We have all heard horror stories. When suddenly the baggage carousel beeps, you are the last one standing. Your bag is gone. What happens if your luggage is lost by an airline?

While your instinct may be to panic, you can reduce stress by knowing what to do.

Let’s look at what to do if you lose your luggage.

How frequently do checked bags become lost?

According to the September 2022 Air Travel Consumer Report by the Department of Transportation, there were 269 083 mishandled bags during July 2022. This is 7% more than July 2021.

Although Southwest was the airline with the most mishandled luggage in July, it was a smaller percentage than the total amount of bags it had brought onboard an aircraft. American Airlines, however, mishandled fewer bags but they made up a greater percentage of all the bags it enplaned.

What should you do if your luggage gets lost or delayed

You have no control over your bag’s fate as a passenger. There are some ways that you can help make sure your luggage does not end up on the baggage claim conveyor, but overall, it is the responsibility of the airline to ensure you get your bag.

What happens if it fails to live up to its end of the deal? There are many steps that you should take.

Send a report to the airline

Do not leave the airport without completing a missing bag report. If you fly with American Airlines, this means you will need to go to American Airlines’ airport desk. This applies even to codeshare flights. If you have a Delta Air Lines booking but are flying with Air France, you will need to visit the Air France desk.

You will usually find an airline desk in the baggage claim terminal. You’ll need to give some information about your bag such as its color and size, and what type of wheels it has. You will be given a number to claim lost luggage by the airline, which you should keep. After that, you can leave the airport.


Keep your checked luggage confirmation tag, also known as a luggage claim ticket, with you at all time. This tag is often attached to your boarding pass by check-in agents.

What happens if your luggage claim ticket is lost? Although the airline should still be capable of finding your items using your ticket information, or ID, it may take longer.

Request for lost luggage to be delivered

Many airlines will deliver your luggage to you, whether it’s at your house, hotel, or vacation rental. If this is not mentioned by the agent, ask for it. This will save you the hassle of returning to the airport.

Purchase your necessities

You’ve probably packed all of your important items in your bag, including your medication. You’ll only need to buy your essentials if you have.

What are the necessities? These are not usually specified by airlines, but they will reimburse all reasonable and necessary expenses.

These are common items that should be included in

  • Clothing: socks, underwear and jackets.

  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush.

  • Medications.

  • Chargers for electronic devices.

Delta and other airlines indicate that $50 per day for necessities during the first five days of your luggage being lost is reasonable. If your luggage is reported as missing for more than 12 hours, you may be eligible to receive a rebate on the bag fee.


Keep all receipts. You’ll need them to submit your claim form.

Once you have purchased everything you will need to file a claim for reimbursement. This process varies depending on the airline. You can send some, such as the American Airlines delayed bag compensation form via email or online.

Contact your credit-card issuer

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve(r), card will reimburse you for any expenses incurred when your bag is lost or delayed by six hours or more. The card covers you for up to $100 per daily during the first five days your bag is lost.

Make a claim to your travel insurance provider

Contact your insurance provider if your trip is covered by a pre-purchased travel plan that includes baggage protection for delayed or lost baggage.

Just like your airline or credit card issuers, your insurance provider may require receipts or other documentation.

How to prevent your luggage from getting lost

It’s great to know your luggage won’t go missing and that you won’t have to worry about it. However, it’s not always fun to lose it. These are some things you can do to make it easier for yourself and the airline. These are some ways to avoid losing your luggage.

1. Remove old bag tags

Are you a frequent flyer? Do you have any old bag tags or barcodes on your luggage? Even though most airlines will take away the obvious offenders, make sure you double-check your bag to ensure there are no leftovers.

2. Use a smart GPS tag

Smart GPS tags, which are tiny devices that use cell phone to ping each other and identify their location, are small devices. You can keep one of these trackers in your bag and it will tell you where it is whenever someone walks by with an eligible device.

This can give you some peace of mind and a lot more information than what the airline will provide. Is your bag still available at the departure airport? Is it gone on a connection? An intelligent GPS tag will let you know.

3. Complete your luggage tags

It’s important that you fill out your luggage tag before you travel. While most airlines will have disposable luggage tags on hand, you can get a more durable one that can be used for multiple purposes. What should you put on your travel tags and why? Include your name, email address, and phone number.


Personalized tags can be used to help identify your luggage when you go through baggage claim.

4. Arrive on-time

Although this may sound obvious, airlines have a cutoff period after which they will not take your checked luggage. There is a gray period in which airlines will allow you to check your bag, but they won’t guarantee it’s arrival.

These tags are usually marked with a brightly-colored “late” tag. Avoid this by arriving early to avoid these tags.

Baggage loss, recapped

Nobody wants their bag to go missing after a flight. You have options to make sure your bags are safe and sound, and that you don’t end up paying out of pocket. Be sure to report any luggage issues to your airline before you leave the airport.

After that, you can purchase all necessary items for your trip including clothes and toiletries. To receive reimbursement from the airline, keep all documentation. Check to see if baggage delay insurance coverage is available if you have paid with an eligible credit card.

Reduce the chances of your luggage being lost by arriving on time and using GPS tracking tags to identify your bag.

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