What to do if you lose your luggage

There are few more frustrating experiences than losing your luggage when travelling – yet this is, unfortunately, commonplace. Many people travel with expensive clothing and electrical items which can be costly to replace if not properly insured. It’s better, therefore, to ensure that you mitigate the risk of losing your luggage when travelling by taking precautions.

However, even the most conscientious traveller can still find themselves facing the problem of delayed, misplaced or stolen luggage. If you do lose your luggage, there are steps you should take as quickly as possible to boost your chances of getting your luggage back or at the very least replacing some of the items that were in it.

Checking in

Once you’ve checked your luggage in and entrusted it to the care of your airline, there isn’t a great deal you can do to ensure that it stays safe. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take before you check in to significantly reduce the risk of loss or damage. Firstly, you should choose to store your belongings in luggage which is sufficiently robust and therefore able to withstand the pressures of international travel.

There’s always a chance that your luggage might be buffeted around a bit whilst it’s being transported from one destination to another, and baggage handlers aren’t always terribly sensitive. It makes sense, therefore, not only to choose good quality luggage but also to ensure that your items are packed safely rather than being simply crammed in.

You should also ensure that your luggage is properly labelled so that it stands out clearly and is therefore easier for you to spot. However, if you do find that your luggage has gone missing then you’ll need to fill out a Property Irregularity Report form.

You can obtain one of these forms from the airline desks in the luggage hall at the airport. Airlines will wait 21 days before declaring a particular item lost. Until that point, the item will is considered to be “delayed” – and the airline will be expected to cover the cost of any item you have to buy to compensate for the “delay”.

Once the 21-day period is up, your airline should ask you to fill out a claim for your lost luggage and its contents. The airline will want to see receipts and proof of ownership before it pays out, so make sure you can produce the required documentation.

You should also remember that they may factor depreciation into their calculations, so you may not get the full amount of money you originally paid for your luggage and the items contained within it. There’s also a cap of just over £1,000 for successful claims, although you can expect to be offered considerably less than that amount.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can sometimes help, but you should take the time to consult the small print just in case you lose your luggage whilst travelling. Many travellers complain that their insurance policy is inadequate, so make sure you know full well just what your policy is likely to cover – that way, you should avoid any unpleasant surprises in addition to the loss of your luggage.

  • Guest post contributed by Simon Hardman, an avid traveller who has lost his luggage on too many occasions to count, is now more prone to using small lightweight suitcases that he can take on board for smaller journeys.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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