We all know the terrible feeling when you are waiting for your checked bag to arrive by the carousel and it doesn’t.
When flying on better airlines, they typically already have somebody waiting for you with a sign, close to the baggage carousel, if your bag didn’t make it. Airlines often know if certain bags are delayed and left behind.
When baggage delay happens the first thing to do is to file a PIR – Property Irregularity Report. First you are shown a picture of various kinds of bags and asked to identify what is closest to yours. Then the airline needs your permanent and temporarily address.
Some airlines will give you an overnight kit, prepaid debit card with some money loaded, cash, or an amount that you can spend daily until your arrives but you need to bring in receipts before getting the actual cash. The amount of compensation can also depend the class of service (Economy/Business/First) or the status you have with the airline or airline alliance in question. I prefer just buying what I need and later writing an airline a reimbursement request.
When you have the file reference, which you can find on the PIR, you can use it to trace your bag. On my case it was BKKTG98852. The first three letters are always the airport in question where you filed the report. The following two are the airline or the airlines baggage handling agents identifier. On this case TG stands for Thai Airways. The last five digits are the unique number sequence for your report.
Easiest way to trace your bag is to use your favorite search engine and search for “Iata Worldtracer” + the name of the airline that handled the report. On Thai Airways case the website address is http://www.worldtracer.aero/filedsp/tg.htm. You just need to plug in the file reference and your last name.
In this case the bag arrived a day late. There was going to be a misconnect in Vienna on my way to Bangkok, and I got rerouted to a direct Thai Airways flight from London to Bangkok. Getting a bag rerouted takes always some time and obviously the folks handling the Austrian bags couldn’t get it to Thai Airways on time.