As the summer continues to shed light on how chaotic the airline sector has become, it’s more important than ever that travelers minimize their chances of losing a checked bag. If possible, it would be better not to check a bag at all. However, it isn’t always possible to travel without checked luggage, and no matter how much you minimize the chances, it is always possible for luggage to end up lost.
So, what should you do if you receive the unfortunate news that your bag has gone missing? Below are several actions you should take; the quicker, the better.
- This step is first because it is the most important. As soon as you know your luggage is missing, head straight to the airline’s assistance or baggage counter and open up a lost/delayed luggage claim. You will need your ID and baggage claim tag, so be sure to place it somewhere you will remember it!
- A common culprit of lost luggage is an error in sorting, and your bag probably wound up on the wrong flight. Once found, luggage is rerouted back to you, ideally within a few days. As a precaution, always pack a few days of essentials in your carry-on bag. Make sure to get a copy of a report for the missing luggage, as this can come in handy later if your bag stays lost for longer than expected.
Get Some Money Back
- If you paid a fee to check your luggage, you are entitled to a refund in most cases. While filing your report for your lost luggage, ask that you receive a refund of the fee paid for checking the bag. It is better to ask for this immediately, as obtaining a refund can be more challenging if you wait too long.
Check Coverage And Track Expenses
- Some airlines will reimburse money spent on essentials such as clothing, toiletries, and other travel requirements in the case of a lost bag. Be sure to ask the desk agent what is covered and how much they will reimburse.
- When purchasing essentials, keep receipts so that you are ready if the airline asks for proof after a claim.
Send It To Your Final Destination
- If the agent doesn’t offer to have your luggage delivered to your home or hotel, make sure you ask them to do this. There is no reason you should go back to the airport to get your luggage, which can be especially helpful if your hotel is a long distance from the airport.
Keep Your Credit Card In Mind
- Many credit cards offer travel benefits that cover lost or delayed luggage. This is another area where keeping track of receipts and getting copies of reports from the airline will come in handy.
- Take a look at your credit card’s benefits guide to know what they cover, when you need to notify them, and how to submit claims. They usually have this information available online, or you can call the number on the back of your card.
- Perhaps one of the best things you can do to prepare for lost luggage, travel insurance will help cover any costs or losses incurred. Typically, travel insurance will cover any expenses after taking into account how much the airline compensates you.
- Some travel insurance will cover expenses that may occur on a per diem rate, while others have a flat coverage amount. Bring up your policy and double-check it, and contact your insurance right away. To make this easy, check if your insurance provider has an app or a live chat you can use instead of calling or emailing.
Inspect Upon Delivery
- Once your luggage (hopefully!) makes it back to you, make sure to inspect for any damage or missing items. Airlines will reimburse you for damage, as compensation for damaged luggage is a requirement set by the Department of Transportation.
- In the event of a missing item, you may be able to track it down through the airline or be reimbursed. If the airline doesn’t follow through on reimbursement, this is where it will be handy to have a travel insurance plan.
If The Worst Occurs
- Hopefully, after trying everything above, your luggage will have found its way back to you. However, if your luggage is officially declared lost by the airline, it’s time to submit a claim for everything you lost.
- List everything that was in your bag with estimated values. If you have original receipts, that will be even better. Anything that helps the airline assess your luggage’s worth will be beneficial. Depending on the country, airlines will have limits on how much they are held liable for. For more details, see your passenger rights.
- Of course, a new level of coverage may kick in from your credit card provider or travel insurance if the bag is officially ‘lost’ and not just delayed, so double-check those coverages too.
An Important Reminder
Throughout the entire process, it is helpful to stay positive and calm. This will benefit you by keeping your trip enjoyable and getting airline staff on your side. Airline staff are dealing with a lot lately, and being someone easy to work with will go a long way. It can be challenging, especially when so many personal items are missing, but the airline staff will do their best to help you. Traveling is stressful sometimes, so try not to let a missing bag ruin a trip. Pack a great carry-on, stay upbeat, and the rest will work itself out.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories