Have you lost your luggage on a flight? It happens a lot of times to some of us. But with the help of new technologies, the number of incidents is now lower. Nevertheless, we offer you some tips on how to avoid losing your bag, how to retrieve it if it goes missing, or what to do in case you never find it.
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How to Prevent Losing Your Bag
Don’t bring any valuables. Some airlines prohibit their passengers from checking in expensive items like jewelry because checked valuables are likely to go missing. If you really need to bring them, don’t check it in, just put it inside your carry-on bag.
Insert your contact information in your bag. This is so that even if the exterior tags get damaged, the airlines still have another way to contact you.
Snap a picture of your luggage. This is particularly useful in case your bag is misrouted. There are many similar-looking bags nowadays, if you attached something unique in your bag such as bright-colored ribbon, airline personnel will easily identify your bag.
Use GPS tracking device. Attach a GPS tracking device on your bag such as Trackimo. It’s live tracking allows you to monitor your bag anytime and anywhere in the world. In case your bag did not arrive with you, at least you know where it is.
What to Do If Your Bag Is Missing
Make a lost bag report. Don’t wait until the next day before making a report. Once you realize your bag is lost, file a report immediately. Don’t leave the airport without reporting the incident.
Be at the baggage claim area. This is where you will make a lost luggage report. Ask a copy of the incident report. Don’t forget as well to ask the name and contact number of the person who assisted you for follow-up purposes.
What if no one is present at the office? This could happen if you arrive late at night. If there’s no one to receive your complain, you may call the airline’s customer service hotline and make a verbal report but make sure to get the name of the assisting person and record the time you made the call.
What If Your Bag Is Indeed Lost?
The compensation you will receive depends on whether your luggage is actually lost or simply missing. Most missing bags are just delayed or misrouted and can be found within a day or more. If your bag has been missing for already a week or two, the airline will likely declare it as lost.
If your bag is lost between connecting flights and different airlines, it can be confusing and you will find it hard to decide which airline you must contact. It’s recommended that you direct your calls and e-mails to the carrier that brought you to your ultimate destination.
Your Rights as a Passenger
Speaking of a passenger who lost their bag for a short period, the DOT says, “You are entitled to reasonable reimbursement for expenses you incur while waiting for the delayed bag, such as the purchase of toiletries and a change of underwear.”
But compensations actually depend on the airline company. Some will provide cash for your toiletries needs while others will just reimburse a certain amount of your expenses, so always keep the receipts of your purchases.
For a lost luggage, airlines are compelled to pay up to $3,330 per passenger for domestic flights. You have to fill out first a form and put in details the possessions you have lost along with your bag and its worth. But don’t expect the airline to give you the full amount. They are likely to compute the depreciated value of your belongings. This is why you must negotiate with them.
Tips to Help You Negotiate
Don’t overstate your claim. If they sense you’re making up your claims, you may never get a cent from them and charge you with fraud instead.
Scrutinize the agreement. Before signing any agreement, make sure that you read and understand everything. You may be asked by the airlines to choose between cash or vouchers for future flights. If you prefer tickets, make sure to ask them the restrictions because free airline tickets are useless if you can’t use them.
And by the way, if you choose cash, you may have to wait for up to three months before you can claim your reimbursement check.