NATIONAL NEWS

Delayed, lost or damaged luggage: What you should do

Jan 24, 2024, 6:09 PM

After all, Delta Air Lines recently decided to fly a plane from London to its hub in Detroit packed...

After all, Delta Air Lines recently decided to fly a plane from London to its hub in Detroit packed with 1,000 lost bags and zero passengers because of a now-notorious meltdown in service at Heathrow Airport. (Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

(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 rough winter weather and situations such as the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft. 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.”

Suitcases roll onto a Sundair A320 aircraft at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a photograph of your luggage. It could come in handy later. (Robert Michael, picture alliance/Getty Images

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.

 

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

President John F. Kennedy slumps against his wife as the bullet from an assassin strikes him in the...

Zachary B. Wolf, CNN

Long list of presidents have been shot or shot at

Multiple presidents and former presidents and candidates for president have been attacked in US history, according to a CNN report from 2011 and a list of instances of political violence that includes attacks on senators, congressmen and governors compiled by CNN’s research library.

5 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campai...

Mark Jones

Utah leaders react to assassination attempt at Trump rally in Pennsylvania

Former President Donald Trump was rushed off a stage at a Pennsylvania rally Saturday by U.S Secret Service agents after apparent gunshots were heard in the crowd.

8 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surround by U.S. Secret Service ...

Associated Press

‘I was shot’: Trump issues statement after being whisked off stage following an apparent assassination attempt

Donald Trump was whisked off the stage at a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania after apparent gunshots rang through the crowd.

10 hours ago

FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2013 file photo, fitness guru Richard Simmons arrives at the Project Angel ...

Dan Heching, CNN

Richard Simmons, fitness personality and TV host, dead at 76, per reports

Richard Simmons, the perennial 1980s workout personality who was defined by his uplifting spirit, has died, according to multiple reports.

11 hours ago

A vending machine is pictured selling ammunition. (American Rounds, AP)...

Anissa Carby and Navya Shukla, CNN

Company debuts vending machines selling ammunition in 3 Southern states

Vending machines selling ammunition will now be in grocery stores in Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. According to the American Rounds' website, the distributor of the machines, AI technology scans the customers’ identification and facial recognition software to verify a customer’s identity.

13 hours ago

Ruth Westheimer arrives on Day One of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Cen...

AJ Willingham and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

Ruth Westheimer, sex therapist known as ‘Dr. Ruth,’ dead at 96

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the iconic sex therapist whose cheerful and disarming advice helped educate millions of Americans about sexual desires and practices, has died, her publicist Pierre Lehu told CNN on Saturday. She was 96.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

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.

Delayed, lost or damaged luggage: What you should do