You are arriving from a long trip, you are tired and you are waiting impatiently for your luggage to fall on the luggage belt but nothing looks like your heavy brown luggage holding clothes and souvenirs for you family. It’s getting late and one last option is left in your mind : your luggage is lost. What should you do now that you have a lost luggage and nothing to wear? Don’t panic ! Here are some helpful advices on what you can do if your luggage is lost:
Is your luggage lost or simply delayed?
The first thing you should know is if your luggage is really lost or simply delayed. Most of the time travelers start to panic when they don’t see their luggages coming on the luggage belt but often they are not lost but only delayed. The first thing to do then is to check if your luggage is lost or delayed with your airline. Then, you have to go to your airline’s lost luggages counter and report your missing luggage. You should find those lost luggage counters in the baggage reclaim area, if you can’t find it ask any airline employee to show you the way.
Once there you’ll have to hand your baggage check and fill in a lost luggage form. You should make sure to write down the baggage check number and give a way to contact you to the attendant (phone number, address…). Don’t forget to note down any tracking numbers or pieces of information you will get from the attendant (including their name).
They will then reach out to you if your luggage is delayed. Sometimes it will only take a few hours to get it back because your luggage has been sent to the next flight or it may also take a day or more if it was sent to the wrong airport. But it doesn’t mean your luggage was lost and in most cases you will get it back !
If your luggage is delayed and you don’t know what to do because you have to wait for your luggage and all your important personal belongings are in it, you can always find some stores inside the airport. You’ll then be able to buy some supplies you may need like soap, shampoo, toothpaste,… You can also ask your airline to offer an overnight kit they sometimes give out when something like this happens (they will contain the essentials you may need). Some airlines also reimburse the essentials you bought and you can ask them to do so, but don’t forget to save every receipt !
If you are having a connection after your first plane and it was lost then, you’ll have to fill your complaint at the last airport, even if the second airline is not responsible.
Make sure to head to the lost luggage counter as quickly as you can so you’ll not have to wait for too long if your luggage happens to be only delayed.
What can you do if your luggage is lost ?
What if your luggage is definitely lost and you don’t get news on where it might be? That’s obviously the worst case scenario and we must say that it doesn’t happen that much thanks to how airlines improved in terms of luggage service.
You can consider your luggage lost if it wasn’t found after 14 to 21 days. But luggage not being recovered by their owner are only 3% and most of the time your luggage will be found and sent back to you. If you are part of those 3% and your luggage wasn’t found then you’ll have to go to your airline’s website and fill out a compensation claim for lost luggage. You’ll then fill the form and identify what was in the luggage. Don’t underestimate or overestimate the belongings you indicate on the form, any exaggeration may be spotted by the airline.
Then the airline will have to compensate you for the lost luggage and items. They often reimburse up to a certain amount they will indicate on their website. Each item price is reconsidered to a reasonable amount and add up to your total reimbursement that can’t go over the maximum reimbursement set by the airline.
Make sure to also check your credit card for insurance or any lost luggage insurance you might have got directly with your airline.
How to avoid losing your luggage?
What if we could turn back the time so that your luggage will never get lost? Indeed, before even giving out your luggage and jumping on the plane there are a couple things you might want to check so your luggage has less chances to get lost or at least so you can lessen this loss.
- First, you have to put your name and contact infos on your luggage using a luggage tag. But you also can put those information directly inside the luggage so you will be sure the information is staying there. You may also put your itinerary infos with those documents.
- You can also try to make your suitcase memorable, find a colorful suitcase or add stickers on it so it will be easy to spot. With a photo evidence of your suitcase you can take while queuing for the check-in, it might help getting your suitcase back if it gets lost.
- Talking about check-in, you also have less chances to get your luggage lost if you arrive at the airport early and be one of the first persons to check-in. Most of the time your check-in is available about two hours (more or less) before the departure, make sure to be at the airport at least two hours before taking off.
- Avoiding tight connections is also recommended to lessen the risk of losing your luggage. It takes time to transfer your luggages from one plane to the other so it might be wiser to plan a longer connection lapse. About 90 minutes to two hours should be enough !
- You can also make sure to lessen any loss of your luggage by carrying your most precious personal belongings with you, in your smaller luggage you will carry with you at all times. For example, don’t put your computer, medication, important papers, the teddy bear you can’t sleep without or any valuable items… in your checked luggage. You don’t want those belongings to be lost ! Don’t forget a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage so you’ll have something you can wear if your luggage is delayed.
- You may also want to write down everything you are carrying in your luggage so you’ll have something to copy if they ever ask you to fill out the form for reimbursement.
- Last but not least, check your travel insurance to make sure you will be well covered if your luggages is lost.
What should you do if your luggage is damaged?
Not the worst case scenario, but you still have this thought in mind that you may find your luggage damaged on the luggage belt at your arrival. Broken, your luggage is now hard to carry and you have now lost your precious traveling companion. You have every right to be deceived and you might want to be compensated for this incident.
Before anything else, be sure to have your luggage inspected before leaving the airport if you notice any damages on it and fill a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). But any minor damages may not be taken into account by your airline (scratches, bumps, damaged wheels or locks…). The attendant will then give you the information needed about damage repair, make sure to keep any tracking number so you might have repair compensation.
If you didn’t think about getting your luggage checked at the airport, no worries. You often can fill out a form for luggage repair online but make sure to do that quickly so you will be able to have an answer to your request.
You can also ask for compensation if you find broken items in your luggage but only if you previously made sure everything was packed as it is required by the airline.
Lastly, one precious advice we can give you is to keep you calm and follow every step carefully. Most of the time, your luggage will be returned to you or you will get compensation from your airline. If you make sure to be well prepared for this possibility everything should be alright.