Is your baggage delayed, lost or damaged?  What you should do

Is your baggage delayed, lost or damaged? What you should do

(CNN) – Just give those already nervous about the chaos in the skies one more reason to pop an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost or damaged luggage.

The concern is valid.

Handing over checked bags can almost seem like a leap of faith these days.

How serious is the problem?

As of May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 unloaded bags were handled improperly. That figure rose to 0.56 per 100 bags planned in May 2022.

With 0.93 bags per 100 on the plane, regional carrier Republic Aiways Republic Airlines recorded the highest number of mishandled bags in May 2022 among the 17 U.S. airlines in the report. Republic operates flights to American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express).

However, this still allows more than 99 out of 100 bags to go where they needed to go without incident.

Unclaimed suitcases are collected at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 baggage claim on July 8, 2022. Such scenes have people wondering how to avoid such a mess.

Unclaimed suitcases are collected at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 baggage claim on July 8, 2022. Such scenes have people wondering how to avoid such a mess.

PAUL ELLIS / AFP via Getty Images

Scott Keyes, the founder of and flight deals tAdvisory site ravel Scott’s Cheap Flights, said it is encouraging people not to let news of baggage problems put them off flights and vacations.

“Any lost bag is a huge disruption for people whose bag is – and I certainly don’t want to minimize that – but I want people to have the correct perspective that in the vast majority of cases, your flight will fly and your checked baggage. it will come, “he told CNN Travel.

Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, sees better days ahead of her.

“As staff improve, more pilots are trained and the frequency of flights increases, we will see this problem start to disappear,” he told CNN Travel in an email.

In the meantime, you are not entirely helpless. There are things you can do and strategies you can adopt to avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost or delayed baggage.

Before going to the airport

Book direct flights: If you’re really worried about your hold luggage, prioritize direct flights or at least layovers with a generous amount of time, Keyes said.

“The exchanges are very likely to get lost in that transfer between planes at the time of connection, especially if there is a close connection.” And he said that’s doubly so for international flights with close connections.

Consider discounted airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose luggage than discounted airlines, which tend to have more direct flights that are less likely to lose baggage in transit.

Legacy airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based solely on that, but it’s “an interesting side factor to consider”.

Suitcases roll onto a Sundair A320 plane at Dresden International Airport in Germany.  Take a photograph of your luggage.  It might come in handy later.

Suitcases roll onto a Sundair A320 plane at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a photograph of your luggage. It might come in handy later.

Robert Michael / picture alliance / Getty Images

Take pictures of your baggage 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 thing the offices of the airlines will ask you what is the brand of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag. “

He also said that people should lay out what they plan to pack on the bed and take a picture of that too. If the bag gets lost, this helps create a content record.

Use baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your baggage in their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your baggage is on the flight with you, or at least give you information on where your baggage is in the event of a delay.” Scott’s Cheap Flights said in an e-mailed press release.

Twidale says you can set up independent monitoring yourself. One option is called AirTag and it connects to an Apple device so you can track the location of the tag.
Also correctly identify your suitcases inside: The Travelers United consumer advocate group claims to put your information inside as well, in case your outside tag gets ripped off. Hoban makes the same suggestion.

“I had a bag removed from the ride at Salt Lake Airport [City]. Fortunately, I knew the people who took my bag, so it was easy to change it, “he said.” But still, what if I didn’t know those people? What if they were complete strangers and brought my bag home? Hopefully they are good honest people and they see I have a name and phone number in my bag that they can call me and let me know the mistake. “

Samantha Brown has traveled the world as a TV host for 20 years. She often she only takes one carry-on and offers her best advice for packing her bags. First tip: go with a hard suitcase

The power of hand luggage: Airlines cannot lose bags that never check in. Twidale suggests that you pack your bags as light as possible and only use hand luggage. You will save time leaving the airport and have more peace of mind.

Review your credit card coverage: Before purchasing additional travel insurance, Keyes suggested checking your credit card policy for travel protection.

You may receive additional compensation (for what the airlines do not cover) not only for lost baggage, but also for refunds for things you may need to purchase while you wait for your baggage.

At the airport before your flight

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

“Don’t force the system. The slightest delay can have serious consequences when your baggage is navigating the conveyor belt and is selected for a time-limited security review,” says its website.

Works again with the phone’s camera: Keyes suggested that just before delivering the checked bags, April and take a picture.

“If your bag gets lost and you have valuables in there … having a photograph of what was in it will really strengthen your lawsuit to get compensation after the fact.”

Check the destination of your baggage tag: Travelers United also recommends that you double-check your airline baggage tags and make sure they go where you are going, especially if you are checking in on the curb. And the North Carolina Consumer Council reminds people to keep their baggage claim ticket or sticker.

If your baggage is delayed

Discover other points of the airport: If your suitcases are not on the designated pickup carousel, The Points Guy’s 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 get the aforementioned monitoring apps to work.

Report your problem and fill out the forms at the airport: If your bags have not shown up, please notify the airline.

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

Let the airline deliver your bags: Keyes said that if an airline is able to locate your bags but it will take hours for them to arrive, make sure the representatives have the address where you will be and use the airline’s delivery service.

Keep your receipts: “If you buy anything to get you through your days without luggage, from a new bathing suit to toothpaste, keep your receipts. You may need these to be reimbursed,” advises Scott’s Cheap Flights.

If your luggage is lost

Suitcases can really pile up in a baggage claim area, like this one in Hamburg, Germany.  If your baggage is lost, you can get compensation.

Suitcases can really pile up in a baggage claim area, like this one in Hamburg, Germany. If your baggage is lost, you can get compensation.

Jonas Walzberg / picture-alliance / dpa / AP

If the airline doesn’t help: “If the airline is dragging its feet on compensation … don’t be afraid to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation,” Keyes said of the US airlines. You can file a claim here.

“They have a special aviation law enforcement office where they are much more proactive in protecting consumers and trying to crack down on airlines when they don’t provide customers with the kind of compensation or reimbursement they are required to do. according to federal laws “.

Limits of Liability: There are small print, exceptions, and paperwork / documentation obstacles, 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 they are not obligated to do so. For international flights, that figure is $ 1,780. Find out more from the DOT here.
Damaged bags: If you see that your baggage is damaged while you are still at the airport, report it there. Airlines are not required to pay for damage to items caused by improper packaging, according to the DOT, nor are they responsible for “certain categories of items (for example: fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items …)”

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

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