Have you ever showed up to baggage claim, only to find out your luggage is lost? We’ve had a couple near misses, and our luggage was stolen out of car on our honeymoon but we haven’t ever lost our luggage while flying. KNOCK ON WOOD!!! It has definitely crossed my mind though, usually as we are impatiently waiting for our luggage to appear.
Losing luggage is a traveler’s worst fear because no matter the length or reason for your trip, you NEED your stuff. At least some of it. There are many possibilities when it comes to lost luggage, including the chance that it was misdirected, it missed a connection, it was damaged and destroyed, stolen or even mistakenly picked up by another traveler.
In fact, my dad recently did this. Yes I am totally “outing” him on the internet. 😉 Unfortunately, he didn’t realize it until several hours later when he went to unpack. He then hustled back to the airport to exchange bags. The airline told my dad the guy was almost in tears when they couldn’t find his bag, and I believe it. I would be too.
Before You Travel
The best, and only way, to prepare yourself for lost luggage is to pack a carry on with a days worth of essentials. I don’t usually do this for myself but do try to bring a change of clothes for the boys. I should be better about carrying a few toiletries including my glasses though, wearing my contact lenses for longer than 16 hours never works out well! If traveling for business, any essential work items should be carried on the plane. Peter always carries his laptop and work documentation in his carry-on.
Smart Luggage Identification
In addition to preparing yourself, it’s a good idea to prepare your luggage for the possibility of getting lost. Quick identification of your luggage is key and it may prevent another traveler (ahem DAD) from picking up your bag and will also make it easier for airline staff to find it. When so many pieces of luggage are similar looking, a bright, personalized luggage tag is a great identifier for both the airline and other travelers with similar bags. Make sure your contact information is clearly visible. I also recommend including your name inside the luggage as well (in case the tag gets damaged).
These unique luggage tags would certainly stand out, although I’m not sure a gun shaped luggage tag is really appropriate. You could also use a fun luggage strap or attach a ribbon to the handle of your suitcase to help distinguish your bag.
Notify Airline Staff Immediately
As soon as you suspect that your luggage is missing, notify the airline staff immediately. Sometimes bags come in on earlier flights or are hanging out in weird corner of baggage claim (we’ve had both happen to us). If your luggage is truly missing you need to follow the airline’s instructions for filing a missing luggage report and ask for a copy of the report. Try to stay calm, freaking out doesn’t help anyone and I am sure it wouldn’t endear your cause to the airline staff. Make sure you give them multiple ways to contact you (email/phone numbers, etc) and get the name & number of an airline contact you can follow-up with.
Know The Airline’s Policy
Some airlines will provide compensation to help you purchase a few essentials, it could be cash up front or a reimbursement later, so save your receipts. Check with your airline for specifics on their policy. The airline must deliver your luggage to you at no additional cost and refund any baggage fees you paid.
Don’t Drop The Ball
Make sure you follow-up with the airline. If you luggage isn’t found promptly you will need to provide a list (likely on a more detailed form) with a list of your luggage contents. Airlines can limit your reimbursement to $3,300 per passenger on domestic flights. Snapping a quick picture with your phone while packing would really help in this unfortunate situation. Always remember to be calm and kind when dealing with airline employees, they are trying to help and aren’t likely personally responsible for your lost luggage. This is definitely a situation where you catch more flies with honey…
When you are ready to buy new luggage, consider buying a unique looking bag. I received this super fun floral print American Tourister bag for Disney Social Media Moms and it definitely stands out among the sea of suitcases at baggage claim.
*This post contains amazon affiliate links, thanks for helping support my diet coke habit.