If you’ve ever had an airline lose your luggage, you know the frustration that it can cause. If you’ve never lost your luggage…well, imagine that you did – bad time, right? Here are some guidelines to getting back your lost luggage. But before we get into that, why not talk about preventing the issue in the first place? Even the very best at luggage security (Virgin Airlines) loses track of 0.87 bags per 1000 passengers. So, go the extra mile and keep your things coming back to you.
If possible, don’t even check a bag. You’ll have to lug an extra bag on and off the plane, but there’s no time spent waiting at the luggage carousel, and more importantly – 0% chance of the airline losing your luggage.
Now, if that’s not an option, there are still a number of steps that can be taken to help thwart mistakes.
1) Remove any old luggage tags from previous flights. This is an easy one. Airline employees are far less likely to send your luggage to the wrong place if there’s only one tag on the bag.
2) Label it! Put your name and phone number on the inside and outside of your bag.
3) Try to fly nonstop, and try to avoid smaller regional airlines. Less transfers means less chances for mistakes. Some of the worst offenders of lost luggage have been small, regional airlines in recent history.
4) Keep your bag check. This is another easy one that you should be doing already anyways. Don’t lose that little slip of paper. Take a picture of it on that smart phone of yours too, just in case.
5) Consider insurance. Some credit card companies offer luggage insurance when you buy a plane ticket, and some home owners insurance will help out with luggage too. Check your policy and read the fine print.
6) Carry a set of necessities. Bring some underwear and socks in your carry on. Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. More than one bag being checked? You’d be wise to pack half of each type of item in each bag.
7) Ship it! UPS or Fedex can take care of it if you need to move something that can’t be carried onto a plane.
8) When in doubt, take a picture. A black suitcase looks a whole lot like every other black suitcase. A few pictures can come in handy. You’ll only have lost the 30 seconds it took to snap some photos.
Well, look at that. You took all the necessary precautions and the airline still lost your luggage. What do you do now?!
1) Stop right there. Even if you’re tired after a long flight and frustrated with the situation, don’t leave the airport and just deal with it in the morning. First, get a claim number from an airline representative. Some carriers will allow you to make the claim within 24 hours, but is it worth the dreaded automated customer service system?
2) Keep your cool. While an upset customer might get his or her way in other circumstances, this isn’t the time for that. The person you’re talking to didn’t lose your bag. Remain calm, and that person will be more likely to want to help you.
3) Know what’s in your bag. This means having a list of what’s in there. If you’re a frequent flyer, you probably pack the same things for the most part every time. If you’re not, write out a list before you even pack. That way you’ll be sure to have everything you need, and you’ll be able to tell the airline exactly what was in there.
4) Get copies of everything. When you get the lost baggage claim at the airport, get a paper copy. Get receipts when you buy toiletries and other necessities while waiting for your bag to arrive. The airline may reimburse you for these items. Keep flight ticket receipts too. When you file the reimbursement claim, you’ll want that information.
If you’re one of the unlucky souls that has a bag that’s lost indefinitely…
1) Find copies of receipts for valuables that were in your bag. You probably don’t have those, so check your credit card bills. The airlines will only pay you for the depreciated value of those items though – so maybe you should leave that computer at home if you don’t want to carry it on the flight.
2) The department of transportation limits maximum claims to $3,300 per passenger. Keep that in mind when you’re packing. (Who’s packing over $3K worth of luggage anyways?!)
3) Depending on the airline you fly with, there will be a specific time frame within which you may file a claim for reimbursement of lost/damaged items. Check your airline’s website, and file it on time.
Hopefully you never lose a bag. If you do, hopefully you remember these guidelines and use them to your advantage. Good luck, safe travels, and keep on pinning!