12 tips for dealing with lost baggage – or preventing it altogether

No matter what airline you fly – there can always be a chance that your baggage can get lost or delayed. Here are some tips for you that help to prevent such loss or at least make it easier to deal with it.
1. Make your bag stand out. Buy luggage that is a color other than black – because with the high % of black luggage out there, yours will stand out. Attach a brightly coloured piece of ribbon or tape to the handle.

2. Put your name and contact address (both at home and at your destination) on the outside and inside of every bag. This will make it easier for the airline to reunite you if you are separated from your luggage. If you’re traveling extensively, put a copy of your itinerary inside the suitcase, including contact details at each stop.

3. Remove old luggage tags, so that the airlines don’t get confused on the suitcase’s destination. Always check that the baggage will be tagged to the correct destination.

4. Make sure that you keep the stub from your checked luggage – in case it will be needed if your luggage is lost by the airline or if you are trying to prove that you own a piece of luggage. At some airports your baggage won’t be released to you without presenting the stub.

5. Never pack fragile or very expensive items, prescription drugs or important documents in your checked-in luggage. If possible, try to take them on board with you.

6. Immediately report the loss of checked luggage to the baggage agent on duty or to any other available representative from your airline. Airlines may reject your claim if you delay.

7. File your claim with the right carrier. It’s standard practice for the carrier you last traveled on to handle your luggage claim, regardless of who you think lost your bags.

8. It’s important if you’re backpacking or travelling on a non-specific route to tell the airlines where you expect to be in a week or two. Your luggage may arrive before you, but it’s better than waiting around some city until it finally shows up.

9. Ask about reimbursement. You’ll typically need to submit receipts for purchases. Airlines may not reimburse totally, citing the so-called residual value of your purchases. They also cap spending, often at $25 a day.

10. Before you leave home, insure yourself against lost baggage. Look for a policy that will cover lost luggage and check to see if they also cover delayed luggage or luggage that missed your connection. That way, when your baggage is rerouted across the world, you’ll be able to claim for an emergency baggage allowance to get you through until your things can be located and forwarded to your destination free of charge. Always read the fine print to see what the stipulations are and most of the time, if you want your super expensive (insert object here) covered, you’ll need to upgrade your basic baggage insurance.

11. When getting baggage insurance, keep in mind that in most cases this usually protects your belongings not only from the sloppy airline baggage handlers – but from loss, damage or theft during the whole trip.

12. Please note that baggage insurance handles claims differently from airline claim policies. Airlines usually pay for your lost baggage by weight. Insurance company asks you for a list of lost items specifying prices – and also requires some proof of ownership for all of them, usually receipts or photos. As people usually don’t keep the receipts, then a good idea is to make a list of everything when packing – and taking a picture of your belongings by spreading them out on a bed etc. before putting them into the suitcase.

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