What To Do When An Airline Loses Your Bag

What To Do When An Airline Loses Your Bag

You arrive at your destination, ready to finally unwind on your long-awaited vacation, only to find that your suitcase hasn’t made the trip with you.

It’s not a fun situation to find yourself in, but it’s also likely not the end of the world. So the first step is take a deep breath and not let the airline’s mismanagement ruin your trip. The second is to check with the airline to see if your bag will arrive on its next plane to your current locale. Again, it’s normal to be frustrated, but don’t take it out on the agent helping you — he or she didn’t lose your bag.

Then, report it missing. You’ll want to do this immediately, and if you had a connecting flight, make sure you report it to the airline you used for the first leg of your trip.

“Provide a detailed description of the size, colour and material of the bag, including any identifying tags,” writes The Points Guy. “Ensure the claim has your local address and contact information, and be sure to get the phone number of the lost luggage desk as well as some type of reference or claim number.”

Ask the Airline to Reimburse You

While you’re filling out the form, ask the airline how much they can reimburse you for the lost luggage.

QANTAS requires passengers to report delayed or damaged checked baggage in person at the airport when you arrive. The same goes for airlines such as Jetstar, Tigarair and Virgin.

Usually if your bag is delayed more than 12 hours, you will be refunded any baggage fee, but times and procedures may vary depending on the company. Note that this likely won’t apply if your bag is misplaced on your flight home.

Once you’ve reported reported your missing baggage you will need to start organising some alternative means, you might not get the bag back for a few days. Speak to the baggage services about their policy on covering any costs in the meantime.

The level of cover will differ with each airline, but generally there will be some level of reimbursement from the company, from free pajamas to a cash payment.

Don’t be afraid to ask for more help if you need it and be kind to the unlucky person who has to deal with disgruntled travelers all day, every day.

Use Credit Card Insurance

After the initial airline reimbursement, you may be able to take advantage of your credit card or airline’s travel insurance to buy any other needed clothes and other items. That doesn’t mean you can buy a whole new wardrobe, but you can buy toiletries and other essentials to get you through your trip.

According to Flight Centre, the air transport industry has improved baggage handling by 61.3 per cent since 2007 worldwide. This is mostly thanks to technology improving and the implementation of automated systems keeping check of your luggage at each step of the way.

But if you do lose your luggage, know that you have a few different options to help rectify the situation — or at least make it more manageable. That way, you can still enjoy your trip.


  • Having been through this a few times in the past 15 years, I would add start small with any replacement or “getting by” clothes purchases.

    If the bag returns pretty quickly you won’t have spend very much and won’t waste bag space with new clothes. I worked and lived in 3 Polos, sets of underwear and socks for 5 days until my bag arrived once.

    It doesn’t always work, one time my bag was lost for a month before it finally showed up, battered and bruised but intact. By that stage I had stretched the 600 Euro instant compensation to replace almost everything including a new bag (I had my parents send a care package of the few items I was unwilling to buy due to cost from home). However, I now had 3 months of travel left with twice the luggage I started with.

    Not exactly great when travelling on European Trains where they are not expecting a pack donkey with 2x 90cm bags, camera backpack and work bag. The looks I got at stations dragging what looked like everything I owned was priceless though.

  • I had a lost bag returned three months later because I had my name, address and phone number inside the bag. It seems that all the labels had been torn off in Hong Kong (probably deliberate) and the bag ended up at a lost bag disposal place in Texas from where I was contacted. After a time, lost bags are sold by the airlines to disposal places who sell the contents.

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