You get to the baggage carousel at your destination and wait for your suitcase to come down the conveyor belt. You watch as every other passenger from your flight picks up their bags from the carousel and leaves. Soon, there are no bags left. Yours is missing.
What happens next?
Reporting missing luggage
When you’ve figured out that your bags are missing, you should go to the airline’s baggage desk. Let the representative know that your bag hasn’t arrived and file a missing baggage report. They can use their tracking system to find where your checked bag is located. Once the baggage desk representative locates your bag, they will arrange to move it onto an upcoming flight to your current destination.
Asking for amenities
After filing your missing baggage report, you should ask the representative if they have any amenities. They may offer you an amenity kit, which typically includes basic toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. They may offer you vouchers or coupons for shops in the airport to help you purchase essentials. Check to see what they offer.
You may need to replace some essentials using your own funds. It could take days to get your bags back. In that case, you’ll need to buy clothes, toiletries, medications and possibly even tech that you would’ve had in your suitcase.
Tap into your emergency fund for these payments. If you don’t have an emergency fund, you may want to use your credit card or try applying for a loan by phone to help you. If you’re approved for the loan, you could use the borrowed funds to cover the essentials in a short amount of time.
Make sure to keep copies of receipts for all of these purchases. They will be necessary later.
Then, you have to wait for an update from the baggage desk. They will contact you to let you know whether they’ve located your bags. If your trip involved multiple connecting flights, it’s very likely that your bag is sitting in one of the previous airports you stopped in. You could be reunited with your bag in 24 hours.
It’s possible for the baggage desk to have difficulty locating your bag. They will typically wait 1-3 weeks before declaring it officially lost. After that, you should expect it to remain missing.
If you’ve received your delayed bag, your next step is to seek compensation. You can present your receipts for essentials that you purchased while waiting for your bags. If your bag is lost, you can seek compensation for the essentials you purchased during your wait and for the valuables that went missing in your bag.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the maximum liability that domestic airlines can offer passengers for delayed and lost bags is $3,800. The maximum liability for international flights is approximately $1,780.
You can also look at your travel insurance and credit card plan to see if you have any coverage for delayed or lost baggage. This could help you recover from the financial loss.
If you ever encounter this stressful situation when you’re traveling, you’ll know exactly what steps to take.