Image: Calle Macarone on Unsplash

You arrive at your destination, ready to finally unwind on your long-awaited vacation, only to find that your suitcase hasn’t made the trip with you.

It’s not a fun situation to find yourself in, but it’s also likely not the end of the world. So the first step is take a deep breath and not let the airline’s mismanagement ruin your trip. The second is to check with the airline to see if your bag will arrive on its next plane to your current locale. Again, it’s normal to be frustrated, but don’t take it out on the agent helping you—he or she didn’t lose your bag.

Then, report it missing. You’ll want to do this immediately, and if you had a connecting flight, make sure you report it to the airline you used for the first leg of your trip.

“Provide a detailed description of the size, color and material of the bag, including any identifying tags,” writes The Points Guy. “Ensure the claim has your local address and contact information, and be sure to get the phone number of the lost luggage desk as well as some type of reference or claim number.”

Ask the Airline to Reimburse You

While you’re filling out the form, ask the airline how much they can reimburse you for the lost luggage. Delta, for example, will refund “reasonable expenses” of $50 per day for the first five days the bag is delayed. Make sure you keep the receipts.

And if your bag is delayed more than 12 hours, you will be refunded any baggage fee. Note that this likely won’t apply if your bag is misplaced on your flight home.


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Use Credit Card Insurance

After the initial airline reimbursement, you may be able to take advantage of your credit card or airline’s travel insurance to buy any other needed clothes and other items. That doesn’t mean you can buy a whole new wardrobe, but you can buy toiletries and other essentials to get you through your trip.

You should check your card’s benefits guide for complete information. Chase, for example, will cover the cardholder and immediate family members, even if you weren’t traveling together, up to a certain dollar amount.

More specifically, the Chase Sapphire Preferred will provide “reimbursement for the emergency purchase of essential items like toiletries and clothing, when baggage is delayed or misdirected for more than six hours by a common carrier, such as an airline, bus, cruise ship or train, while on covered trip,” up to $100 per day for five days. Again, be sure to keep your receipts.

According to the Department of Transportation, airlines had an average of three baggage complaints per 1,000 bags in August, so hopefully a lost bag isn’t something you’ll face. But if you do, know that you have a few different options to help rectify the situation—or at least make it more manageable. That way, you can still enjoy your trip.



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