Lost luggage may be a standing joke among airline travellers, but it’s not funny when it happens to you. Technological tracking advances are helping to decrease the amount of losses every year, but millions of travel bags are still lost in transit every year.
The good news is that you are far less likely to lose baggage on cheap domestic flights in South Africa, than moving between international airlines and airports. Most baggage does a disappearing trick while being transferred from one flight to another.
How to Avoid Lost Baggage Syndrome
Your first line of defence when it comes to lost baggage is to avoid losing it in the first place. Aside from keeping it local with FlySafair specials or other cheap domestic flights, here’s what you can do:
- Fill out your luggage tags clearly, correctly and completely.
- Double check that the check-in clerk has printed the correct label and attached it to your bag.
- Choose an easily-identifiable bag – think “bright colours”, or “tartan”!
- Keep your luggage stub in a safe place. This helps the airline to track misplaced luggage more quickly.
- Fit your luggage with a GPS tracking chip linked to your phone.
- Avoid arriving late for your flights.
- Allow plenty of time between transfers. You’ll have to recheck your luggage if you switch airlines.
- Most airline websites offer the option to track your bags. Login and make sure your bags are at the same airport as you are if you have a layover.
- Taking a photograph of your luggage can make it easier for airline staff to identify it, especially if it’s a noticeable colour. This also helps your case if your luggage is damaged while being handled by the airlines.
No matter how careful you are, there’s a slim chance that your bags may still head off on their own adventure. Here’s what to do if they don’t arrive where you are.
What to Do if Your Bags Go Astray?
Plan for the worst, by packing all your valuable items into your carry-on luggage. You don’t want your great-grandmother’s heirloom necklace to disappear somewhere over the Atlantic.
When you discover that your luggage is AWOL, the first thing to do is check the other carousels and the holding area. Next head for the baggage counter and notify them of the loss. They will usually be able to figure out where it is using their online tracking system.
Avoid taking off at the airline staff – you’ll need their cooperation to trace your bags, and it’s actually not their fault!
If you have connecting flights on two or more airlines, check with all of them. Be sure to give a detailed description of your bag (or show them the photo you took) and provide them with your travel inventory, they may have sent your bags on ahead. Get a reference number for your claim.
Worst case scenario, if your luggage has disappeared without a trace, you can insist on reimbursement for your checked baggage fee. If the airline finds your luggage, they’re expected to courier it to you free of charge, so be sure to leave your contact details. Insist that they return it to you as soon as it’s found.
If your luggage doesn’t reappear within 21 days, you can submit a lost baggage claim to the airline. You will need to list the contents of the bag and provide receipts for valuable items. It is a good idea to check your airlines lost baggage policy when you book your airline tickets, as they all make their own rules. We don’t need to tell you that you shouldn’t leave home without travel insurance for lost baggage.
How Much Compensation Will You Receive?
If your luggage is delayed, most airlines will pay for your essential purchases in the meantime. If it’s gone for good, they have to compensate you for the entire contents of your bags. Once again, each airline has their own policies.
Many airlines do not take responsibility for expensive items like laptops, electronics, fragile items, jewellery and business documents, so keep those in your hand luggage.
What are the Chances?
Thankfully, less than .05% of checked bags are lost during airline travel annually. Thanks to smart technologies, baggage tags can be tracked more easily and transferred to waiting planes with greater accuracy.
Don’t let the slim chance of lost baggage keep you grounded, book the best cheap domestic flights on leading SA Airlines such as FlySAfair today. It’s worth the risk.