The door to the baggage carousel has closed and your luggage is nowhere to be seen. You feel the pit in your stomach begin to grow and the fear that your bag is lost forever. I know it’s hard but try not to worry! I help people in these situations (and have been in them myself) all the time. Take some deep breaths and follow these tips when your luggage doesn’t show up with you.
Check In With the Baggage Service Office/Desk
First things first, check in with your airline’s Baggage Service Agent. Every airport is different but there will always be someone there to help you with your luggage woes. Make sure you ask if that was all of the bags from the flight. If it’s a smaller airport they may have had to do more than one bag run and your bag could be on it’s way. (yay!) There are also cases where your bag may have arrived before you and is waiting for you in the office. Working in the baggage office I’ve had bags arrive hours before their owners because they were routed in a different way. These are best case scenarios but there are times when your bag just didn’t make it on any flights. When this happens it’s time to fill out a delayed bag file.
A delayed baggage claim alerts the airline to look for delayed luggage. The airline will use this information to hunt down your luggage and get it to you as quickly as they can. The attendant at the bag service office will ask you questions in order to complete this form, try to have it as accurate as possible. A couple of things in mind:
Make it as easy as possible for the airline to reunite you with your bag. Think carefully about the delivery address. Are you going to be at that address for the next few days? Is there a place to leave your bag if you aren’t there? (Think front desk at a hotel, front porch at your home.) Do you want your bag held at the airport and you can pick it up? That may be the best idea if you are staying at an Airbnb type place.
I seldom answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number but it’s important to have a number on file. The agent may need to call to confirm your address, delivery instructions or to let you know you can pick up your bag.
This is also an important contact to share. If you are traveling in a foreign country where there may be a language barrier or you don’t have great phone service email is an easier way to communicate.
Remember, if you are moving on to your next destination and have still not seen your bag be sure to update your address. The baggage service agent gets their information from your claim, so if you were in Paris and are now heading to Lyon you need to update the address on file.
Take A Picture Of Your Claim
Paperwork can get lost so easily, so make sure that you take a picture of your copy of the claim. There is usually important information on there for you, like phone numbers or websites and a file number for your claim that you can plug in to get updates. While we’re at it, make sure you take a picture of your luggage claim sticker too. You know that small little sticker that they give you at check in after they take your bag? It is super important and helps when you are in situations like this. Take a picture of it with your cell right at check in just in case you misplace it.
Ask How To Get Updates
Ask the agent at baggage claim how you can check for updates on your delayed luggage. There is usually a website or a number to call. (on that paperwork that you are taking a picture of) If you are super nice to the agent they may even give you the number to their office. That way you can get updates from someone nearby if you haven’t seen your bag for a couple days.
Find Out What The Airline Will Reimburse
More likely than not you need to buy some essentials, like toiletries and clothing. But before you run out and buy a whole new wardrobe on your vacation it’s a good idea to find out what the reimbursement policy is for the airline. I know that Delta will reimburse you for reasonable expenses, usually around $50 a day. Before you leave the baggage service office, ask the agent whether the airline will reimburse you for the essentials you buy while your luggage is delayed. You can also check the airline’s website.
Make sure you keep all of your receipts and take pictures of them as well. It is so much easier to get your reimbursement when you are prepared with all of your documentation.
Submit A Reimbursement Request
Once you’ve been reunited with your luggage, make sure you get reimbursed for the costs you incurred while your luggage was delayed. This is going to be easy peasy because you have kept all of your receipts and taken pictures of said receipts. Go to the airline’s website, complete the reimbursement form and submit copies of your receipts. Make sure you do this is a timely manner, some airlines have limits on how long they will accept this request.
If Your Luggage Never Shows Up
It’s rare, but unfortunately it does happen. Airlines do lose luggage and it’s a bummer. If that happens, you’ll need to submit a lost luggage claim with the airline and they will most likely give you some sort of reimbursement. These range in different amounts depending on the airline but it seems to be between $1500-$2000.
The number one thing to do when your luggage is delayed is to stay calm. It can be such a frustrating experience but I hope these tips help!