Lost or Delayed Luggage: Here is what to do

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Lost or Delayed Luggage: What you can do
(Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash.com)

The first summer after two years of COVID lockdowns caught airlines and airports totally unprepared. The upsurge of passengers reached pre-pandemic levels.

The lack of staff on the ground and in the air created a slew of canceled or delayed flights, and mountains of stranded luggage.

So chances are the luggage you checked-in may not show up at your final destination. It is frustrating, isn’t it ? But don’t panic. Here are several useful tips you need to know in case your bags go missing

Travel light

The best is to travel light. Take as little as possible. Go with your carry-on only.

In economy class we can take up to 8 kg (17.6 lb) and one personal item such as a backpack or a purse. Premium cabin class, however, allows for more luggage.

The airline responsibility

If you can’t travel light that’s OK. After all, airlines have the responsibility to deliver your luggage to its final destination.

In case your suitcases get lost along the way, airlines have to find and return them to you within a reasonable time. And if they cannot do it on time they owe you compensation. Even more so for luggage that is declared lost. But the compensation has a limit.

How much will airlines pay?

According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) there are limits on baggage liability for domestic or international flights.

For DOMESTIC flights, DOT regulation allows airlines to limit their liability for a lost, damaged, or delayed bag. Airlines are free to pay more than the limit, but are not required to do so.

The maximum liability amount allowed by the regulation is $3,800.

For most INTERNATIONAL flights, a treaty called the Montreal Convention applies to the carriage of baggage.

The maximum baggage liability for flights covered by the Montreal Convention is approximately $1,780.00. This is the most that airlines must pay a passenger for a lost, damaged, or delayed bag. Airlines are also free to pay more than the limit, but are not required to do so.

The baggage claim

After landing proceed straight to the baggage claim area designated for your flight. While waiting at the carousel follow closely the information monitors and the airport announcements for bags currently unloading. It is a common practice at international airports for multiple flights to end up on the same carousel.

If your bags don’t show up head up to a baggage claim office. It is often located at the same claim area. Some airlines even have their own office.

Speak to an airline representative who will take you through the process of filing a missing baggage report. The report will trigger a chain of events aiming at locating your luggage.

At odd hours like early in the morning or very late at night the offices may be closed. Then, call up your airline by phone. Follow the instructions to file a baggage claim.

The luggage pick up

For the missing baggage report you have to choose an option on how to get your luggage once it arrives at the airport.

Travelers often want to spear a trip to the airport and ask the luggage to be delivered to a home address or to the hotel they stay at. It sounds convenient, isn’t it?

But try not to have it delivered. Here is why?

In case of damaged bags or missing content you can file a damage report on the spot and ask the airline for monetary compensation.

Some credit cards also offer travel protection including for damaged or lost luggage. If you’ve used such a credit card to purchase your flight ticket you may be entitled to the credit card compensation as well.

Keep the sales receipts

Not having your personal belongings can be a huge inconvenience. Perhaps you have to go shopping for some essentials and clothing.

Major airlines will help pay for “reasonable expenses” while you wait for your bags to arrive. Airlines, of course, will not reimburse anything without receipts. Shop moderately and do not go expensive.


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Peter Erskenief is contributor to Flight-hunter.com He is a freelance travel blogger and aviation consultant with over 15 years of experience.

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