Lost, delayed, damaged luggage. What do I do?

Lost, delayed, damaged luggage. What do I do?

During our trip by plane, we always worry that our luggage will get lost. It is normal to take care of this, but often we worry in vain. In any cases it is good to know what to do if this unpleasant fact will happen.
If you arrive at your destination and your luggage is lost, delayed or damaged, rest assured that the airport service for such situation and the airline will do everything to assist you and to deliver your baggage as soon as possible. Check your airline’s website for specifics. Here are some steps you should take in case of:

1. Lost luggage. If you cannot find your luggage on arrival:
– You should go to the Lost and Found offices situated in the airport (or Baggage Claim desk), also get in touch with the airline’s representative at the airport, if there is any (in case there is no airline’s office you should contact the airline via telephone, e-mail or online) in order to report the luggage loss. You’ll have to fill in a Property Irregularity Report (P.I.R.) – a report to describe your bag in detail, along with your contact information and delivery address. You will be given a copy of the report and a case reference number.  Keep the document for online tracking of your luggage (baggage Tracking Number that can be used to check online the status of your lost/delayed baggage). You can check if the airline offers this option here or use the Global baggage tracer system  World Tracer. Also, it is advisable to contact the airport police.
The passengers that are not resident of the city, will receive a kit containing some basic necessities including toiletries. If your luggage is not found nor returned to you within 45 days after your P.I.R., you can consider it lost.
The airlines have a list of items for which they will not be responsible, such as money, documents, jewelry, heirlooms and other valuables items that should be packed in your carry-on bag or left home.
When your luggage is found: The airline /airport will notify you as soon as your luggage is found and deliver it to the address you provided, subject to local customs regulations. Alternatively, you may collect your luggage from the airport (it can be at airline’s office).
When your luggage is not found:  If your luggage is still not located, you’ll have to file a claim. You’ll need to do the following:
– fill up the Baggage Claim Form provided when the report was made
–  send the above form with all supporting documentation by e-mail, post, fax (the contacts are listed on the form), or to the nearest airline’s office.
If you incurred expenses being without your luggage, you must submit a written claim for reimbursement within 21 days of the luggage delivery date. You may also submit your claim online, check airline’s website. An airline’s representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible via the contact information you have provided.
In this case, you should include the following documents:
– a signed brief but detailed letter including your mailing address, phone number, and e-mail
– a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (P.I.R.) issued by the Lost & Found office
– your electronic ticket and boarding card
– luggage tag
– copies of receipts of expenses for necessities purchased being without luggage
Remember:  If during 21 days your luggage is not found, you can ask for compensation. You may need to bring receipts to prove the value of items you had in your lost luggage. If you have them, include copies in any documentation you send to the airline. Unfortunately, you will be reimbursed for the depreciated value of your items —  the airline won’t refund you the full amount.

2. Stolen Bags
There are situations when the luggage arrived but you cannot find it on the baggage carousel. It means that the luggage is stolen or someone took it by mistake. Many airlines scan bags when they’re loaded into the baggage claim area and keep records. If your luggage goes missing after you’ve left the baggage claim area, your claim is no longer with the airline, but with the airport police. If you have travel insurance that covers stolen baggage, then you can stay quiet.
Remember, always try to minimize the time you get off from the plane until the baggage carousel.

3. Delayed Luggage
If your luggage is delayed do not to panic. All we know the unpleasant feeling to stay in the front of the baggage carousel while your luggage does not appear.  You should stay calm, the airlines have ways to track them, and the majority of misplaced luggage is returned eventually. This can happen when you have a schedule change in your flight or in case of late check-in. If your bags are on the next flight, you will receive them in a few hours. If they’ve been sent to the wrong airport, it could take some days. Make sure to file your claim immediately at the airport at Lost and Found offices (Baggage claim desk) and give your contact details, like hotel or home address, as well as a phone number where you can be reached. Also, inform the airline about the luggage delay.
In most of the cases, the airline will bring you the luggage when it is found; you will rarely need to return to the airport to pick it up. Many airlines will reimburse any expenses caused by the loss or delay, so keep your receipts.
Before you leave the airport, get a reference number for your claim and check the status of your delayed luggage:  some airlines have an online system while others will provide you with a phone number to call for updates.
You can check your delayed baggage status online using the Global baggage tracer system  World Tracer along with your case reference number, specified in your P.I.R. received at Lost and Found offices at the airport.

4. Damaged Baggage
Once you’ve received your luggage from the baggage carousel, immediately check them for damage or other signs of mishandling. Report any damage before leaving the airport:  go to Lost & Found office and the airline. The customer service agents will inspect the luggage and let you know if it can be repaired. Most airlines won’t cover a minor damage. Some airlines will give you a coupon towards the purchase of its tickets or a new piece of luggage with the same characteristics as the one that was damaged from a catalog, which will be delivered to your home (sometimes, the new baggage will be given to you directly at the airport).
For any repairs, you will need to produce a receipt, or required to use airline-sanctioned luggage repair vendors. Ask at Baggage claim desk or airline for this information, because you can find out that you’ve paid for a repair that isn’t covered.
If you are still not satisfied with the options offered by the airline or your luggage cannot be repaired, you can ask the airline for other options by sending the following documentation to the nearest airline’s office or online  within 7 days after you have filed the P.I.R. or 21 days after having received your luggage and the damage was identified following a delayed delivery:
– a signed brief but detailed letter including your mailing address, phone number, and e-mail along with your bank details
– the Damage Property Report (D.P.R.) issued by the Lost & Found office
– your electronic ticket and boarding card
– luggage tag
– evidence of damage like photos showing the baggage damage
– a written declaration of the type of damage from a specialized store, only if the damage was caused by delayed delivery
– the airline will be in touch with you via the contact information you have provided.

5. Missing items  from your luggage
If you find out that there is something missing from your luggage, go immediately to the airport Lost & Found office for assistance, you will have to fill in a Property Irregularity Report (P.I.R.) and send it within 7 days to the airline’s nearest office (or in the airport, if there is any airline’s representative) or online, or 21 days after having received your delayed luggage and there are  missing items. Inform the police also. You will attach the following documentation:
– a signed brief but detailed letter including your mailing address, phone number, and e-mail along with your bank details
– the P.I.R. issued by the Lost & Found office
– your electronic ticket and boarding card
– luggage tag
– a detailed list of  items that you have declared missing or damaged, with evidence of the damage (like photos)
– if you have receipts of purchase of missing items, you can include them
– a copy of your filed Police report of items declared missing

6. Items left onboard, lounge, airport
If you’ve left items on the plane, in the lounge or at the airport get in touch with airport Lost & Found office as soon as possible or you can submit a request to the airline.

Important to remember:
The claim deadline is different and is depending on what happened to your luggage:
– damaged luggage: from the moment you have completed the flight, contact airline within 7 days
– items in your bag that are missing or damaged: from the moment you have completed the flight inform the airline company within 7 days.
– delayed or missing baggage: you should make a claim within 21 days from the day the flight arrives.
– luggage declared officially lost after 21 days: you should contact the airline company as soon as possible after this.
– report any issue related to your luggage to your airline straight away – don’t leave the airport without visiting the Lost & Found office (Baggage claim desk). You will receive a copy of the Property Irregularity Report (P.I.R) along with the baggage Tracking Number that can be used to check online the status of your lost/delayed baggage: here or on  World Tracer system.  In some small airports may not be available baggage claim desk and you should ask an airport or ailirne’s representative to confirm in writing this fact.
You’re still entitled to make a claim without the PIR but it’ll be harder work.
– insurance: you can purchase an insurance that covers the luggage loss. In this case, you should submit a request to your travel insurance policy, which may provide you insurance coverage.
– if your bag is lost, stolen or damaged, be sure to file a complaint immediately. If you still can’t get satisfaction, or feel the need to report the airline, contact the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division
– if you’re wondering where lost bags go after they die, the answer is: UnclaimedBaggage.com

Extra tips. How to Prevent lost luggage:
1. Put your name and contact details, such as phone number, e-mail a copy of your itinerary outside and inside of each checked luggage so the airline can locate you and contact you immediately.
2. If you make a packing list before you travel, keep it. It is an easy way to remember everything you put into your luggage when the airline asks what was in your luggage,  so you won’t forget anything of value.
3. Pack all valuables in your carry-on bags or leave them home. Never keep in your checked luggage:  money, cameras, computers, medication, heirlooms, jewelry, passports and important travel documents. Fragile or perishable items should not be carried in checked luggage as well.
4. Put in carry-on bag essential things: like a change of clothes, medication etc. to have some of your belongings in case checked luggage is delayed.
5. At the check-in desk, make sure that the airline representative attaches the correct tag to every checked luggage.
6. The most common causes of lost and delayed bags are flights schedule changes, late check-ins, last minute changes of your travel or your late arrival at the baggage carousel. Avoid all this and minimize the time you get off the airplane to the baggage carousel.
7. Remove any tag or label from the previous flights.
8. Travel insurance is the best guarantee that you’ll recover any losses.
9. Use a baggage tagging service such as SuperSmartTag or ReboundTAGthat offer luggage tags with unique serial numbers that can be linked to the suitcase owner via an online database. The site will contact you as soon as your lost item is found.

If you had or have a similar situation, tell us what happened! Also, do not hesitate to contact here if you need further clarification  and  additional information or write on [email protected]

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