Imagine being the last person at the conveyor belt of your flight and you still haven’t seen your bag or bags. Then slowly you come to that understanding that your bags aren’t coming. What do you do? Feeling gutted and numb, your brain goes walkabout for a bit then maybe panic sets in before disappointment and eventually anger sometimes. Relax, it’s not your fault that that has happened. Go to your airline’s help desk or airport help or information desk with your boarding passes and lodge in your problem. Make sure you leave all your travel and contact information. Stress the importance of your luggage to whoever is handling your problem, try to be as professional as possible but with a firm tone. You are golden to an airline and their reputation is at stake here.
On average, over 20 million bags are lost or misplaced per year. That is about 6.5 bags per 1000 passengers. So yea the chances of it happening to you are very real, and high. I have seen so many people who have lost or cant find their bags at their destination airport, trust me its not a pretty sight and you would not want to be one of them.
Lost Luggage – If the airline loses your bags, make sure you get a written claim for damages. This may require a different form than the original “missing luggage” form. This can be done at the airport or by mail.
The maximum an airline pays on lost bags and their contents is currently limited to $3,500 per passenger on U.S. domestic flights, and a varying rate per passenger for checked baggage on international flights based on the Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention. In the United States, if you paid a checked baggage fee for your lost bag, the airline must refund your fee. Check your carrier’s website for specifics.
You may need to produce receipts to prove the value of items you had in your lost luggage. If you have them, include copies in any documentation you send to the airline. (Keep in mind that you will be reimbursed for the depreciated value of your items — so the airline won’t give you the full $1,000 you paid for that suit you purchased two years ago.) Some credit card companies and travel agencies also offer optional or automatic supplemental baggage coverage.
The airlines typically have a long list of items for which they will not be held responsible; these include jewelry, money, heirlooms and other valuables. These sorts of items should always be left at home or packed in your carry-on bag.
Stolen Luggage – Head directly to the baggage carousel when you get off your flight to minimize the potential time for your bag to be stolen. Many airlines scan bags when they’re loaded into the baggage claim area and keep records, especially at larger airports. If your bag goes missing after you’ve left the baggage claim area, your claim is no longer with the airline, but with the police. Your homeowner’s insurance may cover a stolen suitcase; if it doesn’t, consider purchasing travel insurance.
Damaged Luggage – Once you’ve gotten your bags off the carousel, immediately check them for damage or other signs of tampering or mishandling. Report any damage before leaving the airport; airline customer service agents will often want to inspect the bag. Keep in mind that most airlines won’t cover minor wear and tear.
You will most likely need to produce a receipt for any repairs, or be required to use airline-sanctioned luggage repair vendors. Ask the baggage claim attendant for specific information. You don’t want to find out that you have paid for a repair that isn’t covered.
So many factors come into play as to why and how our bags get lost during our journeys and I try my best to summarize a few and offer a few tips to help us reduce the risks.
- During transfers – Its one of the most likely part of your journey where bags are lost. Most people love short connections because it makes journeys faster but that comes with a cost at times. If your flight is delayed or you miss a connection. It is highly likely that you are not just missing your flight but bags too in the end.
- Delayed clearance – At times due to airport, weather, custom and space and weight restrictions a bag might be with held or misplaced or lost entirely. It is too broad a topic and I promise to visit it in detail in the near future.
- Failure to load the bags or mishandling at the arrival airport – A lot happens when your bags are dropped down the conveyor belt and out of your sight. Handlers have been known to steal or even damage bags such that they are not fit for transportation.
- Same color bags. Sounds fancy and trendy having those LV or Versace bags that are in the market but have you stopped to think that someone might pick yours by mistake at the arrival airport because they all look the same.
Ways to minimize losing luggage, delaying luggage and damaging luggage. One cannot eradicate the chances of this happening but one can at least minimize the chances of it happening to you or at least help you with the process.
1. Put your name and phone number on the outside and inside of your bags. Even better, put a copy of your itinerary in each checked bag so the airline can locate you.
2. The most common causes of lost and delayed bags are late check-ins and tight connections. Avoid both when you can.
3. Pack all valuables in your carry-on bags. Cameras, computers, medication, wallets, heirlooms, jewelry, passports and essential travel documents should never be in your checked baggage.
4. Itemize. It sounds tedious, but when an airline asks what was in your bag, you don’t want to forget anything of value. If you make a packing list before you travel, hang on to it — this is an easy way to remember everything you put into your bags.
5. Make sure the person who checks your baggage attaches the correct destination ticket to every bag, and get a claim ticket for each.
6. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on bag so that you’ll have something to wear if your checked bag is delayed. If you’re traveling with a partner, consider dividing each person’s clothes between your checked bags; this way if one of the bags is lost, you’ll each still have some of your belongings.
7. Travel insurance is the best guarantee that you’ll recoup any losses.
8. Consider using a baggage tagging service such as SuperSmartTag or ReboundTAG . These services offer luggage tags with unique serial numbers that can be linked to the suitcase owner via an online database. The site will contact you as soon as your lost item is found.
If all fails to get your luggage or compensation bag you could always consider legal action if its a viable option in your country or place of residence.
Thank yo and safe flying
AviaConnect (M B Dube)