Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Markus Winkler.
Here's What To Do If An Airline Loses Your Luggage
This summer has been a whirlwind for travelers across the country. But not always in a good way. Besides a slew of canceled and delayed flights plaguing travelers this year, they also have to deal with an increase in mishandled luggage by airlines. Mishandled luggage is categorized as baggage that has been damaged, stolen, or lost during travel. And it’s happening more and more each day.
According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly 220,000 bags were mishandled by US airline staff in April 2022. Many air travelers feel the issue has not gotten better since the spring. In fact, some say it’s even worst. The idea of losing your luggage while vacationing is a traveler’s nightmare that most would rather avoid.
While you don’t have any control over luggage being mishandled, experts at AirAdvisor compiled a list of key things to keep in mind if an airline loses your belongings. A lot of travelers don’t realize airlines have to compensate you for lost luggage. AirAdvisor uses reliable data to help you figure out your eligibility and compensation if there are issues with your flight. So if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation, here’s exactly what you need to do if an airline loses your luggage.
File A Baggage Claim
Honestly, every time I’m waiting for my luggage to come around the carousal in the airport, I am filled with anxiety. There are so many bags being transported at one time that I always find myself worrying mine won’t make its way around.
While I have never had my luggage mishandled, thousands of travelers have experienced this frustration. If you notice your luggage hasn’t made it to your destination, the first thing you need to do is file a baggage claim. You’ll do this at the customer service desk of the airlines you flew with. The staff will be able to help you either track down your bags. If they can’t find your belongings, they’ll walk you through filing your claim.
Typically, you’ll find a Baggage Claim Desk or Lost Luggage Desk near the carousel that can help you out. If not, call the airline customer service number as soon as possible to notify them of the missing luggage. From there, they’ll guide you on what actions to take next.
Find Out What The Airline Covers
According to US law, airlines are required to cover the cost of lost and delayed baggage. Mind you, every airline is different when it comes to reimbursements. However, you should be compensated if your things are lost.
Airlines will compensate you up to a certain limit based on the contents of your bag. The maximum liability for domestic flights is $3,800 and $1,800 for international flights, according to the Travel Department. You’ll also get back the money you paid for checking your luggage. Airlines usually deem a bag lost after 14 days and may ask for proof of the items in your bag.
Some airlines pay more than the limit but they’re not required to. However, you should always get something back for your loss. Another thing to remember is that airlines cover up to $20,000 for lost or delayed assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers, crunches, and other tools for travelers with disabilities.
If your bag is delayed, airlines cover the same maximum amount if you need to purchase replacement items until you get your bags. These purchases are classified as reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses. Research your airline to find out its policies. Also remember airlines may exclude items like electronics, repayment, and fragile items may not be eligible for reimbursement.
Buy Replacement Items & Keep Your Receipts
Once you find out what all the airline covers, you can make purchases to reimburse eligible items in your delayed bag. Be sure to keep all of your receipts and proof of purchase. The airlines may ask for these in order to process your reimbursement. Don’t purchase any replacement items until after you’ve filed your claim. While claim processing claims vary depending on the airline, you can expedite this process by filing a complaint with the Transporation Department, Travelers United chairman Charlie Leocha told CNBC. This will help forward your claim to top priority.
Make Sure The Airline Has Your Address
If your luggage is lost while flying, you may not have your belongings for your trip. However, in case your things are found, you want to make sure the airline has the correct address. They’ll more than likely send your luggage to you through the mail so it’s very important you give accurate, up-to-date information to ensure you receive your things.
How To Avoid Losing Luggage When Flying
Some travelers solely travel with carry-on bags to avoid the risk of potentially lost luggage. If you can squeeze everything you need into a carry-on-sized bag, you’ll fare better at not losing your belongings. Unfortunately, if you’re taking a long trip and need a lot of clothing, a carry-on may not accommodate your needs.
Experts at AirAdvisor also suggest using technology and tracking devices to keep track of your luggage. Electronics like Apple Tags are a great way to stay aware of where your bags are and could help airline staff find them if they get lost.
No one wants to have their luggage mishandled when flying. It’s a really good way to ruin a vacation experience and cause immense stress. Fortunately, these steps will help you just in case anything happens to your luggage while traveling.