If you’ve had the unfortunate circumstance of an airline losing your luggage, then welcome to my club. I have only had one incidence of this to date, but the experience has taught me a lot. Even if you’ve never flown, knowing beforehand what to do if an airline loses your luggage, can save you some emotional stress. In fact, there are some things that you can do pre-travel that will be of significant benefit and aid in receiving the best possible outcome should your luggage be lost.

If an Airline has lost your luggage, then here’s what you do:

  1. KEEP RECEIPTS FOR PRE-TRAVEL PURCHASES – Claiming for lost luggage actually starts at home before you leave for your trip. If you have purchased any items for your trip (new luggage, new clothes, gifts for friends like that bottle of rumJ) that would be contained in your checked bag, then keep all of your receipts. This will act as proof of the value of the items in your lost luggage.
  2. KEEP TAGS THAT ARE PLACED ON PASSPORT – Again this step is important, even before you lose your luggage. Be sure to keep the small receipt tags that are placed typically at the back of your passport when you check your bags at the airline counter. This tag has the code which corresponds to your checked bags and are necessary for tracking and locating them. These tags are usually pretty secure but there may be a temptation to fiddle with them or they may still come off if your passport is placed unsecured in your bag or get wet or simply get dislodge along the way. If they were not placed at the back of your passport, then be sure to store them away properly.
  3. REPORT IT – If your luggage does not arrive with you when you reach your destination, be sure to visit the Customer Service Agents of your airline. There should always be a representative nearby to report that your luggage is missing.
  4. GET FOLLOW UP CODE – If the airline cannot trace your luggage right away, you should be asked to fill out a form (paper or online) and you should be given a reference code to follow up. Keep the code safe as you will need it.
  5. BE PATIENT – There is no telling when your luggage will arrive or even if it will. In my case, my luggage was due to arrive on the next flight scheduled for the next morning and it was to be delivered to the hotel and it never arrived.
  6. KEEP RECEIPTS FOR REPLACEMENT ITEMS – If you need to purchase any replacement items such as clothing or toiletries, be sure to keep those receipts. While it was the airline’s responsibility to take care of your luggage and make sure that it arrived with you at your destination, they also don’t want to be giving away money just like that. They may require evidence to support your claim and to make sure that your claim is within reason and not the shopping spree you had actually planned to do. In my case, I was told that they were an audited company and had to give account for finances so the receipts were necessary to prove and substantiate my claim.
  7. GET IT IN WRITING – Visit the airline’s website and initiate an online chat with the customer service agent. In your conversation with the agent, clearly indicate that your luggage was lost, the flight number and the date of travel and that you would like an update on your lost luggage and to find out if it has been found. If you can, also include the reference code that was issued to confirm that it was reported. If your luggage has not been found, you should save a copy of this transcript with the airline. Sometimes the transcript is emailed automatically and sometimes you have to manually save it before closing the chat window. This is important because it will act as proof that you flew on the airline and that your luggage was indeed lost and is yet to be found. Your travel insurance company may require evidence that your luggage was indeed lost and has not been found and this may be accepted as proof. I think it is better to have it than to not.
  8. SUBMIT CLAIM – Visit the airline’s website and apply to receive compensation. The list of contents and receipts of purchases before leaving home as well was receipts from replacement items are all important here and would effectively determine how much money you can claim for and ultimately reimbursed. There may be a deadline for submission so be sure to check with your airline on the latest you can submit a claim, as it may vary.
  9. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE – Some travel insurance may cover medical emergencies but may not cover simple things such as the loss of luggage etc. Be sure to know what you are covered for and include lost luggage. If you don’t think the airline has adequately compensated you, then you can try your luck with your travel insurance provider. They too would require all of those receipts along with proof of lost luggage. If you can’t get a “letter” or email from the airline acknowledging that your luggage has been lost, then your chat transcript with the customer service agent online should suffice (Point 7).
  10. BREATHE AND GO AGAIN – Loosing luggage can be frustrating and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The road to compensation may be long and equally frustrating, but you will need to be patiently relentless to get results. But you must not let the negative experience taint your dreams to travel and explore again! The next time, you can always use your own tracking device to keep on top of things.

Bottom line, it sucks to lose your luggage but it doesn’t have to totally ruin your trip. The least you can do is be prepare so that you can be well compensated.

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