You’ve arrived but your luggage hasn’t? Here’s what you should do immediately3 min read . Updated: 07 May 2019, 08:59 PM IST
- Save original receipts for the airline to reimburse you, claim it before you reach home
- File a passenger irregularity report with the airline’s representatives in the baggage claim area if your baggage is lost.
Have you ever waited a long while at the baggage belt, and then resigned yourself to the fact that the airline has not brought your checked luggage on your flight? Happens to the best of us. To keep the passengers moving, airlines sometimes have to leave bags behind, in which case, you are left without your precious belongings for a few days.
This happens more often than not when you are connecting on your way to your destination, and your trip involves multiple flights rather than just one. A good practice is to ask the airline agent at the transit airport to check if your bag has been loaded on the next flight. That way, you have predictability before you get on the plane.
The first step after discovering that your bag may not have travelled along with you is to look in places where you don’t hope to find it. For instance, big bags sometimes are sorted and kept in a separate area by the airline handlers to ensure that passengers don’t injure themselves trying to pull these off the belt.
However, if you are sure your bag hasn’t arrived, the first thing to do is to file a passenger irregularity report with the airline’s representatives in the baggage claim area. If your itinerary involved multiple airlines, then report to the airline that operated the last flight. For instance, you may be on a Delhi-Singapore-Taiwan flight with Delhi-Singapore operated by Air India and Singapore-Taiwan by Eva Air. In this case, you file the report with Eva Air. In many cases, you will find that the airline is represented by a contract agency that works with multiple agencies, so you would have to deal with them.
To file this report, you should describe your bag and hand over the baggage claim tag given to you at the time of check-in. You should ensure that you give the airline your local address and contact information, get a claim number, and a copy of the missing baggage report as well. In case of an international flight, you may also have to sign a custom’s clearance form. Once outside the airport, you can start to track your bag’s situation yourself, using the airline’s website and your claim number.
Once you file this report, it becomes the airline’s and their agent’s responsibility to bring the bag to the address you put on the report, and it could be another city you are travelling to as well. For instance, if you arrive from the US and are heading to Lucknow, you don’t have to wait for the bag in Delhi. They would have to bring it to you to Lucknow.
Most airlines will also provide you with some funds for immediate “reasonable expenses", but you have to ask for it. For instance, you may have flown in for a business meeting and your shirts and toothbrush are now not with you; buy one on the airline. Talk to the baggage handling agents while filing your missing bag report and ask for the guidelines to claim this amount. The airline will need original receipts, so save those to make a reimbursement claim. It would be hard to claim this amount if you’ve returned to your origin, since the airline would determine that you have access to resources once home.
And while bags being “truly" lost are far and few, if this happens to you, the airline is on the hook to reimburse you. Each airline considers a bag lost, if they are not able to get it to you after 21 days of your travel. In this case, you would have to file a new claim with the airline for lost baggage. The airline would usually ask you for a list of everything that was in the bag, along with the price of the articles and even the original purchase date, to ensure they can apply depreciation. For expensive items, they may also want to see original receipts to be able to reimburse them. The airline’s liability of reimbursement for a lost bag is capped at 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (a special international currency created by IMF), and this is roughly equivalent to about ₹1,08,000.
The best way to circumvent the situation is to always travel with a set of clothes in your cabin baggage on an international trip. Also, take pictures of the contents of your bag before you leave your home/hotel. And lastly, try and fly direct if you can, because that just reduces the chances of your bag misconnecting on the way.
Elevate Your Travel is a column for business travellers by a business traveller.
Ajay Awtaney is founder and editor of Livefromalounge.com, a frequent-flyer website.