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How to deal with baggage lost, delayed or damaged by the airline?

Updated on May 24, 2016

Lost bags? It can happen to any one.

Statistics shows that a small percentage of luggage are lost by airlines every year. Lost or damaged luggage is a problem which most frequent traveller face at some point of time. If your are traveling alone to unknown city and airline delay or lose you baggage it could be a major annoyance. Many do not know how to properly deal with it.



Reasons For Delayed or Lost Bags

The big reasons for delay or loss of a luggage are transfer mishandling or failure to load.  They can be avoided if the passenger checks in time.
The big reasons for delay or loss of a luggage are transfer mishandling or failure to load. They can be avoided if the passenger checks in time. | Source

Lost bags - How to deal with it?

Airlines lose a small percentage of bags every year, make sure yours is not there.
Airlines lose a small percentage of bags every year, make sure yours is not there. | Source

What to do when your luggage is lost by airline?

If your baggage does not show up on the belt than contact airline's baggage office and give them the number of your baggage check tags. Normally they can track this online and inform you the location of your luggage if it is delayed. In case of delay or presumed loss you need to fill out a report which is known as a property irregularity report or PIR. You will be required to give accurate details of your luggage, its contents and other information needed by the airline. At this point keep a copy of the report along with tickets and luggage tag for future reference.

Airlines are liable to compensate for lost or delayed luggage however they may give you a hard time in providing you claim. The amount of the claim may vary. The maximum amount of compensation for domestic flight within the USA is $3300 and for international flight $635 per lost bag. Please check the airline’s website for information about it. Most airlines are required by law to provide compensation for lost, delayed or damaged luggage but to get that you need to be persistent in follow up.

In case of delayed luggage all airlines provide reimbursement for emergency purchase of clothes and toiletries for a reasonable amount. Ask about the limits of compensation and keep receipts of all things that you buy.

In case of damaged bag report to airline. In most cases they will replace with bag of same size and quality. If the damage has something to do with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) file a report with airline service desk or call 866-289-9673

Lost Luggage Counter

The lost luggage counter is the first place to look for bags if you do not find them on the belt.
The lost luggage counter is the first place to look for bags if you do not find them on the belt. | Source

Did airline ever lost or delayed your luggage?

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Trends in Lost or Damaged Bags

Mishandled baggages are less over the years, whereas the passenger traffic is increasing every year.
Mishandled baggages are less over the years, whereas the passenger traffic is increasing every year. | Source
Long term trends show that passenger are losing less bags over the years.
Long term trends show that passenger are losing less bags over the years. | Source

How to file a claim for lost baggage?

Although baggage go missing sometimes, only 2% of them are permanently lost. Most bags will be found within a few hours and delivered free to your forwarding address. In case of lost baggage airline must compensate according to terms of the carriage. You may be required to produce receipts of all valuables that are lost along with replacement cloths and toiletries bought by you while it was presumed delayed.

Once you have filed report for loss of baggage do follow up your claims with persistence. Keep record of interaction made with airline by call or email.

In case of lost luggage:

  1. File claim immediately as most airline require you to file claim with in two to seven days.
  2. Fill up PIR form. Get customer service phone number and other contact details.
  3. Give them list the contents of the baggage and a description of the bags, if needed.
  4. Keep all receipts of emergency purchase that you made after filing claim
  5. Give your forwarding address and phone number to airline and take their customer service number. Do keep copies of tickets, boarding pass, baggage tag and PIR form.

Baggage Tag

Baggage tag (normally) stuck at the back of your boarding card will be needed for claiming loss
Baggage tag (normally) stuck at the back of your boarding card will be needed for claiming loss | Source

Sample PIR form

PIR form
PIR form

Steps in filing PIR for major airlines.

  1. KLM - PIR to be filed within 5 days either at airport or online
  2. American Airlines - Inform American Airline before leaving the airport and obtain a file locator ID along with the brochure explaining recovery process.
  3. Delta - File claim at arrival, Fill out and mail property loss claim form if the bags are not received within 5 days.
  4. Lufthansa - Inform Lufthansa baggage tracking desk, obtain a written confirmation with a reference number.
  5. Virgin Atlantic - Immediately report to ground staff and fill out the PIR form.
  6. British Airways - Report at the airport and obtain baggage file 12 digit reference number.
  7. Emirates - Report at the airport, file PIR and obtain a unique reference number for online tracking of your bags.


Luggage straps to secure bags
Luggage straps to secure bags

How to prevent luggage being lost or damaged?

"Prevention is better than cure" Loss or delayed luggage can't always be prevented but one may reduce the chance of happening it first. Here are some of the things you can do.

  • Write contact information inside as well out side of bags so that in case luggage is found it can be sent to your address.
  • Remove old luggage tags from bag. Old luggage tags or information may cause bags to be misrouted to its previous destination.
  • Use an easy to identify colourful luggage straps along with name tags to identify your luggage on belt so that other people do not pick up your luggage by accident. Thieves are less likely to steal a luggage that stands out.
  • Check in early if you can. It will give ample of time for luggage to reach airplane. Most common cause of delayed baggage is late check in or limited time during connecting flight.
  • If you are going away for a couple of days try not to check in you bags all together. It will save you time that you spend while checking in or claiming luggage. Please check with airline about maximum weight that is allowed as cabin luggage. Also ensure that you do not carry any sharp object or liquid over 100 ml in bottle that may be stopped by airport security.

Source

Last Minutes Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Kiosk
Travel Insurance Kiosk | Source

More tips for comfortable air travel

  • If you are traveling with partner swap some of cloths so that if one of the luggage is lost then you still have some cloths for the rest of the trip.
  • Most of overseas travel insurance or Platinum credit cards come with some kind of baggage insurance so check with your issuer. It is much easier to get compensation from insurance company than airline.
  • If you plan to check in luggage than keep your valuables, a spare set of cloths, valuables, travel documents and prescription medicine in cabin luggage.

Traveling With a Partner

If you are travelling with a partner swap some of your items.
If you are travelling with a partner swap some of your items. | Source

Be persistant - Do not give up

Dealing with lost luggage is hard work that requires persistent follow up with airline. Most airline company are reluctant to offer adequate compensation so keep following up by email / call or means. Keep complete trail of communication and paperworks. If you do not get satisfactory response take it up with baggage department head or PR department.

If airline avoid giving compensation for your loss even after follow up consider filing a claim with the Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Office or small claim court.

Keep trying, Do not give up

Don't give up
Don't give up | Source

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© 2013 Kamal Mohta

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