Here’s How To Handle Lost Luggage, According to One Travel Expert

published Aug 17, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
unpacking suitcase

Among the many travel snafus you can experience when you fly the friendly skies, losing your luggage is perhaps the most unnerving — especially if it happens when you’re on your trip, and you’re stuck wondering how you’ll manage without your belongings.

Before you panic, there are several steps you should take to ensure you’ll be reunited with your stuff ASAP. Cody Candee, the CEO and founder of Bounce, shared his top tips for handling lost luggage, telling Apartment Therapy exactly how to handle a missing baggage situation.

Your first step, per Candee: Contact the airline, not the airport. “Rather than the airport, it’s the airlines that you should get in touch with in the first instance, and you should do this as soon as possible,” he says. “There should usually be a representative from the airline at the airport, but if not, be sure to source their contact information and give them a call. You may also be asked to complete a lost baggage report describing the model, make, and color of your baggage.” Another potentially helpful tip: taking photos of your luggage before you leave the house, which might help in describing or filing a lost luggage report.

“When you do speak to someone from the airline, ask them to forward your luggage to you, either at your home or to where you’re staying at your destination,” says Candee. “The airline should always offer this service to you, however, make sure to double-check when the process will take place. To keep a check on the delivery of your baggage, exchange contact details with the airline and ask for a tracking number.”

Unfortunately, it can take days to weeks to recover lost luggage, and in some cases, you might not get it back at all. In that case, Candee says you’ll want to have any checked baggage fees refunded. “If your luggage is delayed or missing, the airline has 21 days to find it and get it to you,” he says. “If you get your luggage back within 21 days, you can still claim compensation for delayed luggage. If you don’t, you can make a claim for lost luggage.”

If you do have travel insurance, either through your credit card or a plan you purchased separately, Candee recommends checking your options for compensation as well. “Different insurance policies will have different coverage,” he notes. “Be sure to check whether your travel insurance covers lost luggage or not. If not, it may even be worth checking your homeowner’s insurance, or the credit card you used to book the flight, as these sometimes have lost luggage benefits too.”

In the event of lost luggage while you’re away from home, make sure you hold onto receipts from any purchases you need to make to recover your lost items. “If you’re stuck without your luggage for a number of days, it’s likely that you’re going to have to buy things such as clothing, toiletries, and other essentials to keep you going until you get it back,” says Candee. “If this is the case, be sure to keep hold of all your receipts as you should be compensated.”

When you are finally reunited with your bags, be sure to give everything a thorough check to account for missing or damaged items. “Hopefully, you eventually get your luggage back, but when you do, be sure to give it a thorough check for damage, and make sure that there are no missing items either. If items are found damaged or missing, the airline should repair them,” says Candee.