Lost luggage

Lost luggage : What should I do if an airline loses my baggage?

Sometimes you’re just unlucky. All it takes is a stopover, an error by the airline or the airport of departure… And you find yourself waiting a long time to spot your baggage on the carousel, which will sadly empty without showing any sign of it.
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely to be in for a surprise when you arrive: you are facing a lost luggage situation!

But don’t panic!
The first thing to do is to report it to the baggage services office. They will contact the departure airport, the stopover airport if there is one, and the airline. Make sure you keep all the information you get from the person you speak to – you’ll need it!
If this person does not give you the baggage loss conditions specific to the airline you have travelled with, you will need to notify the airline immediately.

Please note that you have a maximum of 21 days to report any loss or damage to your baggage on a European airline! If this is not the case, or if you do not know the nationality of the airline, check with the airline.

Step 1: Taking stock

Now that you’re without your main tool, it’s time to take stock of what’s important and what you’ll be missing immediately, bearing in mind that your luggage could be found the next day or a week later… if it is!

So you need to work through a funnel: do you have all your important papers and means of payment with you? What about the clothes you’re wearing? Will they be suitable for your environment (I found myself in Iceland wearing jeans with holes in them and little canvas trainers at 3am)?
Do you have enough to spend the night? If not, you’ll have to go and get the things you need to get organised later.

Step 2: Who to warn?

If your papers or means of payment have been lost, contact the embassy of the country you come from first, so that they can give you an emergency passport to return home, and your bank without delay.

If you have booked accommodation, you can inform your hosts of your lost luggage, they may be able to help you.

Stage 3: Regulations governing lost luggage

You now have 21 days for the airline to recover your baggage.
After this time, it will be considered lost.

When the baggage is found, you must submit a written claim within 14 or 21 days of its return, depending on the airline’s agreement (more info here: lost, delayed, or damaged baggage), enclosing all proof of expenditure (absolutely all!). Please note that after this deadline, you will no longer be able to claim anything!

Compensation ceilings

The ceilings set by international law are expressed in SDR (Special Drawing Rights).
They can be as high as 1288 SDR (or around €1667) or 22 SDR (around €28) per kg of baggage.

Please note, however, that individual airlines may have their own regulations and ceilings, particularly low-cost airlines. This is a maximum amount, not the amount you can claim, even if the costs incurred are close to the ceiling…

The airlines have 2 months in which to respond and, if necessary, compensate you.
If you have not received a reply from the airline after this period, you can refer the matter to the Tourism and Travel Ombudsman (LINK).

Step 4: Lost luggage, what to do?

Occasionally, some airlines will provide you with a ‘kit’ of essentials, including toiletries, or a credit note to cover your initial expenses, but this is extremely rare.

There are different situations depending on whether you are staying in tourist accommodation or in a bivouac.

If you are staying in an establishment, you can report the loss of your luggage. They can provide you with toiletries (toothbrush, soap, towel) for basic necessities.

If you’re planning to bivouac, don’t panic! You can find basic trekking and bivouac equipment for hire in many towns. Make sure you keep the invoices so you can pass them on to the airline later!

Next, you’ll need to do some shopping for what you’ll be missing: clothes, underwear, equipment you can’t hire…
The best thing to do at this stage is to already have information about the compensation offered by the airline. This will give you an idea of the budget you’ll be allocating to this part of your trip and the costs you’ll be incurring.

For our friends who are struggling: welcome! Can’t afford to re-equip yourself locally?
We’ll try to explain how to keep costs as low as possible.

First of all, some insurance policies (depending on the cover provided) on your means of payment (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) may compensate you if your luggage is lost if you used your bank card to book the flight. The same applies if you have taken out specific insurance with the airline: make sure you check whether you are eligible for additional compensation, as there are sometimes pleasant surprises…
If you have international travel insurance with your insurer, you may also have “lost or damaged luggage” cover: check your contracts carefully!

In some campsites near airports, it’s possible to find things that previous travellers have left behind so that you don’t have to worry about them when you get back: gas bottles, food, etc. If you strike up a conversation with visitors around you, they may be able to help you and it could be a great opportunity to meet someone!

With a piece of soap, you’ll have enough to wash and shampoo yourself (a makeshift solution, I know), as well as washing your clothes every evening and speeding up the rotation of your underwear (which will save you having to buy more…). Weather permitting, you can hang your clothes on your bag with rope and safety pins to create a portable clothes line.
*** Translated with (free version) ***

Step 5: Delivery of your baggage

Your baggage has finally been found and you’ve been notified of the good news!
Ideally, you will be able to go to the airport to collect it.
However, you may not have planned to stay in the arrival city. In this case, the airline can arrange for the baggage to be delivered to you.
Your itinerary must therefore be communicable, so that you can give a precise delivery address and a time when you can collect the baggage. You must also be contactable during office hours, for at least 1 hour a day. If you’re in an area where coverage is minimal, try to keep this in mind for your itinerary.

If you’re bivouacking, you won’t be able to give a precise address. But you will be able to find campsites or hostels around you that will be able to collect your luggage and hold it for you at reception (you will need to ask their permission beforehand), where you can collect it during the day.

You’re now ready for adventure, even without a rucksack 😉

If you have any questions or if we’ve forgotten anything, don’t hesitate to write to us, we’d love to hear from you.

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