Follow these steps if you encounter the traveler's most-dreaded situation
You can't believe it—you've finally landed after an hours-long flight only to find that your luggage is missing.
This is one of the traveler's worst nightmares, and unfortunately it does happen from time to time. For this reason, it is important that you know what to do in the event it happens to you.
- Go to the airport's baggage claim office
- Know your luggage
- Keep your baggage claim tag
- Find out the airline's policy for monetary compensation
- Let the airline send your luggage to you
- Request that the airline provide you with toiletries and necessities
- Stay in contact
- Have travel insurance
- Set a claim if your luggage is permanently lost
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. Many times the bags were put on the wrong flight rather than simply lost. Be sure to get a copy of your report as proof that you have been proactive in the matter.
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. Consider taking pictures of it before your trip—just in case.
It can be easy to lose track of your belongings in the hustle and bustle of showing your ID, getting your tickers, 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.
Some airlines will pitch in to help you buy clothes until you get your bags back if they are lost for more than 24 hours. In addition, the maximum amount of claims you can take is often listed on the back of your ticket, so make a note of this amount if it's there.
It is the responsibility of the airline to get your luggage back to you. Do not volunteer to return to the airport to pick it up, but provide them with the address where you'll be staying so they can send it to you.
Airlines should be able to provide you with must-have products to hold you over until they can get your luggage back to you, so don't hesitate to ask for any toiletries or other necessities you may need.
Airlines have to deal with multiple issues every day, and it is easy for problems such as lost luggage to fall through the cracks. To prevent this, keep checking in, but do so in a polite way. Getting angry or frustrated with stressed workers will not get you back your luggage any faster.
Travel insurance will cover some—if not 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.
You will probably not be able to get compensation for the full price of your lost bags, but you can make sure to get as much reimbursement as possible by setting a claim with the airline. Be honest about how much your luggage is worth—your claim may be completely denied if you make up an amount larger than its actual worth.