What to do when you've lost your luggage, and how to avoid it in the first place

Ever had that dreaded feeling when you’ve lost your luggage while travelling? Maybe you’re feeling it right now, or perhaps you’re wanting to ensure you never have to. The fact is, it happens all the time - and most of the time it’s at no fault of our own.

If you have found yourself in this situation, or simply want to know what do in case it does happen, here’s what you should know.

If your baggage is delayed

If you haven’t been able to spot your bags at baggage claim and your airline ends up telling you your luggage is delayed - don’t panic. (We know, easy to say, hard to do). The things is, almost all airlines have ways to track bags, so more often than not - luggage is generally returned safely to their owners.

Either way, make sure to file your claim immediately at the baggage claim kiosk. Give the attendant the address you’ll be staying at, and a contact phone number to reach you on. Ensure you note down the reference number for your claim so that you can follow up on your bag’s status.

It’s also important to keep your baggage tag with you - which should be a barcode sticker that is normally attached to your boarding pass. This tag helps identify which bags are yours.

Most airlines will deliver your luggage when it’s found, and will reimburse any unexpected expenses caused by the loss or delay. So make sure to keep the receipts of your items for proof of purchase!

If your luggage is lost

If your airline declares your bag is ‘lost’ you’ll want to make a written claim for damages which can either be done online or at the airport. In some instances, if your bag is lost for more than 24 hours, certain airlines are required to compensate travellers with a clothing allowance.

Enquire about your airline’s policy for lost luggage as you may be entitled to compensation. The exact claims process varies by airline so check your carrier’s website for specifics on reimbursement rates for domestic and international flights.

If your bag is stolen

If you’ve come to the realisation that your bag has been stolen after you’ve left the baggage claim area, your claim is no longer with the airline, but with the police. Contact the police to report your stolen luggage and check if your home insurance covers a stolen suitcase. If not, you should seriously consider getting travel insurance.

Tips to help prevent lost luggage

Of course, the best way to handle lost luggage, is to try to prevent it in the first place. Here’s a few tips that can help avoid the stress of losing your bags.

  • Put your name and contact information on both the outside and inside of your luggage.
  • Try to avoid booking flights with short connections. If you don’t have much time to catch your connecting flight, chances are, the baggage crew -       won’t have enough time to transfer them to your next flight.
  • Avoid checking your bags in last minute. Always check your bag in well before the cut off time to ensure your bag has enough time to clear security screening and to be put onboard the plane.
  • Keep your baggage tag on you at all times in case your bag does get lost.
  • Remove any old baggage tags from your luggage so that airline staff don’t get your destination mixed up.
  • Keep receipts for proof of purchase if you need to claim compensation for lost luggage.
  • Pack some essentials in your carry-on bags to keep you going for at least 24 hours, if your bag does get lost.
  • Get travel insurance! Getting insurance will give you peace of mind knowing that you’ll recoup any losses from lost luggage.

For more travel tips and advice, head to our travel Blog.