Lost Your Luggage at the Airport? What Happens to It?


So you are taking a long flight and for whatever reason you had to check a bag.  It probably cost you at least $50 round trip for that privilege which is already annoying.  But then you finally reach your destination, fight your way to the luggage carousel, and wait for your bag to appear.  After several minutes the conveyor stops and to your horror your bag is nowhere in sight!

If you have ever lost your luggage at the airport you know that it can range from being slightly annoyed to having lost things considered irreplaceable. Regardless of the severity you know the sinking feeling of wondering if you are ever going to get your valuables (or unmentionables) returned.

This article from The Telegraph explains some of the the thing that can happen to luggage that either cannot be traced or is never claimed.  Remember this the next time your bag disappears.


It’s one of a traveler’s worst nightmares - being the last person at the airport conveyor belt and coming to that slow realization that your bag isn’t coming .

Lost luggage can prove either highly irritating or, bizarrely, kind of convenient. If the airline loses your bag on the outbound flight, you’re left with only the clothes you've travelled in, and might end up splashing most of your spending money on last-minute T-shirts and toiletries to carry you through.


If, on the other hand, your case goes walkabout on the way home, a complaint to the service desk would likely mean airport staff will electronically locate your luggage and - if they can find it - arrange for it to be couriered to you, meaning you’ll leave the airport empty handed and without the burden of dragging a suitcase full of dirty clothes home. After a particularly long trip, this can feel strangely like a positive. However, the airline will not help you unpack.


Research from SITA, the makers of the World Tracer System for baggage, found that there were 24.1million mishandled (lost and temporarily mislaid) bags in 2014, a figure that translates as 7.3 bags per 1,000 passengers. This figure is against the backdrop of ever-rising passenger numbers (3.3billion in 2014) - since 2007 global passenger numbers have risen by a third, while the number of mishanded bags has fallen by half, saving the industry $18billion.


Detailed consumer research into lost baggage from the Association of European Airlines suggested that 85 per cent of bags reported as lost are returned to their owners by courier within 48 hours, meaning they are “misdirected” rather than lost. SITA says reunion time is now down to 36 hours.

SITA's research found that of the 24.1million bags mishandled last year, 49 per cent went missing thanks to "transfer mishandling", i.e when passangers make connecting flights, 15 per cent because of "failure to load", 15 per cent due to a "ticketing error", and the remainder due to a mix of tagging errors, loading errors, and "airport/customs/weather/space-weright restrictions". "Arrival mishandling" accounted for 3 per cent of delayed luggage.

It is a small percentage of the mishandled bags that are actually lost. According to SITA, only 5.5 per cent are lost or stolen never to be reunited with their owners.


If your bag is misdirected on the way out, the airline must give you money to buy replacement items or reimburse you for purchases you make to cover your loses while you wait for your bag. But they can be evasive and pass responsibility to any other airlines you have travelled with or your insurance company, Sophie Butler, Telegraph Travel's consumer correspondent, writes.

UK airlines have 21 days to track your bag before it is considered officially "irretrievably lost". They trace it through the electronic tag put on it when you drop off your luggage, but bags can be difficult to find if a faulty or incorrect code was entered by the person who checked it in. At this stage, after a lengthy process of making a claim, you can get compensation for your bag.


All major airlines use the World Tracer System, which tracks a bag for 100 days and uses the information provided by you about the appearance of the bag as well as the journey history to try to locate it. 

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic explains: "When a customer identifies their bag as missing, a report is made into a system which searches bags found with similar criteria. Bags found at an airport without a customer attached or missing a tag are also logged into this system with any details that can be established. The system works 24/7 searching for matches between the delayed bag reports the customer has made, and the found bag reports that the airline has made, and it makes suggestions for matches based on the criteria in the files. Our baggage-tracing team continuously looks at these matches, liaise with the airports and the customers, identify the right bag and owner, and facilitate the return of the bag.


If a bag is missing, it could be due to belt or infrastructure failures, the bag may have become tagless, or short connection times may prevent bags getting from one aircraft to another. Usually a bag would be somewhere between check-in and the aircraft in a designated baggage area. If a bag is found later on, we will return it to the customer regardless of whether they’ve had compensation or not.


If a bag is not picked up from a carousel, it would get held at the airport, and a found bag report would be logged. If the customer then realized they’ve left the bag they would be able to call up and arrange for it to be returned to them. If the bag is not requested or identified it is then stored for up to 90 days. After which if no-one has claimed it, and we cannot determine who it belonged to, it would then be disposed of.


A spokesperson for British Airways said: "Usually we use continued tracing for a minimum of 90 days. Normally delayed bags travel on the next available flight, so in reality, it is very rare that we would still be tracing for that length of time.


But, on the rare occasions that a bag is still lost where is it likely to end up? Surely, like lost socks from the washing machine, it must go somewhere?

If after 90 days no-one has been able to link you with your bag, it could end up like much of the other lost property that turns up in airports: at an auction house that sells on luggage, with profits going to charity. Greasbys in Tooting sells on bags subjected to this fate from various London airports, and airlines including BA, every other Tuesday. “It’s dirty clothing and bags, mainly,” said one employee.

Auction houses like this exist worldwide, with one of the USA's major sites being the Unclaimed Baggage Centre in Scottsboro, Arizona. It has contracts with all the major US airlines to buy lost cases, clean up the contents and sell them on to bargain hunters. Their emporium includes everything from diamond rings to ski boots, with all items sold at relatively cheap prices.

More Tips for Packing Luggage for Air Travel – 10 Things NOT to Pack

luggage photo: luggage 6-05-09.jpg

One of the hardest things about packing for that big trip is knowing what to leave behind. You find yourself constantly thinking "What if I need this?" or "I just can't do without that!". Well those kind of thoughts can be your worst enemy when you are getting ready to pack.

By using some simple guidelines and a little restraint you can not only save money but also time and even trouble. When packing the rule of thumb is 'less is more'. These tips can be quite helpful in letting you not only know what not to pack for air travel, but could be helpful even if you are just taking a road trip.

These 10 things not to pack were first published on farecompare.com and are a good starting point for what to exclude from your packing list:

1. Valuables 

Never pack irreplaceable items. Things get lost, things get stolen, things get broken. Tip: Most airlines state that valuables are not allowed in checked bags, so don’t count on getting reimbursed for your good jewelry if anything happens to your bag.


2. Items with no ID 

Airline, airport and security lost & found rooms are filled with expensive electronics that are difficult to reunite with owners because they are difficult to identify. Make it easier to get items back by jotting down device ID numbers or attach temporary tags (even a business card). Even better, hang on to these devices so they don’t get lost; always keep them on your person.


3. Liquor store bottles 

Bringing a bottle of wine for your host is a lovely gesture, but security will confiscate it from a carry-on or it could break inside a checked-bag (cabernet + summer whites = disaster). Ship fragile or bulky gifts ahead and do the same for home-bound souvenirs.


4. Drugstore bottles 

Forget space-eaters like big bottles or tubes of sun screen or economy-size shampoo, conditioner or lotion. Many hotels already give you this stuff for free but if you prefer your own brand, shop a big box drugstore on arrival.


5. Hair dryer 

These are bathroom fixtures in even the cheapest motels these days (and you can always call or check the website to confirm). Visiting family? Bet they have some of these lying around. Save the space in your bag for something more important.


6. Books 

Yes, I do like books but I also like packing as little as possible so I always load up my electronic device. What I find amazing is how so many books can be added to a single phone or tablet. If you haven’t tried it yet, vacation is the perfect time.


7. Surfeit of shoes 

Shoes can be heavy, take up valuable space, and they’re not the cleanest things in your suitcase (tip: wrap them in bags you can recycle once you get home). Suggestion: wear one pair, pack one pair.


8. Too many clothes 

We’re all guilty of this: packing too many pants, shirts, skirts, dresses, whatever. Unless your last name is Kardashian and you must placate the paparazzi with a new outfit several times a day, don’t do this. Especially avoid ‘maybe’ outfits as in, “Maybe I’ll wear it.”

You know the drill: clothing you do pack should be in similar/matching colors so everything works with everything, and roll clothes instead of placing them flat in a bag to eke out the most space (see the video). If you don’t pack too much, you can probably use a carry-on and spend the $50 round-trip bag fee on something a lot more fun



9. Excess cash and cards 

Don’t travel with more than two credit cards (you carry one, spouse or good friend has the other). If one gets lost, it’s not the end of the world because you still have the other, but do record the card number and contact information on a piece of paper and keep it separate from the cards. Might want to make sure someone close to you back home has this info, too.


10. A big bag per person 

If a carry-on alone won’t cut it, trying sharing a big bag. If a family of four packs two checked-bags instead of four, that’s a savings of $100 round-trip. Plus most airlines still allow each traveler a carry-on for free

Airline Prices Are Up But You Can Still Get Cheap Flights

If you have been following the news you know that in early June several airlines hiked their prices.  That is keeping with the summer tradition of raising prices (it’s called supply and demand, more people traveling).  In our effort to help you travel the world on a budget here are several ways you can alleviate these price hikes and travel without cashing in your life savings.


It is really all about being flexible.  Take these tips:

  • Try to avoid flying non-stop.  You will sometimes save as much as 50% if you can fly a connecting route on your flight.
  • Use a carry-on if possible.  More airlines are starting to charge for that checked baggage.
  • If you can, fly Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays.  The airlines typically need to fill up these flights and many times offer discounts.  Fridays or Sundays tend to be more expensive because these are the most popular days to travel.
  • If possible delay your flight.  By waiting until the end of August (around the 25th) you could find yourself saving as much as 20%.  That is when the airlines will be dropping prices for domestic flights (and fares to Europe could possibly drop a few days before that).

So you can see that one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling is to be flexible.  If you can handle a little delay (in the day of the week or month you travel) and inconvenience (connecting flights, etc.) you can still get a cheaper flight and get where you want to go.

Here is another way you can save –Save up to 70% by booking Airport Parking now!

Happy flying!

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