According to the Department of Transportation, in the first quarter of 2022 alone, there were roughly 700,000 mishandled bags. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics defines mishandled bags as luggage that is “lost, delayed, damaged or pilfered.”
Although your chance of losing your bag while traveling may be small, there’s still a chance that you will experience this at some point. So if your bags don’t appear on the airport’s conveyor belt, the first thing you need to do is be patient. It’s not entirely uncommon for passengers to wait 30-45 minutes for their bags to come out.
Luggage may at times come in waves (even for a single flight). Next, check other carousels. It may have been offloaded elsewhere so a quick look at other areas is needed before you report your bag missing. Assuming your bags are indeed nowhere to be found, here are the steps you should follow:
1. Locate the airline’s baggage desk.
If you’ve taken connecting flights, go to the airline that operated your last flight. For example, if your first flight was with Spirit and you had a connecting flight with a different airline, such as Silver Airways, you must file the claim with Silver Airways.
2. Tell their personnel that your bags are missing.
Let them know that your luggage didn’t arrive and show them a copy of the bag tag you got upon check-in so they can check the info in their system.
3. Then you need to file a missing baggage report.
Provide all the necessary information you can about your bag (size, material, color) as well as any identifying tags it may have.
4. Ask the personnel what the airline will cover in terms of compensation.
Check the airline’s policy for delayed and lost bags as well to be doubly sure.
5. In the form, indicate your local address.
The airline should come to you to return your bags if found. If the agent tells you your bags are delayed and will arrive on the next flight, and that you should wait at the airport, politely decline and have them deliver your bags to your address such as a hotel. The airline is responsible for giving the bag to you and should shoulder the cost of doing so.
6. In the meantime,
You should keep any receipts of items purchased while waiting for your bags to arrive or be found. Essentials and reasonable purchases are covered, just make sure you keep the receipts. Focus on bare essentials like change of clothes and toiletries.
7. Continue to track your bags.
Most airlines have apps or website portals that let you know the status of your missing bags by entering certain information like your name, reference number, etc.
8. If your luggage is considered lost (this is usually 14-21 days from arriving at your destination),
You can file a claim against the airline so you can get higher compensation. The claim form will ask you to list all the items in the bag. Some items may require receipts especially if these are high-priced. Depreciation applies to items you have already used.
The amount to be compensated also has limits depending on which country you’re traveling. In the US, the limit is usually less than $3,500. Some carriers have a flat fee. United Airlines offers $1,500 compensation for lost bags. Moreover, if the carrier has already paid for your expenses while you waited for your bag to be found, that amount will also be taken from your compensation.
To know more about how much airlines will compensate you for lost luggage, watch this video: