed luggage can be delivered to you. Keep a copy with you, and place a copy inside each checked bag.
  • Personalize each checked bag with a colorful luggage tag or strap, and take a quick photo with your cell phone or digital camera. Should your bag be lost or delayed, it will be easily described and identified.
  • Do not check valuables – carry them on board.
  • Place a change of clothing in your carry-on bag. You’ll have an outfit to wear and an outfit to wash should your luggage be delayed or lost.
  • Lock your check-in luggage with a TSA approved luggage lock or strap.
  • Report any loss or damage before you leave the airport.

Don’t panic, more often then not your luggage will be delivered to you within 24 hours so you’ll have plenty of time left on your trip to ride.

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