NATIONAL NEWS

Delayed, lost or damaged luggage: What you should do

Dec 22, 2023, 5:13 PM | Updated: 5:37 pm

FILE — Stranded travelers search for their luggage at the Southwest Airlines Baggage Claim at Mi...

FILE — Stranded travelers search for their luggage at the Southwest Airlines Baggage Claim at Midway Airport on December 27, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. A snowstorm and severe cold front that hit Chicago before the holiday weekend stranded many travelers and their luggage. Southwest Airlines has canceled approximately 5,400 flights in less than 48 hours due to a variety of issues including this year’s historic winter storm and scheduling complications involving crew members. On Monday, Southwest had 10 times more flights canceled than Delta Airlines, which had the second most cancellations nationwide this holiday season. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

(CNN)It’s enough to give anyone already on edge about how to handle possible flight delays and cancellations yet another reason to pop an antacid or two: the prospect of delayed, lost or damaged baggage.

The concern is valid, especially during winter holiday travel, and handing over checked suitcases can almost feel like a leap of faith these days.

Yet you’re not totally powerless. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid losing a bag or at least minimize the impact of delayed, lost, stolen and damaged luggage.

Before you go to the airport

Book nonstop flights: If you’re really concerned about your checked luggage, prioritize nonstop flights or at least layovers with a generous amount of time, said Scott Keyes, the founder of flight deals and travel advice site Going.com (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights).

“Bags are most likely to get lost in that transfer between planes at connection, especially if there’s a tight connection.” And he said that’s doubly so for international flights with tight connections.

Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than the discount airlines, which tend to have more nonstop flights that have a lower likelihood of losing a bag in transit.

Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based solely on this, but it’s “an interesting side factor to consider.”

Take pictures of your luggage and its contents: Jo Hoban, a travel agent in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, told CNN Travel that she advises her clients to “take a picture of their bags because the first things airline offices will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag.”

She also said people should lay out what they are planning to pack on the bed and take a picture of that, too. If the bag is lost, that helps create a content record.

Use baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your bags in their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your bag is on the flight with you — or at least give you insight into your bag’s location should it get delayed,” Scott’s Cheap Flights said in an email news release.

You can set up independent tracking yourself. Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, cited AirTag, which connects with an Apple device so you can track the tag’s location.

Properly ID your suitcases on the inside, too: The consumer advocate group Travelers United says put your info on the inside, too, in case your outside tag gets torn off. Hoban makes the same suggestion.

“I have had a bag taken off the carousel at the airport in Salt Lake [City]. Luckily, I knew the people who took my bag so it was easy to exchange it,” she said. “But again, what if I did not know those people? What if they were total strangers and got my bag home? Hopefully, they’re good, honest people and see that I have a name and phone number in the bag that they can call me and let me know the mistake.”

The power of carry-ons: The airlines can’t lose baggage you never check in. Twidale suggests packing as light as you can and use just carry-ons. You’ll save time leaving the airport and have more peace of mind.

Review your credit card coverage: Before you buy extra travel insurance, Keyes suggested you check your credit card policy for travel protection.

You might get supplemental compensation (for what the airlines don’t cover) not only for lost bags, but also for reimbursements for things you may need to buy while you’re waiting for your bag.

At the airport before you fly

Check your bags in a timely manner: Travelers United says last-minute baggage check-ins can lead to a greater chance of trouble.

“Don’t push the system. The smallest delay can have serious consequences when your luggage is cruising down the conveyor belt and selected for security examination with little time to spare,” its website says.

Work that phone camera again: Keyes suggested that just before handing over your checked suitcases, open them up and take a picture.

“If your bag does get lost, and you’ve got any valuables in there … having a photograph of what was in there is really going to bolster your case to get compensation after the fact.”

Check your baggage tag’s destination: Travelers United also advises you double-check your airline luggage tags and make sure they’re going to where you are going, especially if you’re doing curbside check-in. And the North Carolina Consumers Council reminds people to keep their baggage claim ticket or sticker.

If your baggage is delayed

Scope out other spots at the airport: If your suitcases aren’t on the designated pick-up carousel, The Points Guy travel advice website suggests checking nearby carousels and if you don’t see them there, try the airline’s baggage office. This is also a good time to put those aforementioned tracking apps to work.

Report your issue and fill out forms at the airport: If your bags haven’t shown up, let the airline know.

“Many times, airline personnel will explain that the luggage has been located but will be delayed until the next flight,” Travelers United says. “If you have the time, wait. If not, fill out the appropriate lost luggage forms at the airport.”

Let the airline deliver your bags: Keyes said if an airline can locate your suitcases but it’s going to be hours before they arrive, make sure the reps have the address where you’ll be and use the airline’s delivery service.

Keep receipts: “If you buy anything to get you through the days without your luggage — from a new swimsuit to toothpaste — keep the receipts. You may need these to get reimbursed,” Scott’s Cheap Flights (now Going.com) advises.

If your luggage is lost

Check your airline’s claims and compensation policy: Each airline should have website information on what to do if your bag is lost. For example, this is Delta Air Lines’ page. This is American Airlines’ page. And this is Southwest Airlines’ page. And airlines based outside the United States have their own systems. This is what to do if flying British Airways.

If the airline isn’t being helpful: “If the airline is dragging its feet on compensation … don’t be afraid to complain to the Department of Transportation, Keyes said regarding US airlines. You can file a complaint here.

“They’ve got a special aviation enforcement office where they’re being much more proactive about protecting consumers and trying to clamp down on airlines when they’re not providing customers with the type of compensation or reimbursement that they’re required to do under federal laws.”

For information of making claims for UK flights, click here. And check the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority’s site here. Get more information on Canadian flights here.

Liability limits: There’s fine print, exceptions and paperwork / documentation hurdles, but you can eventually get cash for your lost bags.

For US domestic flights, the maximum liability amount allowed by DOT regulation is $3,800. Airlines are free to pay more than the limit, but are not required to do so. For international flights, that figure is $1,780. Find out more from the DOT here.

Damaged bags: If you see your luggage is damaged while still at the airport, report it there. Airlines aren’t required to pay for damages to items caused by improper packing, according to the DOT, nor are they responsible for “certain categories of items (for example: fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items …)”

They are liable for damage to wheels, handles and straps.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Chuck Perkins's 1980 carving of a cheetah went on a long journey to find its way home. (Courtesy Ce...

Sydney Bishop, CNN

After 15 years, a social media post helps reunite a family with a long-lost heirloom

A social media post helped a family be reunited with a family heirloom - 15 years later.

7 hours ago

Ben Van Leeuwen scoops Kraft Mac & Cheese flavored ice cream Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in the Br...

Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s behind the weird flavors popping up on store shelves

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream usually draws customers with gourmet takes on classics like vanilla and pistachio. But occasionally, the artisanal ice cream maker headquartered in New York slips in what it calls a “shock flavor,” like Hidden Valley Ranch or pizza.

9 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday, May 20, 2024 in New Yo...

Associated Press

Prosecution rests its case in Donald Trump’s hush money trial

Donald Trump's hush money trial entered its final stretch with the prosecution resting its case late Monday afternoon following the conclusion of star witness Michael Cohen 's testimony.

10 hours ago

Crews work to move the cargo ship Dali in Baltimore, on May 20. The vessel on March 26 struck the F...

Holly Yan, Elizabeth Wolfe, Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace, CNN

Dali cargo ship now docked after it destroyed Baltimore bridge; investigations still underway

After 55 days stuck in the Patapsco River, the Dali cargo ship was hauled away from the site of its catastrophic crash into the Francis Scott Key Bridge – a crucial step toward fully reopening the busy Port of Baltimore.

12 hours ago

ROHNERT PARK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 17: In an aerial view, a sign is posted on the exterior of a Red L...

Michelle Chapman and Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Business Writers

Red Lobster seeks bankruptcy protection days after closing dozens of restaurants

Casual dining chain Red Lobster has filed for bankruptcy protection late Sunday, days after shuttering dozens of restaurants.

12 hours ago

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 20: Former U.S. President Donald Trump with attorney Todd Blanche (L) retu...

Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer

Michael Cohen says he stole from Trump’s company as defense presses key hush money trial witness

Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen admitted to jurors in the Republican’s hush money trial that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s company.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Delayed, lost or damaged luggage: What you should do