Arriving at your destination without your luggage starts a vacation on a sour note, but knowing how to deal with the situation makes it less challenging.

While most bags make it to the correct airport baggage claim, some are misdirected or don't make connecting flights. Working with the airline to locate the lost bags gets your travel back on track. A calm yet persistent approach to dealing with the airline helps you get your checked baggage back quickly.

Approach the counter for the airline immediately without leaving the airport. Alert the airline employee that your luggage didn't make it to your destination.

Fill out the missing luggage or missing items claim form provided by the airline. Complete the form accurately to ensure the airline has the necessary contact information, including your cell phone numbers, this ensures prompt luggage claim and delayed bag notifications.

Request a copy of the lost luggage report for your records. Keep all other travel documents and receipts until your checked bags are found.

Ask for a time estimate of when the luggage might arrive. Request a specific baggage phone number rather than the general airline number so you can follow up on your bags. Determine if the airline will deliver the bags to you or if you'll need to pick them up yourself.

Ask if the airline provides any reimbursement for essentials you have to purchase while waiting for your bags. Save your receipts if you must buy replacement items for belongings that were in the missing luggage.

Call the number given to you by the airline based on the time estimate of when your luggage should arrive. For example, if the airline says the luggage will arrive that evening on a later flight, call first thing the next morning. If your bags don't arrive, continue calling to follow up. Document the names of all employees you speak with during the process.

File a complaint with the airline's consumer department if your missing bags don't arrive or if the airline employees aren't helpful.

To further avoid loss or delay, take nonstop flights and use carry-on bags for as many items as possible such as toiletries and a spare pair of clothes. While they won’t make it to the baggage carousel, bag fees will be avoided by packing carry-ons and lost, delayed, or damaged baggage will be avoided as you carry bags during layovers. Be sure any contents of carry on bags are approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Investing in travel insurance company plans may also offer protection for lost and delayed luggage for domestic flights and international flights. Check insurance policies for cancellation information as well as liability limits or maximum liability.

Another air travel strategy to avoid lost or delayed baggage is to place an apple air tag in checked bags along with ensuring a bag tag with contact information is attached to the bag.

American airlines, Southwest airlines, Delta airlines and others may offer monetary assistance to those who have lost or damaged luggage to cover incidental expenses, check policies before your next flight.


Remain calm when dealing with the airport employees. Check-in bags early to allow for enough time for the luggage to get onto the plane.