The Very First Thing You Should Do If Your Luggage Gets Lost During Travel

The feeling of not having your luggage can throw you into sheer panic mode. However, it's important to remember you're not alone and there are options. Not all lost luggage is truly lost: it can simply be mishandled. Mishandled luggage occurs more often, and the chances of completely losing your luggage remain relatively low. It's good to keep in mind that the majority of the time, mishandled luggage can stem from several issues that are out of the control of airline employees.

Baggage delays continue to be an area of contention, and statistics support this. World Nomads, a travel insurance provider, reported that baggage delays from May to July 2022 skyrocketed when compared to the same time period in 2019 (via Nerd Wallet). This means more individuals may be left scrambling to replace lost items. The pain is felt by both the consumer as well as employees. According to The Points Guy, London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) even asked airlines to cancel 10% of their flights to address the issue earlier last year. Whether your luggage is mishandled or lost in the abyss, the most important thing to know is that lost luggage due to air travel can be resolved and there are a few steps to consider to put you in a place of advantage.

Check with your airline carrier

Losing your luggage can throw a wrench in your plans. In fact, the mishandling of luggage is more common than you think. In the first quarter of 2022, more than 684,000 bags were mishandled and lost, according to Luggage Hero. While the number of mishandled bags may be alarming, there are many more individuals who take to the skies each year. 674 million passengers traveled by U.S. airlines in 2021, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Before spinning out and going down the rabbit hole, take a deep breath and know that everything will work out in the end.

Each airline carrier has different protocols and requirements. Before heading to Target to restore your lost items, check in with your airline carrier for your final flight. If your itinerary has a connecting flight, you must speak with the operator for the last flight to ensure the correct arrangements can be made. If there is not a representative onsite, give them a call. Consider checking their policy language on their website surrounding lost or delayed luggage to get the facts straight before calling.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), there are regulations in place. The good news is that airlines are required to compensate passengers if the bags are irretrievable. While the amount may differ, there may be reimbursement or additional alternatives to compensate for the error and hassle.

File a claim, voice your concerns, and be proactive

If you find yourself spinning your wheels (pun intended) and going nowhere, it's time to file a claim. Many airlines will have a claim form. However, in the event the airline does not, send an email to the customer service department. Per Citizens Advice, the email should at the very least include a few detailed points about your flight. Consider being as descriptive as possible and placing a dollar value on your items as well as keeping a list of all of the items that were purchased due to the lost luggage. This will help both you and the airlines with remaining organized and also help set monetary expectations.

Keep track of your outreach as well as it may be needed if your claim needs to be escalated. If your claim goes unanswered, voice your concerns on social media. Customer service and reputation are of utmost importance for airline carriers and many will go to extreme lengths to protect their reputations. Per Andy Beal, providing a solution in a timely fashion is "pertinent for winning over brand advocates." Undoubtedly the airline will want this remedied as quickly as possible, just like you. Following these steps will put you ahead of the game if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation.