I love to travel light, so I always check-in my bag if the first free checked bag is included. Needless to say, I’m no stranger to temporarily displaced bags, as recently as last month.
I’ll start off with some basic “before the airline loses your luggage” tips:
1. Keep Your Tags
Don’t lose or throw away your checked luggage tags/receipts until after you’ve retrieved all your bags. You will need them to file a claim. This may not apply to all airlines. For example, I like Delta’s baggage tracking system. You can find your bag receipt number and track your bags easily on their mobile app.
2. Keep Your Work Attire in Your Carry-On
If you have a work commitment, keep a set of work attire in your carry-on. Or wear it. I learned this lesson the hard way when United lost my bag on a work trip. I had to rush to get some last-minute shopping done. Thankfully, United’s courier service delivered my bag early next morning. I couldn’t remembered the last time I was so glad to see my work clothes!
3. Be Prepared to Lose Your Checked Bag
I’m dead serious. Don’t put anything of value (sentimental or monetary) in your checked bag. In fact, don’t put anything in your checked bag that you’re not willing to lose. Whenever I check-in a bag, I’m always prepared for the possibility that the airline could lose my bag. Forever.
What to Do When Your Airline Loses Your Bag
1. File a Lost Baggage Claim
If you bag is lost, keep calm. Locate your airline’s baggage claim office at the airport. Go in and file a claim.
That’s it. Don’t expect anything more.
The staff will ask for your checked bag tags and your local address. You may be asked to provide a description of your bag. Once the staff files the claim, you’ll get an informational pamphlet with your claim number. Don’t lose it – you’ll need the claim number to track your status.
As tempting as it may seemed, there isn’t a need to call every couple of hours to track the status. Your bag won’t be located any faster by calling multiple times.
2. Have the Bags Delivered
You generally have two choices once the airline locates your bags. You can pick them up at the airport or have them delivered to your local address. My recommendation: Let the airline deliver the bags. It saves you a trip and airport parking fees. The only exception is if you have onward travel and you won’t be at your local address for long.
Once your bags are located, the airline’s sub-contracted courier service will usually get them delivered to you within 24-48 hours. In my case, one was delivered the very next morning (United). Most recently (Delta), my two bags were delivered the next evening at a little over 24 hours.
3. Save Your Receipts
When you have lost or delayed bags, airlines have a claim process that allows you to file for small, reasonable incidentals associated with the inconvenience. Save your receipts. Many credit cards include travel coverage, so you may be able to file a claim for necessary out-of-pocket expenses.
Set your expectations appropriately. Expect the worst, but hope for the best.
Your lost bag is most likely a case of a delayed bag. Sometimes it may take 24-48 hours, sometimes longer, but they usually have a way of turning up at some point.
In some rare cases, accept the fact that your bag may be permanently lost.
If you’re currently dealing with a lost bag, may your bag have a good journey and find its way home to you.
Have you ever lost your luggage? Did it turn up eventually? Sound off below.