If you travel a lot, you might have at least once felt the fear of seeing the luggage belt turn and turn without your suitcase showing up. But what do you do when there is no luggage with Laptop left? You begin assuming the harsh reality, it is lost.
Luggage can get lost, and it sucks. However, it is not the end of the world. In case you ever have the bad luck of losing your luggage, it always helps to know the right steps to recover it.
So, here are a few steps you can take if your luggage gets lost during your vacation.
1. Stay Calm
Surely, losing your luggage will make you panic. But remember, panicking will not help you. If you are calm, you can get through the problem.
There is a possibility that your bag had been misplaced. According to the reports of Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques’s, 79% of the mishandled bags are only delayed. Another study states that there is less than a 2% possibility that your bag is really lost. So, take a deep breath and steady yourself. Airlines have their own method of locating luggage. There is a high possibility you will be able to retrieve it.
2. Act Immediately and Contact the Airline
There is no use crying over spilled milk. So, instead of getting upset, you need to act immediately.
Your first step should be to contact the airline. Make sure you don’t leave the airport until you have spoken to the airline. Go over to the check-in desk or baggage claim to talk to the airline representative. In case you cannot find any representative, call the airline. They provide a toll-free number that you can call on. So, call to receive updates about your lost luggage.
When you get in touch with them, here are a few questions you need to ask:
- Can you locate my bag?
- When can I expect to get an update about my missing luggage?
- What number should I call on to get updates?
Usually, airlines accept their responsibility when you report the problem right away. In case the baggage does not show up in the conveyor belt, you must contact the airport’s baggage services. If applicable, you have to fill-up forms to submit at the airport. Check the lost luggage section of the airline terms to learn about their policy as it can be a stressful time to remember what the desk agents ask you to do.
3. Request Luggage to be Delivered to Your Location
When you submit your application for the lost luggage, make sure that you leave your contact details with them. Usually, airlines can hand-deliver the luggage to your hotel or home once it arrives.
In case the agent does not give you the delivery option, you should ask them before leaving the airport. There is no harm in asking. It will keep you spending money to go to the airport once again to claim your luggage. A delivery option can be helpful if you are on a business trip and don’t have the time to travel to the airport for your luggage with suits.
4. Ask for a Checked Luggage Fee Reimbursement
A few airlines will have the policy to reimburse your baggage if your luggage is delayed or lost. You can claim for delayed luggage only if it arrives at least twelve hours after you submit the claim. So, time is of primary importance. If you notify the airlines sooner, it only means that the clock will start sooner when it comes to receiving your reimbursement.
Some airlines might also ask you to submit a request if you claim any accidental purchases, such as toiletries or clothing.
5. Make Your Claims Wisely
In case your luggage is misplaced and you don’t have your possessions at your destination, the airline is obligated to cover the cost of all essential items, such as laundry or toiletries.
If you have connecting flights and are flying with more than one airline, it can be difficult to retrieve your luggage. In such circumstances, it is better to claim the luggage from the last flight you have taken. Usually, the airlines pay in cash. They give you a fixed daily remittance or budget. But you can only get the payments when you submitted your claims and receipts.
6. Follow Up with the Airline
You should not wait for the airline to call you. Instead, you must be proactive and follow up. Get the reimbursement for the checked baggage. You have paid a fee to make sure you had your bag as soon as you reached the airport but airlines failed to hold up their end of the deal. So, you deserve to get the money back.
7. Keep the Incidental Expenses Receipts Safely
Most of the times than not, airlines pay up to $50 each day for 5 days for reasonable incidental expenses from the delayed or lost baggage. The expenses include toiletries, clothing, and cell phone cable. So, if you can, get a brief explanation of what the airline you have traveled with, considers to be a reasonable purchase.
8. Check the Credit Card Benefits
Also, get in touch with your credit card company as they can also give you a reimbursement for the bag you have lost. But you can only ask for reimbursement from the credit card company if you have paid using their card.
Usually, these benefits tend to activate sooner than the airline. Also, the credit card companies might reimburse the expenses that haven’t been covered by the travel insurance provider or the airline.
But make sure that you have already read the guide to benefits of the credit company to learn about the deadlines. Remember, you will have to notify the credit card company within 20 days for starting the claiming process.
When your luggage gets lost, you will also have to submit a Proof of Loss statement from the airline to the credit card company. Some companies require you to provide purchase receipts of the damaged or lost items for compensation.
9. Check Luggage for Damage and Missing Items
In case the airline is successful in finding your bag, make sure you check it thoroughly for damage. In case there is, the airline is likely to replace or repair it. But, if there is damage, you must notify the airlines within 24 hours of receiving it.
This is not all. The airline company requires you to fill up and submit another form to claim for a repair. Also, they might ask you to submit proof of the damaged luggage and its content. In case you have bought them online, print a copy of the receipt to submit.
Before you send off your luggage for repair, make sure you take pictures. These are records for the airline company as they might ask you to provide photos along with the damage claim.
In case the luggage has been tampered with or some items have fallen off the bag, you will have to provide evidence to claim compensation. There is a separate form to claim for lost items.
Make sure you have all your communications with the airlines. Keep in mind that it might take a few weeks for the compensation money to be cleared.
What to Do If Your Luggage Gets Delayed?
In case your luggage has only been delayed, here is what you should do.
1. Contact the Baggage Claim Desk
When you notice your baggage is missing, go over to the Baggage Claim Desk within the airport. Tell them about your delayed luggage. Make sure that you treat the staff with respect. Since they are the only ones who can help you, it is better you get along well with them. Keeping the conversation cordial might also help in locating your luggage faster.
2. File a Delayed Luggage Claim
You will be asked to file a claim for your delayed luggage. So, you will have to fill in the official document before you leave the airport. After you are done with the filing, you will receive a copy of the report and the filing number. Make sure you keep it safe as you will need it to track your luggage. Also, note down the baggage desk phone number to call and get an update about your luggage.
3. Ask for an Overnight Kit
You might not require an overnight kit if your baggage is delayed on your way back home. However, if it happens when you are on a vacation, you will need some essentials for the night. So, you should ask the airline for an overnight kit. Usually, every airline keeps a kit ready for situations like this. But most of the time than not, they provide you the overnight kit when you ask for it. Thus, you should always ask.
The skit contains essentials, such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, a razor, a toothbrush, and shaving cream. Some airlines might also provide nylon stockings, deodorant, aftershave, and an XXL-size t-shirt.
4. Claim an Allowance for Your Expenses
You can request the airline to cover reasonable expenses. Like the overnight kit, airlines do not offer allowance if you don’t ask them.
Only lucky travelers get an allowance in the form of vouchers or cash. Generally, the staff at baggage claim will give you a certain figure that the airline will refund. So, when you buy the items, make sure that you keep the receipts of your expenses; you will need them to claim your refund.
5. Check Luggage Status and Wait
After completing the paperwork and asking for the kit and allowance, you can leave the airport. There is nothing you can do now, except for waiting. You can only hope that your luggage is going to reach you soon. Generally, airlines expect the luggage to come on the next flight. So, you will have to wait for a minimum of 24 hours. In case the staff doesn’t get back to you even after 24 hours, call on the phone you got at luggage claim. Find out if there has been any progress.
Generally, it doesn’t take more than a few days to get your delayed luggage.
6. Make Formal Claims
You should claim your right formally. So, make sure you are giving a written complaint about your delayed luggage claim to request payment of additional expenses. If your luggage has been delayed, you must make the claim within 21 days of the due arrival date of the baggage.
But there is always a possibility that the luggage will not be delivered to you. So, if the luggage delivery gets delayed by over 21 days, you should consider it to be lost. In that case, you will have to follow the steps given above.
Tips to Avoid Lost Luggage During Vacation
Lost luggage sucks. However, there are ways to prevent it. Here are some tips that will make it less likely to misplace baggage on airlines.
a. Check-In Early
Some travelers check in late. It can be because they get held up in the long check-in line or arrive late at the airport with just a few minutes to spare. Luggage handlers require time to process the baggage and place them on the plane. It is better to check in at least 30 minutes before departure. The earlier you check in to the airport for your flight, the better.
b. Keep Time in Hand to Connect
In case your trip has a connecting flight, you should have enough time built in your schedule to go from the arrival to the departure gate. Surely, you don’t have to stay at the airport any longer than you must. However, if you make the mistake of cutting it too close, your luggage might not have the required time to make it to the connecting flight. Some international flights need passengers to get their luggage from baggage claim, exit, check-in again, and drop off the bags. So, it is going to take a lot of time.
So, make sure you have enough time for the connecting flight when you get the ticket.
c. Use Luggage Tags
The luggage has an ID tag dangling off the zipper or the handle. However, if your luggage doesn’t, you should attach one before you leave for your flight.
When it comes to luggage tags, you will find many them to choose from. You will also find bags having special QR codes. This helps in finding out the location of the bags. If you attach your own tag, you don’t need to worry, even if the adhesive tags issued by the airlines get separated.
However, when you are choosing a luggage tag, go for something that will not be damaged easily. Choose unique patterns and colors. Stainless steel, silicone, and plastic hold up better than other material tags.
Previously, attached their name, number, and address on their luggage tags. Now, you can add only your telephone number and email address. For privacy’s sake, it is better to avoid sharing too many personal details.
d. Add the Itinerary Inside the Luggage
At times, tags get torn off due to the rough handling process. So, you should keep an itinerary on top of your belongings. This way it will not get lost. Keep a travel plan along with the itinerary inside your checked luggage. In case the luggage gets delayed, the airline can forward the luggage to you.
While you are placing an itinerary inside the luggage, you should remove old tags, barcodes, stickers, etc. No, it doesn’t mean leaving them will cause the handler to be confused, but why leave it to chance? Also, no matter the reason behind misplaced luggage, removing old tags means your luggage can be easily identified.
e. Take a Picture
If your luggage is misplaced, your airline is going to ask you to submit a complete list of items in the bag along with their value. Not everyone can remember what they have packed. So, it is better to click a picture of the contents of the bag before you zip it up.
You should also click a picture of the outer portion of the bag. This way, if the bag gets lost or misplaces, you can give a vivid description of your bag and provide them a picture for further help. After the luggage has been tagged at the drop, click another photo.
f. Consider Using GPS
In case you are too anxious about losing your luggage while traveling for your vacation, take a look at the GPS tracker or Bluetooth tracker tile. New products are being introduced into the market every day.
However, before you buy the item, research. Many people make the mistake of buying without realizing that they might have a problem with something, such as phone network or range covered. So, check out the GPS well and learn about its features and limitations.
g. Ship Your Luggage
Airlines charge passengers huge baggage fees. However, you need to ask yourself if the service they are providing is worth the money they are asking for. Airlines do provide some protection when the bags are lost. However, collecting a claim against your carrier can be time-consuming. Also, it requires a lot of legwork. Often airlines drag out the claim until it is not even valid anymore, to be off the hook legally.
However, if you ship your own luggage, it is a different story. When you do this, you can track your packages. Also, if your luggage gets damaged or lost, it requires less teeth pulling.
Another great advantage of shipping your bag is you don’t have to carry them to and from the airport. All you have to do is ship your luggage, and it will arrive at your destination. Nevertheless, you need to consider the shipping time. If it is going to take a few days, ship your luggage a few days in advance.
h. Make the Bag Easier to Spot
You might have already noticed that the airport authorities keep reminding you to check your tag on luggage at baggage claim before leaving the airport. Bags might look the same, and people might mistakenly grab a bag that does not belong to them.
To spot your bag better and keep others from mistaking your bag as theirs, add some color to your bag or make it look unique. Wrap a patterned belt around the case. It is even better if you get something in bold color. This makes it easier to recognize your bag.
i. Count the Bags Before Exiting the Airport
If you are traveling for a vacation with your family, you might have multiple bags. So, when you are done with baggage claim, count all your baggage before leaving the airport. With so many bags to take care of, it is easy to forget or miscount a piece. Counting the bags before leaving the airport helps in retracing your steps to locate the items.
Moreover, it gives you the chance to go over the bags to check for damage.
Fingers crossed that it doesn’t happen to you. But saying that will never happen to you would be a lie. So, you should be prepared for it. Here are a few recommendations to be prepared for lost luggage during vacation.
- Make sure that you pack your medicines, a change of clothes, a few toiletries, and other essential items in a best carry-on.
- Take some photos of the things you have packed in your luggage for future reference.
- Consider getting traveler’s insurance
Lost luggage is more than just an inconvenience. It costs you money, time, and causes you to be frustrated. You can always submit a lost baggage claim, and the airline might even find and return your baggage, but you will have to do without clothing, toiletries, and shoes for several days on your vacation. Hence, you should always take extra measures to make sure your luggage doesn’t get lost.