Lost Your Luggage? Here's What To Do Now

Have You Misplaced Your Luggage? Here's What You Should Do Now

Every year, more than 25 million passengers report misplaced luggage. Airlines are getting better at locating your bags before they disappear forever, but if you do end up losing a bag, there’s no need to panic. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what happens when an airline loses your luggage.

What Happens To Lost Luggage?

When you're traveling, it's easy to let your guard down and assume that if your luggage is lost or damaged, the airline will take care of everything.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

The only thing an airline can do if they lose your bag is to reimburse you for the contents inside your bag and/or pay out a small claim prize (in most cases). They will not help find or get back any of your belongings that were packed into an unclaimed piece of luggage.

As long as 24 hours have passed since you checked in at the airport and they still haven't found your bag, call them directly or go through the lost luggage claim at the airport—they may be able to offer assistance in locating it before it hits their warehouse or gets shipped overseas for distribution around the world!

How Can I Find My Lost Luggage?

How Can I Find My Lost Luggage?

If you've lost your luggage, there are a few ways to track it down during the baggage search process.

Go to the baggage claim office

If you've lost your luggage, the first step is to go to the baggage claim office.

The staff will try to help you find it if it's delayed baggage and if they can't, they'll file a claim with their airline.

If that doesn't work and you still haven't received an email from them or anyone else, it's time to start getting down on bended knee before your favorite deity of choice (or just God) and begging for mercy.

If your bag has been missing for more than 24 hours—and even if it hasn't—you should call up whoever was responsible for its transportation in the first place: either a cab company (if you took one home), or Amtrak (if you took public transit).

Follow up with the airline and central baggage office

You should call the airline and ask for the baggage claim department or visit the baggage desk and make a baggage compensation claim. There is also a baggage claim web portal. A person in customer service will help you out. You can also try the follow-up phone number

When you call, keep a record of who you spoke to and what they told you. Record when and where they said this information, too.

You may want to keep notes on each conversation so that it's easy to refer back to later if necessary.

If you have any questions about your flight or baggage claim process, feel free to ask them; they might not be able to answer everything right away, but it's always worth asking!

How To Make Sure Your Luggage Doesn’t Get Lost?

How To Make Sure Your Luggage Doesn’t Get Lost

The best way to avoid losing your luggage is to always keep it with you. This can be difficult if you are traveling during the holidays, as there are many people and distractions. However, it is still possible to keep control of your bags by keeping them in the overhead bin or in front of you on the plane or bus. If necessary, tie-down your bag so it does not move around too much when the vehicle is moving.

Keep the essentials with you

If you think your luggage is lost, keep the essential items with you. This is the list of items:

  • Passport
  • Wallet/money (cash, credit cards, and IDs)
  • Phone
  • Boarding pass

Don’t lose your baggage claim tickets

If you lose your baggage claim ticket, your airline may be able to help. But not all airlines have the same policy on lost tickets.

Some will only replace a lost ticket if you pay for another one in full, while others will reimburse you for the cost of the original ticket plus any additional costs associated with recovering it (such as buying an entirely new suitcase).

If your flight was canceled and you didn’t get a replacement claim form or receipt, it is possible that your airline won't be able to help at all.

If this happens and you want to file an insurance claim against them anyway, they might require proof of purchase such as receipts or credit card statements showing where and when the fraudulent charge occurred so that they can issue the appropriate reimbursement.

Know what you packed

If you can't find your lost baggage, there are a few steps you can take to help track it down. First, it's important to know what was in your luggage.

Make a list of the items in the bag (if it's a large bag, be sure to include the contents of all compartments), then take pictures of them so that if they get lost or stolen, you have proof that they belonged to you.

Next, take pictures of the outside of your bag so that if it gets stolen or misplaced by another traveler at an airport or train station, security will be able to identify it as yours and return it promptly.

Travel on direct flights and avoid short layovers

The best way to avoid a lost-luggage situation is by traveling nonstop.

Nonstop flights are more expensive than indirect ones, but they're worth it if you can afford them. Nonstops are faster, more convenient, and less stressful than layovers.

If you travel with a connecting flight, there's a chance your bags will get misrouted and end up in another city.

A nonstop flight means no potential for this kind of mishap; all you have to do is go straight from point A to point B without stopping along the way!

Nonstops are also more comfortable because they don't involve changing planes at an airport. Short layovers mean sitting in uncomfortable chairs for hours on end before getting on another plane—and let's face it: that doesn't sound very pleasant at all!

Prep your travel bags

To make sure that your bag doesn't disappear, it's important to prepare it correctly before you leave. If you're only traveling for one or two nights, pack everything the night before.

If you're going abroad for longer than three days, pack a week or so in advance and make sure that someone can take care of your pet in case something goes wrong with your trip.

Do Airlines Reimburse You For Lost Luggage?

  • Airlines won't reimburse you for lost luggage, but they will if they're at fault (which is rare). If your bag isn't found within 24 hours of your flight's arrival, American Airlines will pay up to $3,300 to replace any items inside the bag on international flights. Delta and United Airlines have similar policies that can be read online or asked about at the airport.
  • You may be able to sue if the airline's negligence caused your lost luggage. If a TSA agent opens your checked luggage without permission, for instance, you could consider suing the TSA and/or its parent company as well as the airline that lost it on account of their negligence in handling security measures properly.*

There Are Steps You Can Take To Minimize The Pain

  • Keep the essentials with you. If you have to leave your belongings at baggage claim, make sure you have a phone charger, some money, and a toothbrush with you so that it's not necessary for you to wait around for hours waiting for your luggage.
  • Don't lose your baggage claim tickets; they're important! You'll need them if there is an issue with your luggage or its location.
  • Know what's in each piece of luggage before it gets on the plane—this way, if anything gets lost or damaged while traveling through security checkpoints, there won't be any surprises when unpacking later down the road (and hopefully there won't be too many tears shed).
  • Check-in early for international flights or any domestic flight; airlines are more likely to compensate passengers who arrive at least two hours before departure time than those who show up right before boarding begins.* Travel on nonstop flights and avoid short layovers.* Pack light—the fewer bags that need checking in means less risk of losing one during transit.* Prepare travel bags ahead of time: remove valuables from checked bags prior to checking them and pack small items such as toiletries inside carry-on bags where they won't get lost during security checks.* Do airlines reimburse customers for lost/damaged luggage? It depends on what type of ticket was purchased--some offer full refunds and others partial payments based on factors such as ticket cost and length of stay at the destination


We hope you enjoyed this post and that it helped you learn what to do when your luggage gets lost and get peace of mind.

If this happens to you, remember these tips—especially the ones about checking in early and taking care of your baggage claim tickets!

Your misplaced luggage may not be where it should be right now, but hopefully, these steps will help get it back on track.

You can share your baggage story in the comments.

About this Guide

Written By Alex
Last Updated On November 23, 2022
Reading Time 
8 minutes
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