What To Do When Your Luggage Is Lost And How To Avoid It

What To Do When Your Luggage Is Lost And How To Avoid It

Have you ever thought, "I really hope they don't lose my bags," while you're checking in for a flight?  We all have and losing your luggage is the pits. Here are a few tips to help keep you happy and keep your stuff safe.

While I'm at it, paying for baggage stinks too. The days of "bags fly free" aren't coming back anytime soon. In fact, revenue collected from bag fees have made it even more important for the airlines to get it right. Shout out to the airlines for having improved from 7 lost bags per 1000 passengers in 2007 to just 3.24 per 1000 in 2015. 

A recent study by a trade group showed that about 95% of that missing luggage gets back to where it belongs - eventually. But this still leaves a problem: lots of people without clean clothes to change into and too many valuables gone missing.

How does luggage go missing? The same group that did the study above found that the transfer process accounts for about half of all the lost bags. The luggage handlers just don't have enough time to get your baggage from one flight to the next. This presents an easy fix for the airlines - they will usually put your bags on the next flight to the same destination. Human error accounts for another 20 percent of lost bags. The worker just missed loading the bag, employee turnover, your bag went to get some pizza, - it happens.

If you're making a career in tourism & hospitality, chances are you love to travel and you want your customers to have great experiences too. The airline controls the process but there are some things you can do to have a better trip.

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Before you check your bag.

Take a picture. "The more details a customer can give the agent regarding the size, shape, color and other details of the bag, the better," Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish recently told Conde Nast Traveler

Drop your business card in the bag before zipping up. The ID tag on the outside the bag can get ripped off, so make sure your contact information is inside, too. Try putting a note with your name and phone number right on top of your clothes.

Remove the old tags. These can confuse employees and electronic scanners. 

Put the most important things in your carry-on. This would include your medicine, keys, jewelry and laptop.

Use a tracker. They are now plenty of these available to purchase online and in stores so you can put a simple little fob or "dot" device inside your bag and get real time tracking updates on your phone.

Pick your airline carefully. Check the government baggage statistics to figure out the odds that your bag will turn up where and when it is supposed to. Some airlines do better than others. For every 1000 passengers, American was 4 times more likely to mishandle your bag than Virgin America. 

 

What to do when your bag disappears

Tell someone right away. Resist the urge to just make a phone call and be on with your day. Go right to the airport baggage office. Joe Brancatelli, founder of Joe Sent Me, a site for business travelers said, "You want to go to the office to file the paper report and have a copy."

Be calm and ask the airline for some money. Most of the major carriers offer some sort of reimbursement for "reasonable interim expenses." American allows employees to reimburse travelers for these expenses on a case-by-case basis with the airline deciding how much is appropriate. Southwest will ask for receipts so they can reimburse you for toiletries, clothing and other items. Delta will pay up to $50 per day for five days. "Be kind and be reasonable," said Stephen Ekstrom of The Tourism Academy. "Make it easy and painless for the airline representative who's helping you. The airline isn't going to pay for a wild shopping spree, especially if they were able to return your bag to you in under 48 hours."

Negotiate with a smile. Most airline representatives have some discretion when deciding how best to fix the problem. "You can say no to the first offer," said Ekstrom. "It's a negotiation. If they offer 10, let them know with a wink and a grin that 20 would make you much happier and 30 has just enough room to get a fresh cup of coffee for a busy airline employee."

Call your credit card companies. Travel blogger Gary Leff points out that some cards offer lost baggage protection, with quite a few allotting around $100 per day for reimbursement.

Contact your credit card company. Some cards offer lost baggage protection, travel blogger Gary Leff says, with many allotting around $100 per day for reimbursement.

Ask the airline to refund your bag fee. Delta offers up travel certificates worth $25 per bag, up to two bags as a rebate.

Be persistent. "The bag will turn up when it turns up," Brancatelli pointed out. The local baggage office may not be available to call you immediately. So, give them a call. Be friendly and always let the rep know that you appreciate their help. It may get you a quicker response.

Be patient, even if the bag is lost in space. According to The U.S. Department of Transportation, travelers may wait four weeks to three months before receiving payment from an airline. Government rules say that domestic travelers and receive up to $3,330 but many people receive far less. "There's a formula somewhere for this stuff. Airlines will consider the depreciated value of your stuff, not how much you paid or how much a replacement costs," Ekstrom reminds travelers.

Share these quick tips with your customers to create your own professional training.

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