What to Do When an Airline Loses Your Luggage

Having issues with your luggage at an airport is not only super stressful but can easily ruin your trip. Some of these issues include luggage damage, delays, and losing your luggage.

It is a worst-case scenario but does happen to a few. Dealing with these issues can become overwhelming due to their severity.

According to Sita, baggage handling appears to have improved in recent years, with only 5.60 lost bags per thousand passengers in 2019 and a 45.8% reduction in total mishandled baggage since 2007.

However, in 2019, the aviation sector spent 2.5 billion dollars on luggage handling, indicating that there is still a lot of room for cost cuts.

Although the numbers are not big, and the chances of it happening are low, this can still happen to you. It is best to take precautions and to be informed on the matter. If it does happen to you there are ways you can help yourself.

When traveling it is required to have your essentials at your destination when you arrive. Some people work, or appointments to go to that cannot be delayed. These essential items are sometimes very expensive and cannot easily be replaced.

It is important that you know what to do in case of an event where you find yourself in any of these situations.

Airline carriers are liable for all luggage once you check them in. When an airline loses, delays, or damages your luggage it is part of their responsibility to reimburse you for your luggage. Airline carriers are required to cover any fees they charged you which include the bag check-in fee.

Losing your luggage can be a difficult process, especially since airline carriers have different contracts and policies it is hard to keep up with what you can and cannot do. This is the same for delayed and damaged luggage.

What You Need to Do if Your Airline Loses Your Luggage

When your airline loses your luggage, file a claim to the airline carrier and explain the problem. This can be either lost, damaged, or delayed. Follow up on the status of your claim. and ask the airline for reimbursement on fees and financial compensation.

When damage to a passenger’s baggage and/or its contents occurs while the bag is within the airline’s control during transit, the airline is responsible for repairing or reimbursing the passenger.

Once an airline concludes that your luggage has been lost, it is responsible for compensating you for the contents of your bag, subject to depreciation and liability restrictions.

Airlines are also required to repay any money you paid for the lost bag’s transportation.

What to Do When Your Luggage Is Lost

Whether it comes to determining when baggage is considered lost, different airlines may have varying policies. Most airlines will declare baggage lost between five and fourteen days following the flight, though this varies by the airline carrier.

If the airline’s app allows it, you might also check the status of your baggage ahead of time. There’s a chance your stuff is already on its way. However, if this is not the case, proceed to the following step.

Airline carriers may differ, but the process of reporting luggage as missing is the same across the board.

1. Make sure to contact the airline and report your luggage as missing

Go to your airline’s desk and report your luggage as missing. Use the baggage claim number at the top of your receipt to help the airline worker locate and track your bag.

2. Give the airline the address of where you are staying

It is best to give them all the contact information and address of your hotel/home. This is beneficial and helps them deliver the baggage directly to you.  

3. Make sure to submit a claim after 24 hours to the airline

Make sure to ask the airline when their cut-off date is to claim after your baggage has been declared lost. It is best to make a claim as soon as it has been declared so you are eligible for compensation.

4. Keep receipts

 It’s possible that the misplaced suitcase has all the necessary items for the trip. As a result, you may be forced to purchase identical products while you wait for the bags to be found.

It is best to keep any receipts of any incidental expenses so the airline will be able to reimburse you.

You should also ask for compensation for checked luggage costs and any other fees you had to pay on the trip.

It is important to note that if an airline doesn’t help you, you can file a report to DOT, and they will. The DOT, also known as the Department of Transportation, could take enforcement action against an airline if it refuses to consider luggage lost after it has been missing for an unacceptable amount of time.

The Department of Transportation has a mission to help others make traveling easy.

They ensure that America has the world’s safest, most efficient, and modern transportation system, which promotes our economic productivity and worldwide competitiveness while also improving the quality of life in rural and urban regions.

What to Do If Your Luggage Is Damaged

Since airlines are liable for locating checked bags that do not arrive at their destination, they all use tracking technology to try to figure out where the baggage is. Passengers should contact their airline as soon as possible to register a luggage claim.

Airlines are not liable for damage to the bag that occurred before its arrival or damage caused by incorrect packing.

Some airlines now provide passengers with details on the position of their baggage via applications that are available to cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. If this technology is accessible, it may be beneficial to utilize it to locate your luggage.

After making a claim and through the baggage location process, passengers should keep in touch with the airline.

1. File a claim at the airline counter

Using your baggage reference number located on your receipt and give it to the airline workers. This will help them in tracking and locating your luggage.

2. Continue to follow up on your claim

Keep following up, call the airline and ask for updates. This is beneficial and will help you receive compensation.

Tip: It is recommended to take pictures of your luggage before your flight and after. This makes receiving compensation easier as there is proof of the damage that occurred.

Make sure to read carriage contracts as they all differ across different airlines. Some may have more regulations than others.

Here are a few regulations regarding damaged baggage claims:

Certain kinds of commodities are frequently excluded from airline responsibility (for example fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items, other valuables, etc.). These exclusions are usually spelled out in the airline’s carriage contracts.

Airlines are not compelled to pay passengers for products they have excluded from their contracts of the carriage when traveling within the United States.

What to Do If Your Luggage Is Delayed

Baggage processes at airports may be extremely complicated and waiting 30 or even 45 minutes for bags is not only typical but anticipated.

This delay is normal, and luggage can arrive in waves from a single plane, so just because it didn’t arrive immediately away doesn’t mean it’s gone missing, you should check if it came on an earlier flight.

If you have waited more than 45 minutes for your baggage and do not see it, it is best to file a claim.

1. File a claim at the airline counter

Find the baggage center (usually near the baggage area) and clearly state that your bag is not at the airport yet.

2. Present the counter with the baggage number.

You will need to file a property irregularity report also known as a (PIR). It is best to have your baggage number, and contact information ready as this information is needed to properly fill out a PIR. You can also show them any pictures of the luggage if you took any for reference on their behalf.

3. Ask for an allowance

You may ask for a reimbursement for reasonable expenses such as replacement clothing and other costs. Depending on if your airline offers this service, you might get an allowance in the form of cash or vouchers for local stores.

4. Ask for an overnight bag.

Some airlines offer overnight bags, which include essentials such as shampoo, razors, soap, and some clothes. It is best to ask since some airlines have it and others do not.

According to transportation.gov, under the maximum liability limits, airlines must reimburse passengers for reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses incurred while their luggage is delayed.

Airlines are not permitted to set a daily sum for interim expenses at their discretion. For example, an airline cannot establish a policy of only reimbursing a passenger up to $50 every day that they are delayed.

How Much Compensation Can I get?

According to a new survey by the passenger rights organization AirHelp, 87 percent of travelers do not seek airline reimbursement for missing luggage, and 90 percent of customers are unaware of their airline rights. This adds up to a startling $6 billion in unclaimed compensation by travelers.

Depending on how much your items are in total it can range from $1,500-$3,500.

All airlines are different and offer different reimbursement rates. For example, the maximum an American airline can give you for lost baggage is up to $3,500.

Delta, American Airlines, and United all have policies that state you are eligible for compensation after filing a report. 

What if I don’t agree with the compensation amount?

If you do not agree with the compensation amount, you may appeal your claim. On average airlines reimburse you between $1,500-$3,500.

Unfortunately, you cannot appeal on any amount above $3,500, as it is the maximum an airline can reimburse you in compliance with American travel laws. 

How to appeal your compensation amount?

Appealing your compensation requires you to make another claim with the airline. Make sure to keep a copy of all receipts and have proof of what was inside your luggage. It is best to make sure you have the total worth of your claim.

Disputing the compensation amount will be difficult as airlines will be fair, in any case, that an airline is not, contact DOT (Department of Transportation) and file an additional report with them.

Can you sue an airline for lost luggage? How?

Yes, you can sue an airline for lost luggage, but it must be within reason.

It is important to read each airline carrier’s contract as some will have strict rules and regulations regarding receiving compensation over lost/damaged/delayed luggage.

If you feel there was a violation in the airline carriers’ contract and with the service they provided you, you can always hire an attorney. Some questions to keep in mind as you ask your attorney are:

  • What can I do to show what was in my misplaced luggage and how much it was worth?
  • Is traveler’s insurance or other luggage insurance tax deductible? Is it necessary for me to declare insurance payments on my tax return?
  • Is the airline carriers’ contract in compliance with the service they provided you?

3 Best Luggage Tracking GPS for You

GPS trackers have expanded quite vastly and now can track your luggage. This is the best way to help accurately locate your luggage anywhere you go without the hassle of an airline carrier report/claim. Listed here are three of the best and top-rated luggage trackers:

  •  TRAKDOT LUGGAGE TRACKER – The Trakdot creates ground-breaking products that enable individuals to keep track of the people and things they care about.

Trakdot delivers creative solutions that fulfill worldwide demand by providing cutting-edge patent-protected technology at a fantastic value.

The world’s first luggage monitoring solution with global location reporting always keeps you in touch with your goods.

  • LUG LOC TRACKER– Through a user-friendly smartphone app, the tracker allows you to locate your belongings while traveling.

Simply place the device lug loc luggage and bag tracking inside your bag, and the mobile app will show you the mapping location of your bag in real-time. 

Whether you’re traveling for work, pleasure, or to transport valuables. It is travel-ready and can fit in any size bag.

  • TILE SLIME MATE- Tile Slim is the simplest, fastest, and most dependable way to locate your wallet, phone, and other valuables.

Tile Slim is as thin as two credit cards and can be slid, tucked, or attached to anything you want.  

It can be attached to a notebook, laptop, or tablet. It can also be put inside a small pocket, such as a jacket pocket or a wallet.

They also provide an app that helps you locate your device. The tile slime mate will send signals out to any device you have it linked to and make a noise, regardless of if your device is on silent or not.

Lost Luggage FAQ Answered

Yes, travel insurance will help cover any items you lost due to traveling. These reimbursement fees cover lost luggage and any items inside the luggage. When purchasing travel insurance, it is important to make sure you select baggage coverage and to list all items within your baggage.

Property Irregularity Report, also known as (PIR) is a reference number that is given to each bag. This number has ten letters and numbers combined and can be found above your name on the PIR receipt you use to check in your baggage. This unique code directly helps you and airlines trace your delayed, lost or damaged luggage.

The baggage file reference number will be found above your name on the PIR receipt given to you. The number will have a combination of letters and numbers. You can show this number to any airline employee, and they will help direct you to find your baggage.

Checking in with your airline to locate your luggage or register a claim is a simple process. With the details from your flight, you may also trace your luggage online. Simply go to the website for your flight, key in your name and either your bag tag number or your file reference number, and your bag will be located.