Airline problems with respect to lost luggage plague almost all carriers, but Atlantic Southeast Airlines, American Eagle Airlines, SkyWest, Comair and Delta top the list. Do you know what to do if you are the passenger with the lost bags?
Lost Luggage is one of the Most Persistent, Aggravating Airline Problems
A USA Today report revealed that in 2005 United States airlines lost an average of 10,000 bags on any given day. In all fairness, these airline problems were addressed and some of the worst 2005 offenders – Delta Air Lines and American Airlines – have cleaned up their acts, according to the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings.
Even though the odds are good that you will emerge victorious from the lost luggage lottery, knowing what to do when you do end up with lost bags determines liability, airline payments and also overall a reduction in your stress level.
First Things First: Are Your Lost Bags Part of Airline Problems or Your Own Fault?
Just recently the Associated Press reported on a couple of luggage thieves that lifted an estimated 1,000 pieces of luggage from the Phoenix airport’s baggage claim. While this is clearly a security issue, it may also be due to passengers who spent their time doing other things before claiming their bags. No matter what might have contributed to your lost bags, take action before you ever leave the airport.
Step 1: Report lost bags to your airline immediately, but go easy on the accusations.
Request Lost Luggage Tracking by the Airline
Even if you arrive at your destination but your bag fails to materialize, you are not necessarily the victim of lost luggage. The Office of Aviation Enforcement points out that prior to being tagged as a lost bag, your luggage is assumed to merely be delayed. Fill out a claim form and demand a copy as well as contact number – it should differ from the generic airline reservation line – that you may call to check on the progress of the investigation. Make sure you leave your contact information, so the airline knows how to get your lost bags to you – if they show up.
Step 2: Initiate a paper trail.
File a Lost Luggage Claim
If the airline cannot find your lost bags, follow up your initial search request with an official lost luggage claim. Airlines demand that you follow specific procedures when submitting a claim; follow them to the letter and do not miss a deadline! If you have retail receipts for some of the items you claim to have lost, attaching copies of them helps.
Step 3: File a claim with the airline, observing due dates and requests for supporting evidence.
If you claim to have carried in your luggage a priceless Egyptian artifact estimated to be worth millions of dollars, you will still not get more than a maximum of $3,300. This ceiling may be higher if you remembered to buy excess valuation coverage from your airline before takeoff. Remember to also attach copies of receipts for item replacements to your claim to see if the airline will reimburse you for the wardrobe items you had to replace. That being said, it may take two to three months to receive any form or reimbursement.
Step 4: Move on, replace lost items and keep the airlines’ feet to the fire; you will receive reimbursement eventually.