Written by Amy Beecham

Expert advice on how to prevent and deal with lost luggage.  

Between the threat of airline strikes, passport renewal delays and horror stories about lost luggage, if you’re heading on a trip abroad this summer, you might find yourself starting to panic right about now.

And it’s completely understandable. After two years of being unable to travel, many of us have a lot of time, money and expectation invested in our 2022 holiday plans and have our fingers crossed for the smoothest experience possible.

Here’s the thing: travel disasters are often unavoidable. But rather than feel helpless, there are a few key things we can do to try to mitigate the impact of any potential hiccups.

Fingers crossed you never have to make a claim for lost luggage, but in the event that you do, read on for everything you need to know. 

Protect yourself before you travel

According to MoneySupermarket, ensuring you have valid travel insurance that covers lost or damaged belongings (whether lost at the airport, at your destination or anywhere en route) is the easiest and most efficient way to ensure a lost bag doesn’t equal complete disaster.

Alongside insurance, gadgets like the Galaxy SmartTag+ and Apple’s AirTags can help bring extra peace of mind and simplify keeping track of multiple bags. The Bluetooth devices allow travellers to keep an eye on the location of their luggage and have even been used by passengers to help retrieve lost cases. 

MoneySupermarket also suggests creating an inventory (which can double as a handy packing list) of what your luggage contains before you travel. “If possible, it’s good to know exactly what is in your bag and how much it would cost to replace. That way, if your bags go missing, you’ll be able to make an accurate claim on your travel insurance policy,” it says.

Know your rights

As Citizens Advice explains on its website, you have the legal right to claim compensation from the airline if your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged. For cabin baggage, however, you only have the right to claim for a problem if it’s the airline’s fault.

If your luggage is delayed or missing, the airline has 21 days to find it and get it to you. 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.

However, Citizens Advice also suggests that if you have travel insurance or home contents insurance that covers luggage, you could be better off making an insurance claim through them instead. “You’ll probably get more money and find it easier to claim this way,” it adds. 

“I went on holiday and the airline lost my luggage: what should I do?”

Your luggage has been lost, now what?

If disaster has struck and your bags have been misplaced, try not to panic. First, ask the airline what documents you’ll need, such as your boarding card, luggage labels and any photo evidence of the cases.

As per Citizens Advice, ask the airline how they want you to send your claim. If they don’t have a claim form, you’ll probably have to write a letter to the airline’s customer service department.

In your letter, say you’re “claiming compensation under the Montreal Convention” – this will show the airline that you know your rights. Also make sure your letter includes:

  • details of your flight – dates, flight number, departure and destination
  • what happened to your luggage
  • how much money you’re asking for
  • a detailed description of everything that’s damaged or lost
  • a list or everything you had to buy because of a delay
  • copies of all the documents you need

While it’s important to take action quickly, the frustrating reality is that you may face delays in having your luggage returned.

Many people in the same boat have taken to social media to lobby airlines to try to help speed up the process, with mixed outcomes.

However, if you’re unhappy with the airline’s response, you can also try complaining to the CAA using the form on the website to ask them to take up your complaint.

Images: Getty

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