One of the harsh realities about the otherwise fast and comfortable air travel is that 1 out of every 1000 passengers have their luggage damaged, delayed or lost by the airline each year. And if you are a frequent flyer then you must be aware that in such unfortunate cases, there is no choice but to make do with whatever you have in your carry-on for the entire trip.
To be honest, there isn’t much in your hands when your check-in bags are mishandled at the airport. What you can do, though, is be patient and follow the steps given below for a better chance at finding the misplaced luggage or at least, getting maximum compensation for the lost or damaged items as well as the inconvenience caused by the airline.
Things to keep in mind when the luggage is delayed/lost/damaged at the airport:
1. Approach the authorities
Didn’t find your luggage on the conveyor belt? Well, you should wait for at least 30 minutes before assuming the worst. Even if your bag has arrived but is not in a good condition or has been damaged, don’t go on to create a ruckus at the airport by screaming at the airline staff and accusing them of mishandling your luggage. Approach the airline representative at once and report your bag/s as missing or damaged, whatever the case is. Remember, you need to act quickly to be able to retrieve your luggage.
2. Fill out the PIR form
Follow your complaint of misplaced/damaged luggage by filling out the Property Irregularity (PIR) form, which is provided at the baggage services. If your bag has not arrived, you will be requested to share your personal and flight details, along with a description of your bag and its contents to help the airline locate your luggage and return it to you. Pro tip! Make a note of the relevant tracking number, websites and phone numbers for your record. The tracking number can be used to check the status of your baggage online.
3. Ask for compensation
Ethically, every airline is responsible for any unexpected damage to the luggage or a delay of more than 24 hours. Yet, not all of them happily compensate for the loss. In order to claim a substantial compensation for missing baggage, you have a seven-day window from the date of your travel to write to the airline. In case of damage, most airlines offer to repair/replace the bag but for compensation, you need to use some pro-level negotiation skills.
4. Claim compensation
If the airline fails to locate your luggage within 21 days then it is officially considered as lost. In this case, you need to get a written claim from the authorities for your misplaced luggage. Most of the airlines are capable of compensating anything from the depreciated value to the original purchase value of the articles in your lost luggage, in the form of cash, daily budget or remittance. Airlines like Air India offer up to 3000 INR for more than 24 hours of delay.
(Note: Most airlines have a list of items for which they will not be held responsible including jewellery, cash and other valuables.)