You`ve decided to make a trip somewhere, like I did recently when coming to Australia. Coming from Europe to Australia, you make a few stops. My stops were London and Singapore, why am I mentioning them? Well, the disadvantage of having stopovers is… you guessed it, your luggage may get delayed or lost.
What happened on my trip to Australia?
I checked in at Brussels airport for my flight to London, but when it was time to board, our plane hadn`t arrived yet. Slightly getting alarmed, as I knew we had one hour and 50 minutes in London to make our connecting flight. Normally around 2 hours in London should be sufficient, but Heathrow has become a challenge to get through as it`s a busy airport. Especially when you have to change terminals. By the time the plane arrived, we were already running 30 minutes late. Not to worry I thought, still enough time. But when the pilot didn`t get our plane up in the air until another 30 minutes later, I started to get stressed. Less than an hour, not just for us, BUT also for our luggage to make it from one plane to another.
When we finally touched down in London Heathrow an hour later, we ran to our other plane. Coming across another issue, the monitors were out of order, meaning we had to ask someone to find where our plane was. Finally making it to our connecting flight, something in the back of mind was saying: “Hope the luggage made it”.
Fast forward to arriving in Australia, waiting at the carousel, we came to the sad conclusion our luggage was not there when the carousel stopped. Paying a visit to the airline desk, taught us it was still in London! Not really what you want to hear after being awake for 48 hours and all you want to do is have a shower and change into fresh clothes.
So, what to do when your luggage doesn`t arrive?
- When the carousel has stopped and your luggage is not there, go to the airline desk for delayed, lost and damaged luggage, so they can open a file for you
- You`ll need your boarding pass and your luggage tags (with bar codes) you got when you checked in
- You`ll get asked questions like what does your luggage look like, brand, etc
- You`ll get a number for your file with a contact telephone number you can call to inform about your luggage later on
- If you`re lucky, you`ll get an emergency bag with toiletries (We did not get this!)
- That`s it, now you wait and hope they`ll deliver your suitcase sooner rather than later
Some airlines offer a voucher or prepaid credit card to buy necessities. But there was nothing mentioned like that when I reported my delayed luggage. And this is why I`m happy I have great travel insurance. When making it to my accommodation, I called my insurance company to see if I was insured for incidents like this (as I recently changed my policy). And guess what, they reimburse your expenses up until a limit of course. You just have to get the bill(s) and proof from the airline your luggage was delayed, to them. They`ll have a look and will notify you of what you`ll get reimbursed. My insurance replied quickly and within a weeks’ time I had my money back from the toiletries and first necessities I bought.
Some tips to make all of this easier:
- Make sure your bags are labeled with your name/address
- Having a photo of your luggage might help when you`re describing your bags
- Don`t put your boarding pass too far away and don`t lose your luggage tags, this is proof and an easy way for them to track your luggage
- Make sure you get proof of the report they made for further reference (either when discussing with the airline or insurance). It also doesn`t hurt to have the name of the person that assisted you at the desk.
- Ask when you can expect your luggage
- Ask if there is any compensation
- Make sure you keep all the receipts of things you had to buy to get through the first hours/days
- Follow up the next day to see what`s happening
- Keep your valuables in your carry-on, as well as medicines for when something like this happens
- Have an extra outfit in your carry-on so you have something to get you through the first day. This way you don`t have the hassle of having to stop by at shops, spend money when all you want to do is sleep after a long journey.
As this may read like a sales pitch for travel insurance, it`s not. It`s a first hand experience of what can happen and how happy I was having my travel insurance.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License – based on a work at commons.wikimedia.org
Keith Kellett says
I still have the shirt Alitalia bought for me … don’t think I have the socks and underwear any more, though. And, I think I gave what was left of the (excellent) toilet kit to my niece. They found my bag that evening … and, when I got back to the hotel, it had been delivered to my room!
Well at least you have some memories of your adventure 😉 Glad they sorted it out so quickly.
Great advice! My luggage has been lost a few times. Once I went to Pisa for a long weekend. The van delivering my luggage met me getting on the bus back to the airport. Wondeful!
Oh no! That`s horrible. The worst thing is, if it takes too long, you can only pack so much in your carry-on as extra clothing. Usually my carry-on is filled with electronic gear for the reason that I definitely don`t want that to be “delayed” or even worse lost! How did you do it? Did you have to buy new things?
Vanessa (@turnipseeds) says
Great advice! I’m a massive advocate of carry-on only luggage, but I know that it’s not always possible. I’d advice putting your basic contact information INSIDE the bag, as well as on the luggage tag. Tags often get torn off and the staff will often open the bag to search through it for a clue to your identity.
Ideally, avoid basic black, but if you do have a dark/neutral color suitcase, consider using a contrasting color compression strap around it. Easier to spot, less likely to be taken away by mistake, helps keep you bag together. Bright colored luggage tags can also help.
I also carry with me a “lost bag” flyer, with several photos of my bag, it’s dimensions, it’s intended travel path, and my contact info. Will save you TONS of time and grief when you have to go to the lost luggage office. And it makes their job easier. There’s a world of difference between panicky travellers saying they have a medium black bag, and an organized person showing what color charcoal it is, what the logo on it looks like, and it’s exact dimensions.
Thanks for the tips Vanessa. Sounds like you`re a pro at this, very well organized.