Has your baggage been delayed, lost or damaged? what should you do

(CNN) – It’s enough to give anyone already worried about a mess in the sky another reason to release an antacid: the possibility of baggage being delayed, lost, or damaged.

The concern is true.

After all, Delta Air Lines decided to fly a plane from London to its hub in Detroit last summer packed with a thousand missing bags and zero passengers due to the infamous breakdown in service at Heathrow Airport. Waves of cancellations and delays are becoming common in 2022.

Handing out checked bags may seem like a leap of confidence these days.

Scott Keyes, founder of Flight Deals and RScott’s Cheap Flights, a Ravel advice site, said it encourages people not to let news of baggage problems keep them away from their flights and vacations.

Uncollected bags were collected at Heathrow Airport for baggage retrieval at Terminal 3 on July 8, 2022. Scenes like this make people wonder how to avoid such a mess.

Uncollected bags were collected at Heathrow Airport for baggage retrieval at Terminal 3 on July 8, 2022. Scenes like this make people wonder how to avoid such a mess.

Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

“Every bag lost is a major disruption to the people whose bag is there – and I certainly don’t want to underestimate that – but I want people to have the proper perspective in the vast majority of cases, your flight will fly and your checked bag will arrive.”

In the meantime, you are not completely helpless. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least reduce the impact of lost and late baggage.

Before you go to the airport

Non-stop flight reservations: If you’re really concerned about your checked baggage, Keyes said, prioritize non-stop flights or at least short layovers with a good amount of time.

“Bags are more likely to get lost in this inter-plane transfer when connecting, especially if there is a tight connection.” This doubles, he said, for international flights with narrow connections.

Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than discount airlines, which tend to have more non-stop flights and are less likely to lose a bag in transit.

Older airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based solely on this, but that it was “an interesting side factor to consider.”

Bags roll on board a Sundair A320 at Dresden International Airport in Germany.  Take a picture of your luggage.  It can be useful later.

Bags roll on board a Sundair A320 at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a picture of your luggage. It can be useful later.

Robert Michael/Image Alliance/Getty Images

Take pictures of your luggage and its contents: Joe Hoban, a travel agent in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, told CNN Travel that she advises her clients to “take a picture of their bags because the first thing airline offices will ask is what the brand name of the bag is, what is The color of the bag, its size and contents.”

She also said that people should put what they plan to pack on the bed and take a picture of that too. If the bag is lost, this helps create a content history.

Use of baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your bags in their apps, which helps you have peace of mind that your bag is on the flight with you — or at least gives you insight into the location of your bag in case it’s delayed,” Scott’s Cheap Flights said in an email press release. .

You can set up a standalone tracking by yourself. One option is called AirTag, and it connects to an Apple device so you can track the location of the tag, said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel.
Select your bags correctly from the inside as well: Consumer advocacy group Travelers United says to put your information inside, too, in case your outer label is torn. Hoban made the same suggestion.

“I took a suitcase from the carousel at the airport in Salt Lake [City]. Fortunately, I knew people who took my bag so it was easy to replace. “But then again, what if I don’t know these people? What if they are complete strangers and get my bag home? I hope they are good, honest people and I see I have a name and phone number in the bag that they can call me and tell me what’s wrong.”

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handbag strength: Airlines can never lose baggage that you never check in. Twidale suggests packing as lightly as possible and using only carry-on bags. You’ll save time when you leave the airport and have peace of mind.

Review your credit card coverage: Before you buy additional travel insurance, Keyes suggested that you check your credit card policy for travel protection.

You may get supplemental compensation (for what the airlines do not cover) not only for lost bags, but also compensation for things you may need to purchase while waiting for your bag.

At the airport before traveling

Check your bags in time: Travelers United says last-minute baggage check-ins can lead to a higher chance of trouble.

“Don’t stress the system. The slightest delay can have serious consequences when your luggage is sailing below the conveyor belt and being picked up for security screening with little time to spare,” their website says.

Turn on the phone’s camera again: Keys suggested that before handing over the checked bags, open them up and take a picture.

“If your bag is really lost, and you have any valuables in there…having a picture of what was inside will really advance your case for compensation after the accident.”

Check the destination of your baggage tag: Travelers United also advises you to double-check your airline’s baggage tags and make sure they’re going where you’re going, especially if you’re checking in on the curb. The North Carolina Consumer Council reminds people to keep their baggage claim tag or label.

If your baggage is delayed

Discover other places at the airport: If your bags aren’t in the designated pick-up carousel, travel advice site The Points Guy suggests checking out nearby carousels and if you don’t see them there, try the airline’s baggage counter. This is also a good time to launch the above-mentioned tracking apps.

Report your problem and fill out the forms at the airport: If your bags do not appear, tell the airline.

“Often, airline staff will explain that baggage has been located but will be delayed until the next flight,” Travelers United says. “If you have time, wait. If you do not have time, fill out the appropriate forms for lost baggage at the airport.”

Let the airline deliver your bags: If an airline can locate your bags, but it will take hours before they arrive, Keys said, make sure the delegates have the address they will be at and use the airline’s delivery service.

Keep receipts: Scott’s Cheap Flights advises, “If you buy anything to make you go days without your luggage—from new swimwear to toothpaste—keep the receipts. You may need to reimburse them.”

If your luggage is lost

Bags can really pile up in the baggage claim area, such as the one in Hamburg, Germany.  If your baggage is lost, you can receive compensation.

Bags can really pile up in the baggage claim area, such as the one in Hamburg, Germany. If your baggage is lost, you can receive compensation.

Jonas Walsberg / picture-alliance / dpa / AP

If the airline is not helpful: Regarding US airlines, Keyes said, “If the airline is slow to compensate…don’t be afraid to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. You can file a complaint here.”

“They have an aviation executive where they are more proactive in protecting consumers and trying to clamp down on airlines when they don’t offer customers the kind of compensation or reimbursement they are required to do under federal laws.”

Limitation of Liability: There are fine print, exceptions, and hurdles related to paperwork/documentation, but you can eventually get paid for your lost bags.

For domestic flights in the United States, the maximum amount of liability allowed under DOT regulation is $3,800. Airlines are free to pay more than the allowed limit, but there is no need to do so. For international flights, this figure is $ 1,780. Find out more from the Department of Transportation here.
Damaged bags: If you see that your luggage has been damaged while you are at the airport, report it there. Airlines are not required to pay damages for damage to items caused by improper packing, according to the DOT, nor are they responsible for “certain categories of items (eg: fragile items, electronics, cash, perishables… )”

They are responsible for damage to wheels, handles and straps.

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