It is shortly after midnight, and Delta DL262 touches down in Bangalore. Bleary-eyed and tired after smelling the stale air inside the aircraft for the better part of a day, you make your way to the baggage carousel.
Everyone departs, but nothing for you! Your prized set of American Tourister luggage is probably on its way to Moscow. After all, you changed planes in Paris. Did your luggage? Who knows?
Apart from your passport and toothbrush, you have nothing. And the same fate could befall even if you flew down from Pune.
Lost luggage is the stuff that nightmares are made of. As a frequent flyer, you are part of a grisly roulette that will put you at the receiving end of this injustice one day, sooner or later.
What to do if your baggage did not arrive?
- We start with a tip: Even before you depart, take a picture of you checking your luggage in at the departure airport. Why? The description it provides works wonders. It is much better than saying, “My 67″ Lagoon Blue American Tourister suitcase went missing from your plane”.
- Second of all, remain calm. It is hard to not be apoplectic when you are about to drop dead from exhaustion, but you have to summon all of your inner strength. Remember that statistics are on your side. 80% of lost luggage is delayed luggage. That can be hard to believe when you are scheduled to leave Bangalore for Mysore the next day, but it’s better than believing it’s lost forever.
- File a complaint at the airport baggage claims office. Time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the more the distance between you and your bags. Since all checked bags carry sophisticated trackers and bar code stickers, it is relatively easy to locate them. But for that, the airline first has to know that it went missing. The complaint also provides you with an official paper trail that will come in handy if there is a dispute later.
- Of course, besides all of this, you still have to make your way through customs and immigration. Once your report is filed, there is nothing more for you to do but check in at a hotel. If you had not booked a hotel previously, you would have to explain why you are without luggage.
- You would, of course, have to buy essentials such as clothes and toiletries. Keep track of the receipts. You have a legal right to claim the expense. Many airlines outline the maximum amount they would pay out beforehand, so choose your accommodations wisely.
- As soon as you wake up the next day, begin calling the airline helpline. An important point to remember is that if the bags did not arrive, the airline is responsible, not the airport. Be proactive, get on the Internet to find email addresses of higher-ups, and start sending emails.
- At a certain point, the matter is fait accompli. Apart from your prayers, there is not much you can resort to or do. All airlines ask passengers not to check luggage with expensive or irreplaceable items inside. Keep that in mind when you fly.
Baggage Lost at an Airport
The other type of loss is at the airport premises. You might leave your purse behind at a lounge or airport bookshop and be unable to locate it.
In India, airport security is in the hands of the Central Indian Security Force, or CISF.
If you own a smartphone, you can make a complaint through the UMANG app. You can also do it in person at the nearest CISF office or kiosk. CISF is exceptionally professional and tries its best to trace what you have lost.
Since the access of outsiders to Indian airports is limited, there is a reasonably large chance that your lost item will be found. Of course, if you left diamond earrings on the countertop of the restroom, do not be hopeful. However, on the whole, misplaced luggage is often recovered.
Using the CISF help number, you can track the status of your complaint. If it is recovered, you have up to three months to claim it.
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