When you’re really looking forward to a relaxing trip, the least you’d want is to lose your check-in baggage. Well, in all honesty, there could be worse circumstances, of course, but losing your check-in baggage is somewhere in there!
My check-in baggage was delayed twice in the span of the last year that is 2018, so I know how exhausting it can be! It’s a harrowing experience when you are in a new country completely clueless of when you are gonna get your baggage back. At least when it happens for the first time. It was an awful experience and I wouldn’t want to go through that feeling again. But when it happened the second time, I was all prepared and excited to go shopping at Macy’s in New York!
Read on to find out how to be prepared and better tackle the situation if in case you are in a similar situation in the future.
Well, let me fill you in on my use case. Kuwait Airways lost my check-in baggage and it didn’t arrive in Rome when I landed there in February last year. I had no clue what to do and what the process is gonna be like. Which is why I didn’t go shopping until my third travel day. That’s when I found out that I had rights and whatever travel expenses I incur during this time, the airline is bound to cover it. I wasn’t sure though if all my bills, if any, would be reimbursed. So, I was skeptical about shopping too much.
They did reimburse all my bills, however, I had a horrible experience with the airline. My baggage was delayed by Kuwait Airways for around 15 days and I didn’t have my baggage for the majority of my trip. I didn’t get any additional compensation for all the pain it caused me either. Probably the only middle-eastern flight which sucks BIG TIME. I wouldn’t suggest booking flights with them.
The next time was a breeze though when I lost my baggage again. This time it was when I landed in New York and thanks to Delta Airways! I found out that I’ll get my baggage delivered the next evening. So, I used my next morning to shop at Macy’s (I’ve always wanted to shop there). I was planning to spend around USD 50 (per day limit mentioned on their website). But ended up overshooting my budget to USD 150. Luckily, they reimbursed it. However, I later found out that the actual limit is much higher.
Additional Tip: Click here to earn Upto 600 EUR in delayed or canceled flights that you might have had in the last 6 years within/from/to Europe!
Why does Baggage Loss or Delay Happen?
Mishandling of baggage has reduced significantly in recent years according to SITA’s annual baggage report. But baggage is still mishandled at the rate of 40 per minute, worldwide. Majority of which happens during transfers. Thanks to the shift in baggage tracking capabilities, airlines have been able to provide a faster and reliable customer experience during the mishandling of baggage. At least, most airlines try to. That’s what differentiates the good ones from the rest, anyway.
Head to the Lost Baggage Counter and File a Property Irregularity Report (PIR)
Once you realize your baggage isn’t available in the conveyor belt, head to the lost baggage counter. Every airport has a lost baggage counter which handles cases of lost or delayed baggage. Keep the baggage tags and your flight ticket handy as you’d have to produce it to airline staff.
You’ll be required to provide your local address, email, telephone number if available, for communication purposes.
I read somewhere that you can ask the airline staff for an overnight kit, and an allowance. It’s not guaranteed, but hey, there’s no harm in asking, right?! I’ve not tried it so far, but maybe I’ll try it next time (given my streak, it’s bound to happen sooner or later). Also, check with the airline staff on what’s the limit on the expenses they are willing to cover. This can give you a rough idea of what to expect from the airlines.
Handy Tip: Take a picture of all your checked-in baggage prior to departure. Baggage is usually tracked through the baggage tags, and the airport officials don’t ask for a picture of your bag. But have a picture for your benefit.
Also, take a picture of everything – baggage tags, tickets, PIR, and have a soft copy of the travel insurance too. Use CamScanner for this purpose. This way, I have a soft copy of everything just in case I lose some documents later.
Track Your Baggage
You’ll be given a PIR number which is used to track your baggage. Please note down the PIR number as it is used for future reference. Also, ask for a contact number for future communication purposes. Sometimes, airlines also provide an online link for you to track your baggage. I came across this site which claims to be a global bag tracing system. So, give it a go if you end up losing your bag in the future.
Delta Airlines had its own internal baggage tracking system through which I tracked my baggage. This time I knew exactly where my baggage was, so it lifted a lot of confusion from my head.
What to do next?
Once you have filed PIR, your work is done, for now. Await communication from your airline on the whereabouts of your baggage. Usually, airlines would send in your baggage in their next flight out which could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Now, if you have an overnight stay without your check-in baggage, it’s time to go shopping!
Before that, go through the airline website and verify their policies for delayed baggage.
Collect your Baggage
The airline staff usually informs by e-mail or phone once your baggage has reached the destination, and is out for delivery. Provide a reliable address where it’ll be possible to collect the baggage upon delivery to avoid further confusion.
Usually, within 21 days of losing the baggage, you are supposed to raise a claim with the respective airlines. Make sure you have all the bills in order.
Collect all the shopping bills
Airlines ideally provide reimbursement for the expenses caused during the absence of your baggage. So make sure you check the respective website for more details in case of delay or loss of baggage.
Make sure you collect all the shopping bills and take a picture as well.
What bills are reimbursed?
Anything reasonably needed during travel would be reimbursed. Of course, food bills, furniture, electronics as such won’t come under this purview. Clothing items, makeup, toiletries, would be considered for reimbursement. Once the airline approves your claim, they will request your bank details.
I received compensation of around 100 Kuwait Dirhams (USD 320 or Rs. 20,000) from Kuwait Airways for a baggage delay of around 15 days. Also, note that, as per their website, Delta Airlines had a limit of USD 50 per day for baggage delay but they compensated me for USD 150 (Rs. 10,000) for a 1-day delay. Another point worth mentioning here is that both of them only compensated for the bills I produced, nothing more.
Documents to produce to the airlines
Here are the documents that I produced to the airlines while claiming compensation for delayed baggage:
- Flight tickets
- Boarding Pass
- Travel Insurance
- Baggage Tag
- PIR (Property Irregularity Report)
- Visa Stamps on Passport
- Bank Statements
- Canceled Cheque
- Shopping Bills
I made an online copy of all of these in the CamScanner app which helped me sort out documents later.
Once the airline approved my claim, they asked for my bank details. For international money transfer, you need to provide a SWIFT code from the airlines. Some banks don’t have a SWIFT code. So make sure you provide bank details which have SWIFT code as it’s essential for international money transfer.
How long does it take to receive reimbursement
This would vary depending on the airline, of course. But generally around a month from the date of submission of claim would be a good place to start.
What about Travel Insurance?
Both times, I have claimed with both the airlines and travel insurance companies. And I’ve received compensation from both of them. Travel insurance companies usually ask if you have received compensation from an airline. I usually apply for claims together, at which point I wouldn’t have already received compensation from the airline. Ideally, I’m not really sure if insurance companies are going to compensate if already compensated by airlines. I’ll update it here when I find more about it.
Handy things to keep in Cabin Baggage
Always pack your Cabin baggage such that you can manage without your check-in baggage for a couple of days.
Here are a few things to pack in your cabin baggage:
- Extra pair of clothes
- Makeup kit (if necessary)
Read: Delayed Baggage Compensation and What Airline Really Owes You
If you are prepared for this eventuality, it could be an enjoyable experience. You could get to shop when you travel at someone else’s expense when you are in a new country. That’s always amazing. Isn’t it?
If you have any questions regarding this subject, feel free to drop a line below. I’ll try my best to answer your questions.