Lost Luggage Advice: What to do if your holiday suitcase goes missing
“It’ll never happen to me”…. hmmm don’t be so sure! After many years of flying, I unfortunately had my first experience recently of lost luggage on holiday. Having previously travelled for years with no problems it wasn’t really something I had given much thought to before. Until it happened.
I was left feeling hopeless, staring at the carousel at Dalaman airport, a lone figure waiting for her suitcase in readiness for a half term holiday break to Turkey. I waited…. and waited…. but it never arrived. After waiting until all the bags had been taken off and after a quick sweep to make sure no-one else had mistakenly taken my bag (sorry to anyone on my flight that may have had a purple suitcase and was subjected to my checks!) I reluctantly resigned myself to the fact that although I fancied a nice week away unfortunately my suitcase had other plans.
So what do you do in this situation? Hopefully some of my advice below may help you if you find yourself a victim of lost luggage. If you’ve experienced it and have any other tips please feel free to add them!
1) If going away with a partner, pack half and half. If you have two suitcases pack half of his stuff in yours and half of your stuff in his, so that if one of the suitcases goes missing you’ll at least have half a suitcase worth of clothes to wear. You may have to argue over who gets the hair straighteners though especially with the strict luggage weight restriction imposed at airports, but at least you’ll have something to wear! I had never packed this way before my recent holiday but having experienced losing my luggage I would definately do this in the future.
2) Buy a case that looks individual or tie something to it/around it to distinguish it from others. Although all luggage passing through e.g. Gatwick is in theory trackable on a computerised system, it is helpful if your suitcase isn’t non-descript. On trying to explain what my suitcase looked like to the lady at Dalaman airport who didn’t speak English and asked me to point to pictures to describe it, I think perhaps a neon pink suitcase for example would be easier to identify as opposed to my plain dark purple one. It also helps to prevent anyone else from taking your bag by mistake.
3) Make sure you have contact details inside and outside your suitcase. I wouldn’t advise putting your address on the suitcase personally but a luggage label tag just with a name and contact number/email address should at least enable you to be contacted if the luggage is lost.
Arrival & Lost Luggage:
Once you’ve arrived at your destination and have realised that your luggage has in fact not arrived with you, there are a number of steps you need to take.
1) Go to the luggage handling counter or lost luggage desk and fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form. This is the first thing the holiday rep asked me for when I finally got out of the airport so it’s worth doing it before you go outside the airport as you’ll more than likely be sent back in to fill one out. You will have to give details of your contact details, flight number, passport and they will ask you to describe the luggage. I had to select a number of options from pictures on a sheet to identify my suitcase e.g. hard backed, with/without wheels, colour, size and so on. At Dalaman airport the person I dealt with also required the barcode information that was on the luggage receipts for the suitcase – which are the small stickers that the checking in person at the airport desk usually sticks on one of your boarding passes or passports when you check in at e.g. Gatwick. Do not lose these!!
2) If on a package holiday alert your situation to the Rep as soon as you meet them outside the airport. They will then advise of their procedure and can make sure the luggage is tracked as quickly as possible for you. In my case, I travelled to the hotel and then filled out another form for Thomas Cook, gave them the PIR form and was given a sheet advising what the procedure was. I made sure I took a contact number for the Rep also so I could get an update on whether my bag was found/when it would arrive. Some operators also have a delayed baggage hotline. The package holiday operator should make sure your suitcase, once found, is forwarded on to your hotel for you. Most luggage is usually found within a couple of days so if you have to buy replacement clothes don’t go too mad just buy a couple of days worth until you have an update on the situation.
3) If the luggage isn’t found after 21 days you should report the matter to your travel insurance company or if you don’t have insurance cover you can try to claim from the tour operator themselves. If you are reporting damaged luggage and want compensation you should do so within 7 days of receiving your suitcase by writing to your insurance company or the tour operator.
1) Fly Direct – Flying directly to your destination as opposed to changing en-route will reduce the ilkelihood of your luggage getting lost as there is less opportunity for it to do so. Wear and tear of labels as your suitcase travels via different airports will reduce the capability of the machines to read the information needed to ensure it ends up in the right place. So the fewer airports you travel through to get to your destination, the less likely it is to be lost.