Lost Luggage: What to Do When an Airline Misplaces Your Bags

Follow these steps if you find yourself arriving at your destination without your belongings

Did an Airline Lose Your Luggage? Here's What You Should Do Immediately
Image: Pixabay
October 9, 2018

You've finally landed after a long flight only to find that your luggage didn't land with you. While it might be a minor inconvenience for some, it can cause major stress to others. So, it's important to know what to do in the event your luggage doesn't end up at your final destination.

  1. Go to the Baggage Claim Office
  2. Notify the airline immediately the moment you realize your luggage is missing. The sooner you begin the process of finding your lost bags, the sooner they will (hopefully) be found. Most missing luggage simply ends up on the wrong flight, but it sometimes does get lost. Be sure to get a copy of your report as proof that you have been proactive in the matter.

  3. Provide a Good Description
  4. The more details you're able to provide about your luggage, the easier it will be for the airline or airport to find it. Make sure you know the brand, color, size, and all other important characteristics. Even better, take pictures of your luggage from all sides to be able to identify it, including a photo with the claim tag attached in case you need to file a claim for compensation.

  5. Keep Your Baggage Claim Tag
  6. It can be easy to lose track of your belongings in the hustle and bustle of showing your ID, getting your tickets, dropping off your luggage, and making it through security. It is very important, however, to hang on to the baggage claim ticket or sticker that is given to you (sometimes stuck to your boarding pass). You will need this in the event your luggage is lost.

  7. Check the Airline's Compensation Policy
  8. Some airlines will pitch in to help you buy clothes until your luggage is returned, but often only if they are lost for more than 24 hours. Additionally, airlines typically have limits on the maximum dollar amount of claims. It's important to know this information before you file a claim rather than find out after your luggage is lost that you can't get full compensation. Be honest about how much your luggage is worth as your claim may be denied if you make up an amount larger than its true value.

  9. Let the Airline Deliver It to You
  10. It's the airline's responsibility to get your luggage back to you, not the other way around. Don't volunteer to return to the airport to pick it up. Instead, provide them with the address where you'll be staying so they bring it to you.

  11. Ask for Necessities
  12. Airlines should be able to provide you with basic must-have products to hold you over until they can get your luggage. Don't hesitate to ask for any toiletries or other necessities you may need.

  13. Keep in Touch
  14. Airlines have to deal with multiple issues every day, and it is easy your lost luggage issue to fall through the cracks. Keep checking in, but in a polite way. Getting angry or frustrated with stressed workers will not get you back your luggage any faster.

  15. Travel Insurance
  16. Travel insurance will cover some or all of your losses if your luggage goes missing for a certain length of time or if it is permanently lost and cannot be located. If you have travel insurance, let the company know right away that the airline has lost your luggage.