Nothing takes the jam out of my donut more than a lost bag. It seems so simple. Bag has tag for my flight, put bag with tag for my flight, on my flight, unload it at destination. Amazingly, despite a few airlines trying to find technology answers, lost or delayed baggage is here to stay and there is not much we can do to prevent it. There are however quite a few things we can do to rectify it! 

a man pushing a cart

To start, if your bag is lost entirely, the airline can be liable for up to $3,300 in losses in the United States and $1,750 anywhere abroad. Though it takes 21 days to declare a bag officially lost and an airline will make every effort to brush you off for less, this is what they are potentially on the hook for. Essentially, you don’t want to have more than either of these valuable amounts in a bag, but if you do, you are covered up to these respective amounts, and if an airline seems to have really lost it permanently, you shouldn’t settle for less than you deserve.

The card you purchase your ticket on can also play a huge role in recovering your bag or being reimbursed for essential purchases while you wait. American Express, Visa Signature and Mastercard World or World Elite cards all include baggage delay/loss protection when you use the respective cards to purchase your travel ticket. American Express premium baggage coverage, which is offered on most of their higher fee cards, offers up to $500 per person in necessary expenses after only four hours of delay, allowing you to purchase any reasonable clothes without inconvenience when your bags are delayed. Though less, Mastercard World and World Elite offers $100 per day per person for any delays after four hours. Finally, Visa Signature cards offer a similar $100 per day although you have to wait 18 hours to declare your baggage delayed. The best practice for your claim being fulfilled is to be in contact with the credit card and associated insurance claim provider throughout the whole process. 

a man pushing a cart full of luggage

Though Madonna’s luggage above is an entirely different (mental) problem, the first step in recovering luggage is always to head to the baggage counter, have your boarding pass and baggage claim information handy, and be reasonable. People are always more likely to help pleasant customers. Some airlines including Delta and Alaska now offer 2,500 miles if your bags aren’t delivered within 20 minutes! Though bonus miles are great, booking with a card which affords you protections far better than what an airline offers is a no brainer. The best you may do with an airline is a food voucher or a few bucks to buy socks in the terminal. $500 a day from American Express can get me all the underwear, jeans and necessities I need to not have people offer me money while I sulk in the airport. Don’t be stranded in day old undies because you booked your ticket with the wrong card…..

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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