When waiting at the luggage carousel, it's everyone's worst fear to realize that battered suitcase is your damaged baggage and you'll have to spend time filing a claim. Even worse is when your bag doesn't arrive at all.
Filing a claim for missing or damaged luggage isn't fun, but it doesn't have to a total nightmare if you're prepared. It also helps to know your rights.
Here's hoping it doesn't happen to you or your loved ones this holiday season. But just in case, bookmark this link so you know what to do.
If your luggage is lost or your suitcase is damaged, you'll need to talk to your airline about the issue. Luckily the Department of Transportation has some regulations that will help you.
Some airlines try to claim compensation for lost luggage is limited to outbound flights, reports Consumerist. But that's just not true.
Airlines have to replace your luggage whether you're going on vacation or coming home.
If you have lost your bags or their contents are damaged beyond use, then you can go out and buy replacement clothes which the airline should reimburse you for. There's no waiting period for buying those items; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Of course, the airline is only responsible for the value of what was lost, which means you have to prove the dollar amount of the clothes and other items in your bag.
If you buy more than that amount, the airline won't reimburse you for it. Also keep in mind that they may try to argue down the price of what was lost so they won't have to pay as much.
At some point the cost or emotional value of the item makes it worth fighting about. When that happens, it's good to find a lawyer who will fight for you.
When traveling it's a good idea to keep valuable or sentimental items in your carry-on bag when possible. It might be inconvenient, but it also means they won't get lost.
What if the bag arrives intact but something is missing? It might have been lost at a TSA checkpoint.
You can file a claim with TSA to try get the item back or be reimbursed for its value. Most locations also have a lost and found which might have your item.
Ideally you and your luggage will arrive at your holiday destination at the same time. But if your luggage gets lost or damaged, well, now you know what to do.