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What to Do if Items are Missing From Your Checked Luggage

Updated on November 23, 2010

What happened to your expensive wrist watch?


There is a special reason why the Transportation Security Administration warns travelers to never place jewelry, cash or electronics into checked luggage. The reasons behind this warning are pretty obvious: the luggage can go amiss, or worse, some items may be stolen from the luggage in the process of being moved on and off the plane. If you just came home from a trip and just noticed that your favorite piece of jewelry or expensive wristwatch went missing in action, you must act quickly and know who to report in regards to your stolen goods.

Balanzza Ergonomic and Digital Luggage Scale, 5 Years, Up To 44 Kilogram/100 Lbs
Balanzza Ergonomic and Digital Luggage Scale, 5 Years, Up To 44 Kilogram/100 Lbs

Weigh your luggage before check in. Just lift, wait for the beep, and read the weight.


What to do if Something is Stolen from Your Checked Luggage

Countless people learn the hard way that valuables, money and expensive electronics should always be placed in carry on baggage. However, in real life this is often not easy, especially if your items are bulky, too heavy and uncomfortable to carry along with you on your flight. So if worse comes to worse, and you come home from your trip and find your checked luggage tampered with items missing, what should you do?

The first step is to check if the luggage has a slip of paper from the TSA claiming it was inspected. If this is the case, you know you will have to file a claim with TSA.  Arm yourself with patience though, even if TSA will try its best to get the claim processed quickly it can take anywhere from 60 days up to six months or more, depending on many factors.

If there was no slip of paper from the TSA, then you would have to file directly with the airlines. You would have to act quickly though as many airlines give you only 48 hours after landing to file a claim. It is best therefore to try to contact the airline directly by phone for instruction on how to claim. If you are missing electronics or valuables, it would also be a good idea to contact the airport's law enforcement office at  your departure and arrival airport to report stolen goods.

Keep in mind though that  most airlines  will not compensate you for the loss of some kinds of valuables such as money and jewelry. This is why such items should never be placed in the checked luggage in the first place. You may though consider purchasing extra insurance, it doesn't hurt to inquire about this option.

Often passengers wonder: how can their items be stolen? An insider look at what happens to luggage before it hops onto the carousel can help understand. Often, luggage may get damaged and eventually open in the process. If this is the case, you will likely notice that your luggage is damaged and that some of your goods slipped out. If this is the case, you can go straight to baggage claim and file a claim for damaged luggage and claim for your missing goods. A good place to look is also the airport's lost and found.

If instead your luggage appears in good shape but you notice something is missing only once home, there are good chances it could have been stolen in the process of embarking or disembarking from the plane. Dishonest employees may likely be the culprit. It may sound unbelievable, but there are many stories of baggage handlers being arrested on charges for stealing electronics, cameras and other products from the luggage of passengers.  Keep your valuables or electronics safe: leave them safely at home or place them in your carry on baggage keeping a good eye on it for the whole duration of your flight.

Master Lock Padlock, Keyed TSA-Accepted Luggage Lock, 7/8 in. Wide, 4683Q (Pack of 4)
Master Lock Padlock, Keyed TSA-Accepted Luggage Lock, 7/8 in. Wide, 4683Q (Pack of 4)

The locks are TSA-approved, allowing airport security screeners to inspect and relock baggage without damaging the locks. Solid brass construction ensures optimal security and rust-resistance.



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    • ftclick profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes it can be lost, stolen or damaged but wouldn't travel insurance cover this or part of it? I just can't understand that if it is small (like a watch) and expensive why take the chance and check it in?

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Excellent hub my great writer friend...this happened to me and it was a nightmare, and it happen at the New York airport which was know as the luggage theft capital. Yes, I don't fly anymore but this is a real issue that is happening behind the sceens....Love this hub and rate up


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