7 tips for avoiding lost luggage blues
Lost or damaged luggage are the third most common complaint of air travel, after delays and cancellations.
Here are some tips to prevent lost bags:
1. Don’t check your luggage. Pack light, taking only carry-on luggage.
2. Ship your luggage ahead to your destination, with services like FedEx, Luggage Concierge or Virtual Bellhop. It can cost $40 a bag and up, but it saves you hours of time. No need to stand in line checking luggage, or waiting for it upon landing. You can even have friends pick you up at the departures terminal.
3. Never pack items you have to have in 24 hours — medicine, for example — or the suit you need for that presentation in the morning.
4. Never pack valuable or precious items like jewelry, electronics or cash in checked luggage because if the bag is lost, you can’t claim them.
5. Put your name and address on the inside of your bag as well as the outside and include a copy of your itinerary just in case the baggage tag gets torn off.
6. Take a photo of your bag with your cell phone before you check it in case you need it later for show-and-tell.
7. After you’ve reclaimed your bag on the other side, check it before you leave the baggage claim area just to make sure all your stuff is inside.
If your bag is lost
- If your luggage is lost or even damaged, it’s important that you file a report with the airline within 24 hours of your arrival, or else your claim could be dismissed.
- Also, if your luggage is lost for good, you’ll have to list all the items inside to get reimbursed, so it’s important to write down what’s in your bag before you fly.
- Airlines pay a maximum of $2,800 per passenger for lost luggage on domestic flights, although each carrier’s policy is different. For example, many exclude coverage of jewelry, camera equipment, and medications.
- When delays occur, airlines usually advance passengers cash or reimburse you for necessary items like toiletries and a change of clothes, so it’s important to save your receipts.
- Make sure to carry the address of the hotel or hotels you’ll be staying at. Once the airline locates your bags, most will ship them to you free of charge so it’s important that you know where they should send them.
There is hope: In 98 percent of lost luggage situations, bags are eventually recovered, most within the first 24 to 48 hours.