We have all seen the recent reports and media coverage of a higher number of passengers separated from their checked luggage due to the mayhem taking place at airports worldwide.
We receive several emails daily from passengers whose baggage has been left behind that we cannot help (we are not an airline or their ground handling company). So here’s my take on what you should do if your luggage is delayed.
It is inevitable for those of us who travel on commercial airlines that there are sometimes delays with checked luggage, and they are not the same flight as we. So:
1. Travel Only With Carry-On
Your best bet of not being separated from your checked luggage is to travel only with a carry-on.
It never ceases to amaze me when you see someone checking two enormous bags for a weekend getaway.
Even if you travel with a carry-on however, it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t get gate checked to your final destination.
2. Only Check Items That You Can Afford To Lose
You should never check in any valuables and items you cannot afford to lose. Also, the place of your daily medications is not the checked bag.
It is always a good idea to have some clothes in your carry-on that help you to get going at your destination in case of a luggage delay.
You often see people complaining about precious items that have been stolen from their checked luggage. But, again, checked luggage is not the place for valuable electronics, jewelry, cash, or anything else that can easily be converted into monetary items.
3. Have Apple AirTags In Every Bag
I am not a huge fan of the Apple ecosystem, but AirTags do work. You essentially put a small tracker inside every bag, and you can then follow their goings on an app.
Apple AirTags rely on Bluetooth connections between various Apple products that help you see your checked bag’s exact location.
If your bag gets delayed, you don’t necessarily get it any faster, but you have a better idea of where it is and when you might have it delivered.
4. Travel Insurance
It is a good idea to have comprehensive travel insurance that not only covers lost or delayed bags but also if you get sick at your destination.
Many premium credit cards offer coverage, but they often require that you have paid most, if not all the trip using it. Check the fine print. At least in Europe, travel insurance tends to be relatively reasonably priced, and you can buy a product that covers multiple trips during the policy period. Remember to pay attention to the maximum allowed trip length and what coverage exclusions they may have.
Here’s what you need to do if your bag(s) don’t show up:
5. Property Irregularity Report (PIR)
If your checked luggage has not arrived at the destination, you need to go to the airline’s baggage office OR locate their Ground Handling Agent to file something called a Property Irregularity Report (PIR).
The airline or their agent may ask you to do this later in your home/hotel, but DO NOT LEAVE the airport before the report has been filed and you have a printed copy in your hand.
This ensures that you have documentation for filing a claim later if the luggage is completely lost or you need to be reimbursed for necessary purchases.
You need to file the PIR with the airline that operated the last segment regardless of whom you checked the bag with at your origin.
6. Buy What You Need
I hate to say this, but I have yet to come across an entirely honest airline baggage person or ground handling agent. They basically tell you something to get you out of their face.
No. Your bag won’t arrive on the next flight as you are often told. Based on my personal experiences, it tends to take 2 to 3 days.
No. The airline is not only responsible for $50 to $100 in the emergency purchases you need to make.
Buy items that you would otherwise wear. Buy appropriate gear if you are on your way to a beach holiday or a cruise. If you are in for a business meeting and need a suit, buy one.
I usually make a list of what I need for the next couple of days.
Keep in mind that if your bag is deemed lost, these emergency purchases count towards the airline’s maximum liability.
7. Check Worldtracer
Airlines use a tool called Worldtracer to handle delayed bags.
Your Property Irregularity Report contains a string of letters (three-letter airport code (MEX) followed by the airline code (AM) plus additional five numbers). You must plug these with your last name into the Worldtracer to bring up the record.
Some airlines also allow you to amend the delivery details and permanent address on the Worldtracer.
It usually shows if your luggage has been located or if tracing continues.
Even when it shows that tracing continues, your luggage can be on its way to the destination.
8. File A Claim
You must file a claim for the lost bag or expenses with the airline handling the last segment. Again, not with the airline you checked your bag in case of multiple airline itineraries.
The handling times vary considerably.
Also, if you have travel insurance, it may require you to first file with the airline and only come to the rescue if they don’t process the claim or don’t pay the total amount.
Our Previous Coverage Of Delayed Bags
- Compensation Clinic: Air France Delayed Luggage
- Fabulous Fridays: Using Apple AirTags To Track Your Checked Luggage
- Whine Wednesday: Lufthansa Lost Baggage Not Delivered For Eight Days After Being Located
- Reader Email: Delayed Checked Ski Gear On Lufthansa?
- Downside Of Checking Expensive Luggage? Thieves!
- Reader Question: Luggage Delay To Maldives On American Airlines Issued Award – Who Responsible To Pay For Expenses?
- Reader Question: How To Get Vueling Pay For Delayed Luggage Compensation?
- Compensation Clinic: Lufthansa Delayed Baggage Compensation For Emergency Purchases (First Refused To Pay Full Amount)
- Compensation Clinic: Lufthansa Delayed Baggage, Getting Replacement Items Reimbursed
- Compensation Clinic: Airberlin Delayed Luggage Claim
- Reader Question: Airberlin Delayed Luggage, Handling Agent & Wrong Information!
- Reader Question: Air France Delayed Baggage & Flight Cancellation Compensation?
- Reader Question: Philippine Airlines Luggage Delivery Delay & Compensation
- Compensation Clinic: Luggage Delay & Damage By United
- Delayed Baggage Compensation: Case Korean Air
- What to Do When Your Bag Doesn’t Arrive – File Property Irregularity Report – PIR
Completely lost bags are rare. I once had an Air Canada leave my bag for six weeks in Canada while on an around-the-world itinerary. Their baggage department never replied to any of the messages that various Air Canada offices sent to them from Europe and Asia.
My bags have been delayed numerous times but never lost.
I recently had an Air France claim where the airline paid 1,200 euros (read more here) for a delayed bag, and I am currently claiming around 800 euros from AeroMexico for another bag, for which I may have to refer to my insurance.
I got a bit lazy during the pandemic with my carry-on, which became a checked bag. I needed to throw some items away and ensure I don’t have more than the allowed amount of liquids. Not having to check a bag or wait at the baggage carousel is quite liberating.