When an airlines loses your bags – it’s not about getting mad, it’s about getting your underwear back. There’s nothing we can do to stop airlines from treating luggage like wrestling foes, or sending it to cities we’d never dream of visiting, but there is a lot we can do once we figure out the problem and most importantly – to prevent luggage from becoming a problem. Here’s how to handle any luggage problem…

For Starters, Always Print Your Flight Itinerary And Put It In Plain Sight, In Your Bag…

This is such an overlooked move. Airline tags (mysteriously) get ripped or destroyed, but if your itinerary is immediately visible in your bag, and your name appears outside the bag- you have an astronomically better chance of getting your bag back on track ASAP. Print your itinerary, name and any other relevant details. Many airlines now offer digital bag tracking, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. And if you’re really paranoid, some luggage companies offer tracking devices!

Pay With The Right Card, So You Get Major Protection And “Free” Cash To Spend On Necessities, Airlines MAY Help…

Regardless of what card you paid with, the airline ‘should’ cover “necessary items” during the baggage delay (roughly $50/day), so keep receipts, but don’t rely on it. Even with a delay of just 3 hours, select reward credit card “trip delay coverage” policies kick in, allowing you to purchase necessary items- like socks, shoes, shirts, rolex watches, up to roughly $500, or $100 per day and the card will reimburse you through their travel insurance policy. Full details can be found here. This applies on many cards around the world, not just the U.S.

You’re Covered For Up to $3,000 In The U.S. and $1750 Abroad If Your Bag Is Lost, So Collect As Much Evidence As Possible…

When it comes to dealing with the airline – things get a bit more hairy. We all carry cellular phones these days, so when you finish packing, or a couple times during your packing – try and snap some photos and take notes of important items in your bag. This will make it easy to claim if the bag is deemed lost, which only happens after a whopping 21 days! WTF! Oh, and don’t sign a waiver, or put your laptop/expensive electronics, jewelry or money in your luggage. Ever.

When Luggage Is Lost Or Delayed – Don’t Hesitate. Don’t Leave The Airport Until You File A Claim And Receive A Case File.

If you’re casual about delayed or lost luggage, the airline will be too! Assuming you want things back ASAP, march right on over to the luggage counter, armed with information. Keeping that little baggage tag sticker- from check in, is a great start, and so is having a detailed description of your luggage and it’s full contents. Yes, down to how many pairs of socks. File a claim, get contact numbers and ask for progress reports and a single point of contact (person). Provide current and future travel plans- so that the bag may reach you without lifting a finger. Hopefully.

Additional Compensation? Get The Pen Out…

Now – none of this explains fairness, only entitlement. When an airline (in this day and age) loses a bag, or delays it’s arrival, it seems more than fair to push an airline for additional compensation. As with all things, it’s not good to ask for something specific, but rather to ask “if this is what a customer can expect” and to comment on the frustration and inconvenience. Hopefully the airline responds with future travel credit, miles or cash.