Suitcase lost after the flight: what do passengers do?

Suitcase lost after the flight what do passengers do

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This is one of the quintessential horror scenarios – the luggage is gone! Travelers usually only realize this when the beloved suitcase just isn’t rolling on the baggage carousel at the destination airport. The travel journalist spoke with travel lawyer Paul Degott and explains step by step what to do.

1. Send a loss report immediately to the airport!

Whether you have booked the flight as part of a package tour or individually: First of all, affected passengers should arrive at the baggage counter as quickly as possible. Look for a sign that says “lost and found”.

There you check in with your plane ticket (and baggage sticker): Among other things, you will be asked for your name, the exact flight and the number of checked bags. It is helpful that you can describe suitcases and bags in detail.

If your description does not go further and the baggage does not appear in the meantime, you must submit a loss report. Important: it is essential to keep the loss certificate!

2. Reimbursement on package tours

You should avoid the next big mistake: “Don’t wait until the end of your vacation to complain. And do not report lost luggage to the hotel reception either, ”warns Reiserechtsanwald Paul Degott. Because a loss must be reported immediately – your accommodation is not responsible in this case.

It is different with the package tour operator: if your suitcase is not at its destination on time or even left, the latter is responsible. The guarantee applies here, even if the organizer was not responsible for the loss.

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In the case of package tours, you can sometimes claim 50% of the tour price

So contact the tour operator immediately. In any case, you can claim a price reduction. Means: The (temporary) loss not only results in material damage, but also weighs on your entire vacation.

Time passes with research, your recreational value suffers, and you may need to take care of the necessary utensils. Therefore, the organizer must reimburse you in proportion to the price of your trip. If the luggage does not show up during the entire stay, you can claim at least 50% of the price of the trip.

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3. Individual trip

Apart from the fact that the lost suitcase disrupts vacation planning, there are also additional charges on site.

Hygiene items, clothing or other small items – keep the receipt with each purchase and claim the expense. This applies to both package holidaymakers and individual travelers.

The big difference: Individual travelers, i.e. those who have booked the flight with only one airline, can only submit one damage report at the start. The same applies here: collect all receipts and submit them to the airline.

Gather all receipts and submit them to the airline

A minimum requirement because the quality of your vacation has suffered from the lack of luggage does not apply here. The airline only commits to transporting you from A to B. Everything else is goodwill.

Most of them, however, provide you with the most necessary items (toothbrush, shower gel, etc.) free of charge. Sometimes there is even some kind of voucher to buy clothes. Each airline pays the amount individually.

“Necessary clothes, not designer items,” Degott notes. If the suitcase does not show up at all, you are entitled to a maximum of 1,300 euros in damages – this applies per passenger and not per item of luggage. This is regulated very precisely in the Montreal Convention.

Suitcases are often lost

How can a suitcase get lost in the first place? Most of the time, the accident happens when you change trains – according to the SITA Baggage Report 2019 46% of the time. The second most common cause (16%) are labeling errors, baggage confusion and complications during security checks or simply loading difficulties.

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In the 2017 flight year, 24.8 million out of a total of 4.27 billion suitcases carried should not have landed with the owner in their original condition.

In 77% of cases, the baggage was late, 18% was damaged. Five percent were stolen or otherwise lost suitcases.

Despite more passengers, the number of delayed or lost suitcases is decreasing. This is due, among other things, to new technologies such as tracking services. Airlines are currently working on their own apps that will allow passengers to track them accurately.

Note to editors: This text first appeared in July 2019. We updated it in October 2021.

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