Standing at the baggage carousel, watching everyone’s bags trickle past, but yours, is not a feeling anyone wants to experience; but thankfully we found out what to do when your luggage goes missing, so you can be reunited with your beloved possessions.

By Annabel Fuller


As long as airlines have been checking luggage, they’ve been sending a few astray. Fortunately, airlines are improving losing fewer bags each year due to improved baggage handling technology such as barcoded tags and RFID-enabled tags. But what should you do if your one of the unlucky passengers whose baggage goes missing? We uncovered the top actions you need to take to reclaim your luggage.

Firstly, most missing baggage isn’t actually lost it’s just delayed, and in most cases, you’ll have your bag back within 24 hours. The main cause for this is your bag has been placed on the next flight, was sent to the wrong airport or was delayed on a connection itinerary. Regardless of the cause, your first step is to alert the airline at the baggage counter. Let them know your situation, provide them with the address you’ll be staying at as well as your phone number. You’ll need to provide your baggage receipt so make sure you keep it safe. When the airline finds the luggage, they will then contact you and should deliver it at no extra charge.

What about additional expenses made as a result of your missing luggage?

While there is no law requiring airlines to reimburse any unexpected expenses caused by the loss or delay most airlines will cover the cost of basic essentials such as toothpaste/ toothbrush, underwear as well as any other overnight needs. However, the airline will require all receipts and may not cover everything so prepare to negotiate.

What to Do If Your Baggage Is Lost?

If you haven’t heard from the airline within 5 days, it’s safe to assume that your luggage is truly lost. If you do find yourself in this situation, make sure you get a written claim for damages from the airline – this can be done at the airport or online. While the amount the airline pays on lost bags and its contents varies from airline to airline it’s important to remember to never pack any irreplaceable items such as jewellery and family heirlooms in your checked baggage. These items should always be left at home or packed in your carry-on bag. Airlines will typically settle on a deal based on the depreciated value of your goods, not the purchase price and will require receipts even if you purchased your luggage, camera and hiking boots over 10 years ago. This is when it pays to have travel insurance to protect your goods.

What to Do If Your Luggage Is Damaged?

If you find your luggage severally damaged such as a broken wheel, missing handles or broken open you are able to lodge a claim with the airline. Be aware that the airline won’t accept claims for minor damage such as scuffs or dents but will likely offer a refund for severe damage. In most cases, you will be responsible for repairing the case yourself and then providing a receipt to the airline who will arrange a refund, airline credit or some other compensation. If the damage occurred from a security inspection the airline will not offer any compensation.

What to Do If Your Luggage Is Stolen?

To ensure the safety of your belongings you should always head straight to baggage collection after exiting the plane. If, however, you believe your bag has been stolen you need to contact the local police and airport security who can review the terminals CCTV footage.

While we hope no one ever has to experience missing luggage it’s always good to be informed on the protocol to managing such situations.