Although luggage bags at airlines go missing quite often, only a small percentage of all checked baggage is permanently lost. Most bags will be found within a few hours and if it takes longer, the airline will deliver it to you by courier. However, in the event that you become separated from your bag, there are steps you can take to locate it.
If your baggage turns up missing while you are flying to your destination, the following steps will help when making a claim:
Lost Baggage: If your baggage is lost while in transit, you should report the loss to the airline carrier. If your bag does not show up on the baggage carousel, immediately go the airline's baggage office or window. Give the window clerk your baggage stubs. Retain your receipts for all replacement of items purchased together with the baggage check tags and remaining portions of your flight tickets.
Baggage Delay: In the event that your baggage is delayed in transit while on your journey, report the delay immediately to the airline and obtain a property irregularity report (PIR.) You will also need to supply evidence of the length of the baggage delay.
What must an airline do?
All airlines are liable for compensation if baggage is delayed or damaged due to their own negligence but this liability doesn't include fragile articles, liquids, or perishable items.
The clerk at the baggage claim window will track your bag using your luggage stubs. If there are no results, the clerk will send baggage workers to try to locate your luggage. It is important that you can describe your baggage.
If the airline still cannot locate your baggage, you will have to fill out a baggage claim form where you will have to list the contents of the baggage and a description of the bags. You must provide contact information and an address, so if they do find it, they can deliver it to you. Make sure you keep a copy of the claim form.
A little extra care can keep your bags safe while you travel
- The airlines have upgraded baggage tracking technology so reuniting you with your misplaced bags is much quicker and easier. As a passenger, you can take certain precautions that can help the airlines return items you leave on a plane or get your bags back to you quickly. As you pack, follow these tips:
- If you must travel with expensive items, you can buy excess valuation coverage on the spot at the ticket counter or check with your insurance company before you start your trip.
- Keep prescriptions, travel documents (especially UPC stubs for your checked bags), cash, and jewelry with you as you travel. Buy a bag or money belt to hide your valuables.
- Buy a suitcase with a slide-in window for additional identification (since attached bag tags can be easily torn off) and ensure the address information on your bag tag is up-to-date.
- Tie a colored ribbon on your bag. Consider putting additional identification inside your bag along with a copy of your itinerary to help the airlines know if they should send your bags to your travel destination or your home.
- Put your name and address on every bag. Due to stricter bag limits, carry-on suitcases and bags you've managed to get on board in the past may now need to be checked.
If the airline cannot find your baggage, contents compensation varies by airline so ask the airline what they will reimburse or replace. Unfortunately, lost baggage does happen. By taking the appropriate precautions and knowing what to do in the event of lost luggage, you will be prepared to deal with the situation.
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