We do not wish it, but there is always a possibility for your luggage to go missing or be damaged in transit. This happens more often on longer trips with stopovers, but we have some advice that may allow you to limit the consequences. In any case, you lose nothing becoming informed of your options and some good practices which limit the risks.
If you can't find your suitcase on the carousel, go to your next airline attendant. Make sure to keep your luggage receipt for every bag you checked in — this is key to determine whether your luggage is delayed, left behind in transit or completely lost. In the rare event your luggage has been declared lost, the airline attendant will file a claim. To complete the claim, you will be asked to describe your bag (color, size …) as well as all the personal effects inside. Carefully keep a copy of the claim. The airline will ask for it if they find the luggage. 80% of the time, luggages are found in less than 48 hours, thanks to tracking systems and luggage receipts!
If you find your luggage damaged, go to the relevant luggage handling counter at the airport and fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). You will be asked to state what has been damaged (torn material, broken zip, stolen property, broken wheels, stains …). The airline company will contact you shortly afterwards to discuss the extent of the damage and possible recourse - at best they will replace your suitcase. It is not a legal requirement to have a PIR, but it will speed up the process. If you have no time upon discovering the damage, you must write, no later than seven days from receipt of the baggage to the Baggage Claims of your airline company. Beware: Failure to report a claim for a damaged bag within the prescribed time limit (7 days) releases the airline of responsibility. Airlines are not liable for any “damage caused to baggage that is unsuitably packed, overweight or over packed, or for any other damage considered to be normal wear”.
If you believe you have suffered prejudice in relation to the delay in delivery, you can make a claim with the airline. If you’re traveling abroad without your bag, airlines are obliged to cover costs of “essential items”. However, not all airlines stick to the same definition concerning “essential items”. For most airlines, reimbursed products are toiletries, underwear or laundry costs. However, keep receipts for anything you buy. To be reimbursed, you have 7 days to fill in a claim and submit your bills.
Tip: Always file a report before you leave the airport. This not only eliminates hassles, but many airlines have claim filing deadlines. Also, keep your packing list in your carry-on (along with a clean change of clothes!) to make the claim process easier. That way, you won’t forget anything of value when the airline representative asks you for an itemized list of what you packed.
Tip: Choose your airline wisely to improve the odds of arriving with your luggage intact with Travel and Leisure.