What to Do When an Airline Loses Your Suitcase?

One of the problems that are seen daily at airports is precise that the luggage did not reach its destination.

We always say: hopefully, that does not happen to me, it has never happened to me, or it will never happen to me.

I have news for you, just like canceled and delayed flights.

The more you travel the more you are exposed to your luggage being lost.

Sometimes it just never happened to you, and other times it happens to you very often.

My brother lost his suitcase 2 times in a row on two different trips.

It is honestly one of the worst things that can happen to you. Especially when you are starting your journey.

Every year 26 million suitcases do not reach their destination with their owner.

Of those, 1 million they never return with their original owner.

Today, thanks to technology, you are 70% less likely to lose your suitcase than 10 years ago.

But there are still many chances that it will happen to you.

I have lost many suitcases, and this is what you have to do…

1. Always Keep Your Luggage Vouchers

Before anything happens, the first thing you have to do is since you document your luggage.

Keep the passwords for each of your bags very well.

If you can take a photo, you never know when you may need it.

These numbers allow you to track the suitcase and know where it was last scanned.

I usually take pictures of my bags just when I am putting them on the scale.

Just in case I need future reference.

2. Report your Lost Suitcase

If you are the last person on the suitcase carousel and yours never appears. Report it Immediately!

You have to go with the agents of the airline that transported you to your final destination because they are responsible.

Many “lost” suitcases are simply delayed for many reasons, such as missing the plane if you had a very short connection.

With today’s systems, they can monitor in real-time where the last time they saw that suitcase, and for sure it is still there.

Never leave the airport without a Written Report stating that your suitcase is delayed (they cannot determine if it is lost until a long time later).

Even if they tell you that they will arrive on the next flight, you have to have a supporting role.

Again, take a picture of everything.

Agents will most likely want to keep passwords.

Also, ask them for a local phone number directly from their office, it is the only way you will have to communicate with them.

3. Find out about the Airline Policies

It is important that you know the lost or delayed luggage policies of the airline you are traveling with.

For example, the times it has happened that my luggage arrives late.

United has given me $ 100 USD for each day up to a maximum of 3.

That is, $ 300 USD. All bags are considered delayed until the search has been completed, which can take up to 60 days.

In the case of Mexico, if you lose your suitcase.

you must be compensated with a maximum of 75 minimum wages.

United Airlines has up to a maximum of $ 3,000 USD compensation on domestic flights.

4. The Best Scenario

In the best case, your suitcase will be delayed for a few hours or days.

My mom did not get her suitcase the day we were going on a cruise.

We got on the boat without her wearing any clothes, and a few days later the suitcases arrived directly at the ship.

Unfortunately, my brother was not as lucky.

Their suitcases have been lost on several occasions.

This is where the interesting thing comes from to continue with the procedure of lost suitcases.

But already giving you the idea that they are lost.

5. Fill out all the necessary Documentation.

Several days of searching have passed and your suitcases show no sign of life.

Then they will ask you to make a formal claim.

In it, you have to put all your information.

But you also have to describe your suitcase in detail and list all its contents.

They will ask you, if you have them, for your receipts for all your belongings including the suitcase itself.

United airlines asks you to enter the year you purchased each item.

With all the information you provided them, at the end of the search without success.

They will evaluate your case and offer you compensation for the loss they caused you.

They will never pay you the amount you claim because all your things are technically used, but something will help.

This process can take several months to give you an answer, so be patient.

But you also always have to be talking so that they know that you are aware of this situation.

 International flights

This scenario on an international flight is another story entirely.

This is because international flights are governed by the Montreal Convention.

It determines a maximum limit of 1,131 Special Drawing Rights.

It is a currency of the International Monetary Fund and is equivalent to approximately $ 1,600 USD.

Tips to Prevent Your Suitcase From Being Lost

  • Identify Your Suitcase – Before documenting, make sure your suitcase has your name and contact inside and out.
  • In the very frequent case that your suitcase loses its tag.
  • They will open it to determine who it belongs to.
  • Value Items – I know it is repetitive but it is not superfluous to say it.
  • Take all your valuables with you on board. Do not document them because in case they are lost they will not be responsible.
  • Travel insurance – I always recommend to all travelers who travel insured.
  • There are many options and they can be very helpful.
  • Credit card – Use a credit card to buy the trip that offers you protection during your trip.
  • This card offers you up to $ 1,200 USD of compensation for the loss of your suitcase.
  • Avoid Changing Airlines During Your Trip – One of the most common ways that luggage is lost is in airline changes once you start your trip.
  • Many times when there is a delayed or canceled flight.
  • The airline with which you are traveling decides to send you another to arrive at your destination.
  • Many times we have no alternative, but it is preferable to always stay with the same airline.
  • In the event that the suitcases are lost, the ball will be thrown and none will want to be held responsible. 


As I explained in this article, I prefer to travel only with my carry-on bag to avoid all these risks.

Leave a Comment