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Airlines and Lost Luggage

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 21 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Airlines And Lost Luggage

You've got your tickets, planned the itinerary, and carefully packed your bags. You've selected the perfect outfit for every scheduled activity on your holiday and added a few extra for good measure. You are ready to go!

Where is my Luggage?

Hours later, as you arrive at your destination, you are disappointed to learn that the airline has lost your luggage. Don't worry, they assure you, nearly all misplaced bags are returned to customers within 48 hours. They've got to be kidding -- 48 hours?! It's not like you can just go into your wardrobe and choose something else to wear. Everything that you brought along is missing, so you have no choice. You hit the stores and buy a few things to carry you for a few days.

Does this little travel nightmare sound all too familiar? It just may. It turns out that on average, five passengers on every British Airways flight will find that their baggage is not waiting for them as expected when they deplane. Other airlines have even more shameful records; Luxair and Austrian Airlines average six per flight, while Iberia Flight and Lufthansa are running at an average of seven disappointed passengers per flight. Overall, over 15 out of every 1,000 passengers will typically begin their vacations without their well-packed suitcases.

It is certainly inconvenient to replace your vacation wardrobe and it is often expensive, as well. And in most cases, if the airline never finds your bags, they pay you a flat rate based on luggage weight, not on the specific contents of your suitcases. So whether you've packed tees and cutoffs from the discount store or your favourite designer splurges, the airline will make the same repayment. And I would venture to guess that the amount will come closer to the replacement value of the discount store items. Fair? Of course not, but that's the way that it works.

Although you can't guarantee that you won't be one of the unlucky ones, there are a few things that you can do to decrease your chances of starting your holiday with nothing more than the clothes on your back. For starters, always pack a few basics in your carry-on. In addition to cosmetics, personal care items, jewellery, and medications, which can be costly to replace, try to include an outfit or two. If the airline does misplace your bags, at least you'll have a few things to wear until they return the rest of your belongings.

Secure your Case

Be sure that all of your luggage clearly labelled with your contact information. If you are uncomfortable displaying your home address and telephone number, use your business information. In any case, be sure that each piece of baggage is securely tagged.

Although this sounds simple, be sure that your suitcases are securely closed and locked. A surprising number of items go missing when a bag pops open and the contents are spilled.

As you pack your bags, make a complete inventory of all that you pack, along with the estimated value of each item. It can also be helpful to take a few quick snapshots of the contents of your bags as proof, should it become necessary to make an insurance claim later. Inquire about purchasing excess-valuation insurance which requires the airline to pay the replacement value of your lost items, rather than the standard, by-weight method.

Once you have landed and realise that your luggage may have arrived at a different destination, be sure to locate a baggage agent immediately so that they can begin to process your claim. Almost all airlines require that an insurance claim for missing luggage must be filed within 24 hours, so do not delay.

Where is my Luggage Now?

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of those missing bags, once they are finally located? Many never find their way home. Instead, they are likely to end up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, located in Scottsboro, Alabama, a town in the United States. Unofficially known as "the lost luggage capital of the world," the UBC sells items that have been recovered from virtually every airline worldwide. So if it means a great deal to you to locate a special item lost during your travels, you may just want to book a trip to Alabama. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your bags.

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