What To Do When Your Luggage Is Lost On Holiday

You got to the airport with hours to spare, enjoyed a bit of duty-free shopping and had a drink before your flight; now you’ve arrived at your chosen destination, and you’re officially on holiday!

But just when you think you can relax, you’re left waiting by the luggage carousel for a bag that doesn’t arrive.

Lost luggage can be an inconvenient start (or end) to any holiday, and for many people, it is one of the worst scenarios they can imagine for their trip.

However, lost luggage is actually pretty rare. That is, it’s unlikely that your bag will vanish into thin air, never to be seen again. Often there is a delay or other perfectly good explanation for why your bag hasn’t arrived yet.

In fact, only 3% of bags worldwide are lost or stolen and never found; the other 97% will be located and returned to you within a day or two.

How to avoid your luggage getting lost

Before we look at what to do when your bag goes missing, let’s take a quick look at how you can prevent this from happening in the first place or certainly make it easier to handle if it does. There are several steps you can take, including:

  • Preparing your bags for travel – Be sure to remove any old travel tags, mark it as yours with a bandana, sticker or something that stands out, and add a tag with your name and address on
  • Check-in for your flight early – Checking in to your flight early helps to ensure that your bag makes it onto your plane and doesn’t have to be put on a later flight
  • Keep the essentials with you – It’s best to keep a few essentials with you in your hand luggage just in case, such as phone chargers, adapters, hotel details and a change of clothes
  • Don’t lose any baggage claim tickets
  • Know your bag – It’s important that you know what your bag looks like and what you packed so you can help identify it. Adding a bit of material, sticker or tag can help with this

By taking these important steps, you can mitigate the risks of your bag getting lost or delayed and make it easier to track down should something happen.

If your luggage does go missing

But if you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation, standing at an empty carousel and starting to feel very stressed about your bags not arriving, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll talk you through what to do if your luggage gets lost whilst you’re on holiday.

1. Stay calm

Although it’s inconvenient, losing your luggage is not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean your trip has to be completely ruined. So, try to stay calm as best you can and know that the most likely scenario is that your bags are delayed or had to be put on another flight and will be arriving shortly.

Yes, it’s annoying, and no, it’s not how you envisioned starting your holiday, but getting stressed will only ruin your time there. And remember, airlines have dedicated teams and technology that they use to track down your luggage, so they will do all they can to help.

2. Go to the baggage claim office

If you’ve stood by the carousel for some time now and it’s evident that your bag is not there, you need to go to the airport’s baggage claim office to file a report. It’s worth noting that some airlines will expect you to report your bag lost within a certain time frame, usually within a few hours, so don’t waste time standing around and hoping it’ll show up.

Instead, go to baggage claim as soon as you realize your luggage is missing and make the report. You can ask them questions there and then, for example:

  • Can you locate my bag?
  • When can I expect it to arrive?
  • When can I expect updates on my baggage?
  • What number do I call for more information on my bag?
  • What’s the next step?

They will then ask you to fill out the lost baggage form so they can assist you further and provide updates where needed.

3. File out a missing luggage report

It’s crucial that you make a report for two reasons. Firstly, the baggage claims team can begin to locate or look into your luggage and might be able to give you details about its current location. Secondly, you need to create a paper trail for insurance or reimbursement if your bag is never found.

It’s best to ask for a copy of the report and any other important documents you fill out and to keep these with you, just in case. Be careful not to lose these.

4. Check into your accommodation

Once you’ve filled out a report and waited for updates on your bag, if it’s unlikely to turn up that day, there isn’t much more you can do. So, at this stage, it’s best to go to your hotel or accommodation, check-in and try to enjoy your holiday.

You might wish to stop at the local supermarket or shop on the way to pick up a few essentials like a toothbrush, shampoo and basic clothes. If you do this, be sure to keep any expenditure receipts, as you should be able to claim back on those purchases with the airline or your travel insurance company.

5. Follow up with the airline

Don’t sit around waiting for the airline to call you, be proactive and keep reaching out for updates. They’ll be able to tell you if your luggage has been located or has arrived on a later flight. In that case, you should be able to go and pick it up from the airport in a day or two.

However, if your luggage takes longer to find, keep calling and asking for information, but try not to let this ruin your holiday. Airlines and travel insurers will have special policies in place for this type of event. So even when you have returned home, bag or no bag, keep pushing for compensation and be sure to get your money back.


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