Dealing with the Nightmare of Lost Luggage
There is no better feeling than landing at your holiday destination, all ready to claim your luggage and then really get started on your holiday. However, your mood can quickly change if the luggage doesn’t appear on the carousel – your happiness now gone and you’ve got the worry of having to deal with a real annoying and frustrating situation.
On this page you will find all of the info you need about dealing with a lost luggage situation. First up, there are facts and figures about lost luggage, detailing exactly how likely it is to happen. Next, the process detailing how airlines and airports deal with lost luggage is explained in full. To finish, your rights as a passenger in this situation are explained, including an explanation of how you will go through the process of receiving compensation.
How Common is Lost Luggage?
To start this page, there is some good news. The instances of lost luggage go down year on year. Processes have been improved over the years, including greatly enhanced tracking and tracing procedures, that ensure you should indeed receive your luggage. Statistics show that in 2007, for every 1,000 passengers there would be 7 instances of lost luggage. By 2009 this number has dropped by almost half to under 4 per 1,000 passengers, and the number has steadily decreased ever since. The last full report, published in 2017, shows that there are just 2.59 cases of lost luggage per 1,000 customers. Another way of looking at it, is that there is just over a quarter of a percent chance of falling foul of lost luggage when going on a journey. In effect, you are 3 times less likely to suffer lost luggage today than you were 10 years ago.
How Lost Luggage is Dealt with by the Airline Industry
All major airlines around the world use a Tracer system for luggage. The system will track a bag for up to 90 days and use information provided by you about the appearance, as well as the history of the luggage’s journey to trace it.
All unclaimed bags will be kept at the airport and are logged into a system, as are all claims for lost luggage. The system will then work to match the two. In some cases, the customer themself may have forgotten about the luggage (for example, they might have picked up 3 suitcases instead of four), and this is a simple case of them calling up and arranging for it to be returned to them.
In most cases, the bag, if it has gone to the wrong destination, will simply be placed on the next available flight – and be returned to the customer within 48 hours. However, if it is not that simple, the tracing will continue for a full 90-day period.
Unclaimed bags will be treated like lost property and in some cases disposed of. In other cases, the contents of the bag could end up being lots at an auction house, with the proceeds of the auction going to charity.
Your Rights and Compensation when it comes to Lost Luggage
If you are unlucky enough to be in that small percentage who suffer lost luggage, your first port of call should be the airline’s help desk. You’ll be asked to fill out a ‘Property Irregularity Report’, which will ask for details about the bag and where you are staying.
While you are waiting for your bag to appear, some airlines will cover the cost of essential items. These would include changes of clothes for example, or toiletries that you will need. This can change from airline to airline, so be sure to read the small print before you fly.
By law, your luggage will not be declared ‘lost’ until 21 days have passed – up until then it will be classed as ‘delayed’. At the point at which it is declared lost, you will be able to go ahead and claim compensation. This by law is called the ‘Montreal Convention’. The amount you get as compensation can once again vary from airline to airline. For example, if flying with British Airways, you can gain up to £1,000 for destruction, loss or damage to your bag.
When making a claim, the airline might ask exactly what was in the bag and ask for proof (usually receipts) for some or all of the items you are claiming for. Sometimes your travel insurance policy can offer you more than what you are able to claim from the airline. In these cases, you’ll be able to claim the difference from the insurance company, minus any excess amount.
You can find the latest on your rights on the Civil Aviation Authority website: https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-Travel-Problems/Lost-delayed-or-damaged-baggage/
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