It’s never good when the airlines lose your bag, especially when it’s at the start of a trip. My luggage recently went missing for a grand total of 19 days, which meant I had nothing but the clothes on my back for my whole holiday.
A very late flight cancellation, re-routing, a missed connection due to delays and more conspired against me. Here is my experience and some tips on the process and how you can avoid this happening to you.
Airlines Lose Bags
It’s a fact, sometimes your checked luggage will go missing. I have had it happen before on two or three occasions, always on the way home though as luck would have it.
All you need to do is report the bag at your destination. You will then receive a tracking number and you can monitor progress online. Once it’s found, it will be sent to the closest airport to you and couriered on at no cost. Usually it’s seamless and you have the bag back after a few days.
The Odyssey of My Bag
Long story short, I missed a connection in Glasgow and there were no seats until the following day. I was then to fly to Sydney the day after that on another airline altogether as it was the only way to get me where I was going. When in Scotland, I asked about the bag and the handling agents Menzies and Swissport both let me have a look (escorted) in their baggage rooms, which were piled high with bags waiting on owners. Needless to say, mine was nowhere to be seen.
Next day I flew to London and asked there. The representative said, “the bag was last tagged in Dublin – report it in Sydney when you get there as it’s your final destination.” This I did, but the Menzies rep in Sydney refused to give me a tracking number as he “needed to clear it with Qatar Airways”.
Two days later, I e-mailed Menzies in Sydney and also raised it with Aer Lingus in Dublin. There was no reply, so I enjoyed my holiday as best I could and headed back home. On the way back I asked again in London and they could not find the tag anywhere in the system. After much discussion (where I was told to ask Qatar Airways) we decided it might be in Glasgow.
Finally, I got back to Dublin and found Aer Lingus have automatic kiosks to report missing bags. Scanned the bag tag, then it asked for the boarding pass. Since it had been 14 days since I flew, it didn’t accept the boarding pass, so I used the one I had just flown in on. It spat out a tracking number and that was that.
I landed mid-morning on a Friday and when I got home, I sent an e-mail to Menzies in Glasgow just in case. Never received a response, but I noticed the next day there was “Forwarding Information Available” in the online record.
Turns out that only a few hours after my bag was in the system, they had found it, then put it on the next flight to Dublin. There it sat for four more days (a lot of bags are currently AWOL) before being couriered to me. A happy ending!
The reason no-one could find my bag is because when I checked in at Glasgow Airport the next day, the check-in agent did not add my baggage tag details into the system. She didn’t ask me and I didn’t offer it, despite me pointing out I had missed a connection the day before. Had it been there, the computer would have seen that the owner of the bag had gone to Sydney and it would have been sent along after me.
Since I had zero bags associated with me for the flights to Sydney, that is presumably why Menzies in Sydney did not put it into the system. Technically Qatar Airways had a passenger with no bag travelling, so why would they allow it to go into the system? They didn’t lose it, so that’s fair, however from a customer standpoint it’s really bad.
It meant that despite reporting it at all stages along the way, no-one had actually put it into WorldTracer. Airlines lose bags all the time and WorldTracer is pretty foolproof in my experience. Had Menzies in Sydney added in the report, it would have matched the tag and I would have had the bag after a few days.
1. Keep your bag tag with you until you have your bag in your hands.
2. If you miss your connection, make sure your baggage tag details have been added to your new flight. You can tell on your boarding pass, it will say PCS (short for pieces of baggage) 0 if no bag is associated with you. It may also say BAGS instead of PCS, depending on your airline.
3. Report your baggage at your final destination and get a tracking number.
4. Be patient and don’t panic. Once you have the WorldTracer tracking number, check all the details are correct and then wait. At the moment, lots of bags are lost. It will come back to you, but you won’t hear anything from anyone until it’s found, then the only way you’ll know is by seeing “Forwarding Information Available” in the record. Even I didn’t cop on to the fact that this meant the bag was found and being sent on at first.
5. Contact your travel insurance provider. Usually if your bag is delayed by 12 hours or more, you can claim for necessities, depending on the level of your insurance. Keep all receipts!
6. Your bag is deemed lost after 21 days and you can claim for its replacement. Even if they return it to you later, you’re eligible to claim it lost and get the financial compensation after 21 days, so do this immediately if you’re able. The win/win would be getting the compensation then the bag arriving down the line.
7. Did I mention be patient and don’t panic? Contacting the airline, going to the airport daily and generally bothering people is not going to make your bag appear much faster if at all. As long as you have that tracking number for WorldTracer, you’ve done all you need to do. Wait, wait and wait some more. It will come back to you.
It’s painful when airlines lose your bag. Lately it has been happening a lot more than usual, so bags are delayed more than they usually would be. All you can do is wait and claim on your insurance for necessities.
The other top tip, by the way, is to make sure you have a tag on the outside of your bag. This should have your name, home address, mobile number and e-mail address on it. If all else fails, someone will see that and contact you.
Anyone travelling point to point should not unduly worry. Most bags are lost when flight connections are involved, so build some padding into your schedule. Hopefully this will help minimise something untoward occurring.
Have the airlines lost your bag recently? What happened and how long did it take to get it back? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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One thing I learned the hard way is, NEVER check bags at the curb. Every time I have had a lost bag when flying domestically, it was checked in curbside. Since I have started always checking bags at the ticket counter, I have not had a lost bag.
Great advice there! I’ve never checked a bag at the kerb in the USA, and after reading this, never will. Thanks for that!
After Delta mishandled (love the euphemism but technically the bag was delayed, not lost) my bag on a long vacation several years ago my suitcase took 6 days to arrive in Crete. Since then I’ve traveled with a swimsuit, an extra pair of underwear, and a fresh shirt in my carryon. I’ve also become accustomed to having a packing cube in my wife’s luggage and vice versa.It’s a bit of an annoyance but it’s cheap insurance. Apple Itags are nice as well.
Yes, I was lucky in that I had packed miniature toiletries in my carry-on for a shower along the way. They ended up being what I used for the entire trip. I had no extra clothes though, so my first port of call when I arrived was a department store. I didn’t even have a jacket and it was the middle of winter in Sydney. What it has taught me is how few clothes I really need when heading to visit the family in Australia. I got by on three t-shirts, two pairs of jeans, four pairs of underwear, one… Read more »
Many family members have had missing bags in the US recently and had to wait 5-6 days to get them at the beginning of the trip! All infant diapers were in one of the bags on one trip!
Even a family member of mine had the same thing, they flew from the UK to Sydney and their bags got lost. 5 or 6 days seems to be the norm. The main thing is they managed to get it back really. I feel for the poor people who lose them for good.
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