It’s bound to happen to anyone who travels enough. You’re waiting at baggage claim for your checked bag and all of a sudden the baggage carousel stops and your bag is nowhere to be found. I myself even just experienced this on my most recent trip. But never fear, I’m here to help you when that unfortunate event happens. Here are my tips for what to do when your luggage is lost.
Track Your Luggage
Many of the major airlines, such as Delta and American, allow you to track your baggage on their websites, where you can find out information about where your bags are. For example, when my luggage hadn’t arrived on my recent flight, I was able to pull up information on it on the airline’s website and discover that my bag hadn’t made the connecting flight. Knowing at least where your bag is (if it’s not completely lost) can give some peace of mind before talking to the airline and filing a claim.
Immediately Go to the Airline’s Baggage Office
Most importantly, as soon as you discover that your luggage is lost, proceed immediately to your airline’s baggage office, which is usually near the baggage carousels. Here you can get more details on where your bag may be, find out how long it should take to arrive and begin filing a claim. No matter how long the line is, don’t leave the airport before visiting the baggage office.
File a Claim
It’s at the airline’s baggage office that you’ll begin filing a claim. You’ll fill out details about your bag (bag type, color, etc.), valuables and an address to where it can be delivered once it arrives. Many airlines have up-to-the-minute alert systems that will inform you of changes in status. When my baggage was delayed, I got frequent updates via email and had my luggage back by the end of the day, even though I was staying an hour away. Just make sure you file a claim right away, since many airlines require you to file a claim within a certain time period.
Know Your Rights
Once you’ve filed a claim, know your rights about what you’re entitled to. In the U.S., if an airline loses your bag, the airline is required to compensate you for your bag and contents up to $3,300. Additionally, airlines are required to pay a stipend for passengers (after a certain amount of time) to use on clothes, toiletries, etc. Some airlines reimburse when receipts are presented, while others provide a standard stipend, such as $50 per day when your luggage is lost.
Buy a Luggage Tracker
It’s really in the airlines’ best interests not to lose luggage, especially when they could be paying up to $3,300 for lost luggage. Nonetheless, it still happens. To prevent it, consider buying a luggage tracker, which a number of different companies manufacture. Tile, Trakdot and LugLoc are a few of the luggage tracker systems, with many of them having an app so that you can track your baggage in real-time.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.