So there you are desperately watching the same five bags going round and round at the airport carousel and wondering when your luggage is going to come. Have you forever lost the trendy handbag you bought for your sister or that amazing dress from Thailand? Or, are you going to be left without floral dresses for the beach holiday you are about to start? What if it is your business trip? Besides having a business meeting in less than two hours, you also need to look for a rental car, check into your hotel room and change into your formal attire, of course, which is in the lost suitcase. Oh, what about important office reports which you were supposed to present at the meeting. Those were also stashed in checked luggage for safety.
There is nothing worse than waiting at the luggage reclaim carousel after a long flight and realizing that your luggage is a no-show! According to an annual baggage report by the Geneva-based technology service provider SITA, globally, 6.5 bags per thousand passengers got misplaced in the year 2015.
Whether your bags have made their way onto the wrong flight or the airline has completely lost them, the anxiety and stress of being parted away from valuable belongings can overshadow your travel plans. Indeed, losing your luggage turns the entire excitement of going on vacation to despair.
As this is the best travel time in India, considering the break from school and colleges, here we give you some valuable tips to protect your luggage from being stolen.
- Keep things simple: We understand your allure for designer and stylish luggage and your desire to splurge your hard earned money on them. But remember, nicer bags become irresistible for thieves. So, play safe and go for less flashy bags.
- Avoid an identity crisis: Of course, now you’ve gone out of your way to protect your bags from the thieves’ eyes, you also need to take some steps so that no-one picks up your lookalike bag by mistake. You can tie a red scarf around your bag or paste sticky notes and write your name everywhere, preferably in bold words.
- Divide your clothes: If you have a travel buddy, you can swap some of your clothes with your travelling companion, so that in case your luggage goes missing, you will still have some outfits. Having some pairs of clothes is better than none. But remember to divide your clothes evenly between suitcases—five shirts in one bag are pointless if the other bag with all your jeans and trousers has gone missing.
- Remember your mother’s golden advice: Never, ever stash important documents, medicines, credit cards and other travel papers in your luggage. You can survive (for a while) without clothes, but you can’t stay at the unknown location without money.
- Become technology-savvy: There are some high-tech ways to trace your lost luggage and get a complete peace of mind. There are various smart luggage tags with microchips embedded in them like SuperSmartTag, ReboundTag, etc.; which help to find your lost luggage. Similarly, the Prime 1300 GPS tracker is placed inside the luggage, and it helps travellers to reunite with their belongings as soon as possible.
- Buy travel insurance: Every year, over 10 million (approx.) Indians travel abroad. However, according to the survey of ICICI Lombard, most of the travellers shy away from purchasing travel insurance. Though more than 90% respondents were aware of travel insurance, only 40% respondents had purchased it. Whether it is a holiday that you are looking forward to or a business trip, travelling abroad is surely a pleasant feeling. Opting for a travel insurance plan protects you from all unforeseen circumstances, including luggage loss. Although most airlines have their compensation policies for lost luggage, it may not be sufficed to cover the cost of the lost bag. Though, a travel insurance policy can’t protect your bag from being stolen, but it goes a long way in ensuring that at least you get the cost of your lost belongings.
What, if your luggage goes missing?
We agree that even after following the above points, there’s no guarantee your luggage won’t go missing. But if the worst happens, don’t panic, here are some tips to ease your worries:
- Don’t leave the airport: Though it was a long and tiring flight, don’t leave the airport till you find your luggage. Hunt down the airport representative and file a complaint. Some airlines allow you to file the report within 24 hours, but it is better to do it as early as possible.
- Talk to the airline representative: The first thing you’ll need to do is talk to your airline’s representatives. It is important to have a receipt for every checked-in bag as it will help the airline representative to know if your luggage is lost, delayed or left behind in transit. Before leaving the airport, don’t forget to ask for a copy of the report. While talking to the airlines representatives, make sure to have a calm tone. These people are not the ones who lost your bag, therefore, don’t take it out on them. Also, if you are upset, you may not be able to give the correct details of your missing bag that’ll further make it difficult to trace it. If your luggage doesn’t appear, it is the responsibility of the airline to compensate you.
Recently, the Indian Parliament has passed the Carriage by Air (Amendment), Bill to increase the compensation for air travellers in case of death, injury, flight delay, loss of luggage, etc. Once it becomes an Act, Indian carriers will be paying compensation which will be equivalent to the rates as mentioned by the global counterparts. While, the liability in case of delay in the carriage for each person is likely to be raised from 4,150 SDR (Special Drawing Right) to 4,694 SDR, in the case of loss, destruction or delay of luggage, it is increased from 1000 SDR to 1,131 SDR.
- Approach your travel insurer: A loss of luggage can be a big turn off for your vacation spirits, but your travel insurance policy can minimize your financial losses to a great extent. If you have a travel insurance policy, inform your insurer and register a claim. If you lose your luggage, the insurer will pay a pre-approved sum as mentioned in the policy document. In case your luggage is delayed, the insurer will compensate you accordingly. For instance, a comprehensiveinternational travel insurance policy pays the compensation for emergency items, like clothes and toiletries if the checked-in luggage is delayed for more than six hours. In case the luggage is lost, the insurer pays compensation as per the market value of the lost items.
Though the incident of lost luggage has caused troubles, don’t let it spoil your travel mood. Remember, it is not the end of the world. So stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey: Babs Hoffman