What to Do When an Airline Loses Your Bag

baggage lost at airport

When you’re traveling and an airline loses your bag, sometimes it’s just a minor inconvenience–you don’t have your toothbrush for one night but get your bag back the next day, for example. But sometimes, it can really negatively impact your travel experience, like when you have expensive gear and other items in a checked bag and you aren’t going to get that luggage back while you’re on the trip. In any case, there are certain steps you can take and things to know that will ease the worry and trouble that come from losing your travel bag on your next flight:

Get the Right Travel Insurance

The number one thing you can and should do to deal with lost or delayed luggage happens before you even go on your trip: Get the right travel insurance coverage. So many travelers opt-out of coverage for lost luggage because it’s “never happened to me before”…until it does. We hope that you’ll be one of the lucky world travelers who never experiences the stress of lost or delayed bags, but it can happen to anyone, and travel insurance will totally change the game in the event it’s your luggage that gets lost. So, what kinds of travel insurance coverage do you need?

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Baggage Delay Coverage

If your baggage is lost and unable to be returned to you for more than 24 hours, you’ll likely have to purchase new clothes, toiletries, and other necessities to get by in the meantime. If your travel insurance policy includes baggage delay coverage, you’ll be reimbursed for those expenses and any laundering you need to do, as well as any expenses you incur in the process of tracking down and retrieving your bags. This will save you a headache even if your bags will be returned to you eventually.

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Baggage & Personal Effects Coverage

If your baggage is lost, stolen, or damaged and won’t be returned to you in its original condition, baggage coverage will usually reimburse you for your lost belongings, as well as any fees associated with getting new documents such as passports and visas, and any unauthorized use of your credit cards. Under this coverage, reimbursement for your belongings is capped at a certain amount, no matter what you had in your bag. 

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Valuation & Payment of Loss

If you’re traveling with any particularly valuable items, you may want to consider valuation and payment of loss coverage, which is calculated according to the cash value of your belongings. Most insurance companies will cover 75% of that valuation or replace or repair your luggage if that’s what’s damaged. 

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Continuation of Coverage

This part ensures coverage from the time when your bag is lost until it is returned to you. It’s a simple but important element that could save you a lot of hassle! 

Know Your Airline’s Rules

In addition to travel insurance coverage, it’s important to know how the airline you’re traveling with handles lost and damaged luggage items. These kinds of policies often change over time, but here’s what three of the most commonly flown airlines will cover right now:

Delta Airlines “requires that receipts be presented for all reasonable expense reimbursements incurred due to the delay of your bag(s). Reasonable expenses generally are $50 per day for the first 5 days the bag is delayed.” 

File your baggage claim here

For domestic flights, reimbursement “is limited to $3,500.00 per fare-paying Customer”. For international itineraries: Reimbursement is “limited to 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (roughly $1550) for each passenger. 

File your baggage claim here

American Airlines will “reimburse you for the items you need immediately while away from home without your bags” as long as you send a specific list of items to them within 45 days. 

File your baggage claim here

That being said, these airline companies are behemoths and claims processing can sometimes be a frustrating and lengthy experience, especially if you don’t have a physical report of your baggage loss from the airline.

Learn How to Navigate While Abroad

Losing your baggage while on your journey to your destination nationally can definitely be a pain (and even a nightmare), but losing luggage while traveling abroad can be even more challenging. The good news is, an agreement called the Montreal Convention has you covered. If you’re making your way between two countries that have signed onto the agreement, it basically covers what Delta’s policy states: that your airline is required to cover 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (roughly $1550) for each passenger. Most countries have signed on to the agreement to date, but be sure to check it out before your international flight departs to make sure you’re covered.

No matter where you are or what your insurance and airline cover, there are a few things you should be sure to do if your bag is lost or delayed:

  • Document everything! This will be crucial if you’re looking to get reimbursed for anything that’s damaged or lost.

  • File your baggage claim before you leave the airport no matter what or you could lose your right to claim for reimbursement.

  • Stay on top of it over time to ensure that you are reimbursed to the fullest extent possible.

Ready to get insured? Start with our easy quote tool and then get in touch with us with any questions you have. 

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