You have just spent the past 6 hours on the plane. You are tired, and want to get your luggage and go to your hotel to rest. 30 minutes go by and you are still standing at the baggage claim, yet you have not claimed your baggage because you canâ€™t find it â€“ only to discover that your luggage is missing!
Breathe! Don't run up and down the terminal yelling at everyone who comes in your way â€“ the best thing you can do is remain calm and approach this in an organized (and dignified) manner.
Where do I go to claim lost luggage? Who can help me find my missing suitcase? What happens if my baggage is never found? These are all excellent questions, and hopefully we can help you answer them!
Lost Luggage Facts
Less than 1% of luggage actually remains lost for over 60 days, so even though it is not in your possession there is an excellent chance that it will be found. Your luggage will not be considered officially lost (unsalvageable) until 90 days are up, at which time the airliner must declare the piece(s) lost in order to comply with FAA regulations. Unfortunately this process may drag a little, but at least people will be looking for it for a full 90 days.
Here is how you can file the claim that could just save your luggage's lifeâ€¦
How to File a Claim for Lost Baggage
Report your problem immediately
The Department of Transportation suggests you do this within one day of knowing your luggage is lost, it can take as long as a week for the airline to classify it as "lost." In other cases it can take as long as a month (worst case scenario) depending on the circumstances surrounding the missing item, such as missing baggage claim tickets, etc. Ultimately it is in your best interest to make sure your airliner knows as soon as possible.
The airline you were on last is the one who is responsible
This obviously only comes into play if you had to travel with 2 or more airlines that day. Even if the first carrier is the one who lost your luggage, it is still the last carrier's responsibility to process your report.
Do not take an employeeâ€™s word for it
It can be easy to assume that one of the employees knows the exact policy for handling a luggage claim, but don't! A lot of times they do not know the policy word for word, and can mislead you (unknowingly, of course). That can result in a tougher time for you since youâ€™re making decisions based off of inaccurate information. so ask to speak with someone directly who can inform you of the exact policy you need to follow and the policy the company follows for your claim.
Compile a list of all the items in your luggage
This one is very important since you will need to fill out a second form just for this step alone. This form can delay the entire process of your claim for lost luggage if it is not filled out and â€“ worse â€“ the airline will not replace your items unless you provide matching accounts.
Many airlines will only repay you in cash at a depreciated value, so it is important you remember everything you had in that bag as well as how much each item was worth. Donâ€™t forget to claim the lost suitcase as a part of the missing items! This is the most common mistake that people make when claiming lost baggage, and believe me when I say that most airliners are not in a hurry to reimburse you for items you forget to list on the claim form.
The maximum an airline is required to pay you is $2,800 (domestic flight) and $1,500 (international flight). It can take anywhere from six weeks up to three months to receive payment from the airline.
Do not wait for them to contact you
Stay on top of the airline and make sure they do not relax the situation. Let them know that this is very important to you and you want them to be doing all they can to help you while remaining calm and polite! They will be willing to help you more if you cooperate and keep a pleasant tone â€“ remember that these are people who deal with angry customers all day!
Can My Credit Card Company Help Me with Lost Luggage?
Another quick tip, if it turns out you have not found your luggage check with your credit card company. Many times they offer some sort of lost luggage replacement with your card; this offer is contingent upon your usage of the card while you were on your trip, so youâ€™ll want to check with your local customer service representative before your trip to see what you need to do to qualify.
Lost Baggage Contact Numbers for Major Airliners
Your Credit Network Contributor