There is nothing worse than that awful stomach-sinking moment when the baggage carousel comes to a halt and you realize your bag has probably been lost.
Now you’re left to make due with whatever stuff you’ve managed to cram in your carry-on until—hopefully—your bag is recovered.
The good news? The risk of an airline losing your bag is lower than ever before. Complaints of lost lust luggage have dropped by 27% in the U.S.
On average, airlines lose around two bags for every 1,000 passengers, and that includes bags that are temporarily “misplaced.” A bag must be missing for 21 days before airlines consider it to be permanently lost.
You can further reduce the risk of losing luggage by choosing certain airlines over others.
Some carriers are more prone to bag mishaps than others, according to a new report from Luggagehero, a bag storage service based in Copenhagen.
The study analyzes Department of Transportation statistics from 2012 through 2018 and finds that the airlines least likely to lose your luggage are Delta and Spirit, followed by JetBlue.
Meanwhile, the odds of losing luggage are greater for passengers flying Envoy Air, ExpressJet, and SkyWest. These 3 carriers rank at the very bottom of the list with over twice the number of complaints as the top performing airlines.
In the rare instance that your luggage is lost, the airline owes you compensation. How much? Currently, that amount is capped at $3,500 by most U.S. airlines, 1,131 special drawing rights—or about $1,600 for airlines operating under the Montreal Convention, or $10 per pound on airlines not operating under the Montreal Convention.
You should also be aware that airlines don’t base compensation on the amount you paid for an item, but instead depreciate the value.
If these figures sound a little low considering what you tend to pack, consider purchasing excess valuation when checking your bag at the counter. This will provide additional coverage beyond the standard $3,500. An extra $1,000 of coverage can be purchased for just $10, though costs will vary by airline.
Passengers who used a credit card to book their tickets may already have some form of coverage to protect against lost baggage and daily incidentals. Call your credit card company and ask about traveler benefits provided.
If arriving during office hours, be sure to fill out all necessary claim forms with an airline rep before leaving the airport. Spending hours on hold with an airline is no way to begin a vacation, but it’s important to initiate a claim as early as possible and prepare for back-and-forth negotiations with your carrier.
Above image by Marquisphoto via Shutterstock