What should I do if I lose my luggage on a plane?

Have you lost your luggage while traveling and would like to get it back? Here’s our complete guide to recovering your lost luggage on the plane!

Exploring the world with family, friends or solo is also a planning experience. As well as having to plan an itinerary, we have to organize our suitcases so that they contain everything we need. So it’s natural to worry and be careful not to lose them. Unfortunately, many things are beyond our control during the transport of our luggage. Every year, around seven out of every thousand travellers lose their luggage in a European airport. So what happens when you want to recover lost luggage on a plane? Do you have any rights, remedies or compensation options? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore every facet of the problem. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about recovering lost baggage.

What are the causes of lost baggage on flights?

Bagage perdu en avion ou à l'aéroport

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Jaromir Chalabala

First of all, it’s important to remember that thousands of pieces of luggage are transferred by plane every day. Airlines, however professional and diligent they may be, are not always perfect. To err is human, as they say! However, should something happen to your luggage, all is not lost. Compensation is available in the following three cases:

  • Baggage lost during transport in the hold.
  • A suitcase that was obviously damaged in transit.
  • Baggage that arrived with considerable delay, forcing you to leave the airport without it.

In most cases, luggage is placed on the wrong conveyor belt and ends up on the wrong plane. Alternatively, suitcases may never leave the airport, or may be stolen. Also, in exceptional cases, the suitcase or bag you brought in the cabin may sometimes be eligible for compensation. This is a very rare case, however, as you are responsible for what you take with you on the plane.

How do I find lost luggage on a plane?

Bagage perdu

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If your baggage is lost, delayed or damaged, you must contact your airline. After all, it’s the airline that’s at fault, not the airport. You can usually reach the airline in question at one of its on-site counters. If the counters are not open, you can always call or contact the company by phone or email. However, please note that it is important to report the situation as soon as possible. This is usually within 21 days of the loss.

Once your case has been processed, you’ll need to fill out a Property Irregularity Report. This is used as evidence and formalizes your case until it is resolved. In addition, you can use the following methods to recover your lost baggage as soon as possible:

  • Notify the staff at the hotel where you will be staying: they will be able to inform you if your lost or delayed luggage has been spotted.
  • Please keep all papers such as flight tickets and suitcase references: they may come in handy during the process.
  • Your bank or insurance company may be able to help you financially: contact them as soon as possible.

What recourse do I have for compensation for baggage lost on an airplane?

Voyageur ayant perdu son bagage en avion

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Once the report has been issued on time, you will eventually hear back from the airline. Approved compensation, if your baggage has been lost, will be calculated according to the convention that applies on the flight. The two conventions in force are as follows:

In order to reclaim the cost of your personal effects contained in your baggage, you’ll need to present your baggage invoices. Otherwise, most airlines will base their fees on the checked-in weight, and offer an average of €20 per kilogram. Moreover, the total amount cannot exceed €1,391 if the Montreal Convention is involved. On the other hand, the amount is limited to €23.40 per kg for the Warsaw Convention.

How do I find my lost suitcase?

Panneaux "Objets Trouvés"

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Despite the large number of pieces of luggage lost every day, only one in three thousand remains missing. Thanks to modern technology, lost luggage can be identified by a simple barcode. This is used in a system called World Tracer.

It’s also possible for travelers to track their luggage. Just as you would use a tracking number for a parcel. In addition, your property irregularity report normally contains the code you need. This 10-character code is inserted into the World Tracer on the airline’s website. You’ll be able to see for yourself the location of your lost baggage.

How can I reduce the risk of losing my luggage?

Arriver à l'aéroport et enregistrer ses bagages

Photo credit: Shutterstock – sebastianosecondi

To travel with a clear conscience, here are a few tips and tricks that will save you a lot of trouble:

  • Pack all your electronics and valuables in your hand luggage: since it’s with you on the plane, you can take off without anxiety.
  • Take the trouble to label your suitcases and bags with your first and last name, as well as an up-to-date address: this way, the person who finds your bag can immediately confirm its owner.
  • If possible, take out insurance: travel insurance or luggage insurance is always recommended for worry-free travel.

In conclusion, take what you can with you on the plane. Clothes and toothbrushes are worth less than a camera or a laptop. If you lose your luggage on the plane, don’t waste your time with the airline. If you follow our advice, everything should go smoothly. On that note, we wish you a safe flight and a pleasant journey.