Lost your baggage during air travel? Here's how to go about it

Details of the luggage, address for communication, and contact details should be furnished along with the complaint. Photo: CIAL

Air travel can be a serious affair with the kind of attention one should give to packing the luggage, ensuring it's of the right weight, avoiding items not permitted and more. At times, one can also lose the baggage during air travel though it's not a frequent occurrence. But, what can you do if it happens? Here are a few pointers:

Do not panic, patience is the key
The passengers’ luggage reaches the airport terminal through the baggage carousels (the moving conveyor belt that brings the passengers’ luggage). Passengers have to collect their luggage from the carousel of the airline with which they travelled. Sometimes, the luggage might take some time to reach the carousel. It is important to wait patiently on such occasions. If your baggage is not found in the carousel that has been set apart for your airline, check other carousels too. However, if your luggage has not reached anywhere, then take the next step.

Report the issue as soon as possible
If one is sure that the luggage is missing, it should be reported as soon as possible. The complaint is to be made at the airport office of the airline with which the passenger travelled. The Passenger Irregularity Report (PIR) should be filed with the airline’s desk at the airport. If one has travelled with more than one airline, the complaint is to be filed with the last airline with which one travelled.

Details of the luggage, address for communication, and contact details should be furnished along with the complaint. Make sure to collect the complaint number and a copy of the lost package report from the office. By using the claim number, the status of the efforts to find the lost package can be tracked on the website of the airline concerned.

If baggage is not traced within 21 days
Normally, the luggage is restored to the owner within two days of filing the lost package report with the airline. According to the rules, the luggage should be traced and handed over to the owner at the given address within 21 days of the complaint being filed. However, if the luggage cannot be traced within 21 days, it will be declared as lost luggage. If that happens, the passenger can file a new complaint with the airline with an assessment of the value of the lost articles. The things lost, their value, and the articles that had to be bought as a consequence of their loss, along with the bills, should be tagged with the complaint for claiming compensation. Details of the journey, including those of the ticket and other documents as demanded by the airline should be submitted. Some airlines make an interim payment of compensation to passengers if their luggage is delayed beyond 24 hours.

What is done with unclaimed baggage?
Don’t you want to know what happens with the luggage that is lost during plane travel and cannot be traced? If the baggage cannot be traced within 21 days, compensation will be paid to the passenger by the authorities of the airline concerned. However, it is certain that the lost baggage remains unclaimed at some airports. If the owner does not claim the baggage within the stipulated time frame, it will be shifted to the baggage store. In India, the usual practice is to auction the articles that are not claimed by the owners. But in the US, the articles in the baggage are gainfully used by segregating them into categories such as for charity, recycling and resale.

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