Airline lost your baggage? Here’s what you should do

Three out of every 1,000 bags are mishandled. If it happens to you, act right away


Arriving at your destination without your luggage is a traveller’s nightmare. Not only are you anxious about whether the airline will find your bag, there is the inconvenience of managing without your personal items. Here’s what to do to minimize your anxiety and improve the chances of tracing your baggage.

Before your flight

• Don’t pack valuables in check-in baggage: Carry them on your person or in a carry-on bag.
• Remove all old baggage tags: This is to ensure airline personnel don’t mistakenly send your bag on the wrong flight.
• Contact details: Put a tag with your name and contact information. Also, stick a business card in your bag because exterior tags may get damaged.
• Take a picture of your bag: Keep a photo of your baggage on your phone. This will help in describing your missing bag to the airline personnel.
• Make a list of items in the bag: This will come in handy in case the airline has lost your bag and you have to claim compensation.
• Baggage insurance: If you have to put valuable items in check-in baggage, you may want to get baggage insurance prior to travel.

What to do if your baggage is missing

Do not leave the airport without making a report: Many airlines mandate that you report your lost luggage within a certain time period, some as short as four hours. Apart from personal and flight details, you will need to give an accurate description of a missing bag. Get a copy of the claim form before you leave.

If it’s late at night and you are unable to contact someone at the airport, call the airline and make a verbal report. Be sure to jot down the time and name of the person you spoke to.

Determine if your bag istruly lost: Most bags are located within a day or so.The airline has to deliver the delayed baggage to you. If your bag is truly lost, you may have to wait a week (or two) before the airline makes it official.


Contact the last carrier: If you flew with multiple airlines, remember that lost bags are the responsibility of the airline that flies you to your ultimate destination. Direct all calls and email inquiries to the last carrier.

Find out about compensation: You may be entitled to reimbursement for expenses you incur while waiting for the delayed bag, such as the purchase of toiletries and clothes. Save receipts of all purchases. Most airlines display on their website their policy for such instances.

Tracing your baggage: Where luggage doesn’t show up, you should be able to monitor it through the online baggage-tracing page of the airline with a reference number (given in the luggage receipt attached to your boarding card).

If your bag is truly lost: According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) website, you should contact the airline and collect the Property Irregularity Report (known as PIR) before leaving the airport. Put in a written claim to the airline. The airline is liable to pay you compensation in case of loss, damage or delayed baggage as per the provisions of The Carriage by Air Act, 1972.

For instance, the Jet Airways website clearly states: If your baggage can’t be traced in 21 days, for domestic flights, Jet Airways pays a maximum of Rs. 350 per kg of checked baggage. For international flights, most airlines go by the Montreal Convention of 1999 which is USD 20 per kg of check-in baggage.

Like insurance companies, airlines consider the depreciated value of your possessions, not their original price or the replacement costs. Don’t exaggerate your claim. If you do, the airline might deny the entire claim on the basis of fraud.

Finally, be patient. It can take airlines anywhere from a few hours to a month to locate your bag, and another four weeks to three months to reimburse you.

Sources: abcnews.go.com, www.rd.com, www.traveller.com.au, www.goindigo.in, www.jetairways.com

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