Question Of The Week: What To Do With Airline Delayed / Lost Luggage

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Question Of The Week: What To Do With Airline Delayed / Lost Luggage

Question Of The Week: What To Do With Airline Delayed / Lost Luggage

Our question of the week looks at airline lost luggage and what you should expect while waiting for a resolution. This also applies to airline delayed baggage and covers what compensation you are entitled to while waiting. It’s super inconvenient for your bags to not arrive with your flight, and there are things you’ll need while waiting. Here’s what you should expect from the airline and how to get it.

The Question

This week’s question comes from Clayton in our Facebook group:

Connected through DFW on an AA flight to Panama City, FL (ECP) today. The DFW to ECP was a regional and they made us valet gate check our bags. None of the gate checked bags arrived in Panama City.
And…I paid for this flight with an AA travel credit (from a COVID cancelled trip last year). So no credit card claim opportunity.
Will AA pay for my new underwear and toothbrush?
Anyone ever had a bag permanently lost by AA?


Clayton’s situation is definitely an odd one. He gate checked his bag, meaning he didn’t check bags at the check-in counter. The airline took his bags during boarding and somehow didn’t put them on the plane. Great job, American Airlines! Here’s a look at what to do during the delay, which could be a delay and might even turn into an airline lost luggage situation.

Airline Lost Luggage / Delayed Baggage Compensation

There are a couple things you should do to put yourself in the best situation. Obviously, you want to alert the airline right away. First things first, find the lost & found / baggage office for your airline before leaving the airport, and file a report with them. This will also give you a case number, which you can use to track updates. During this process, the airline should also be able to give you information about the next flight coming from where you started, so you have some idea of when your bag might arrive.

Next, ask the airline for the things you are entitled to while waiting. Depending on what’s in that delayed bag, you are without a few things you need. As Clayton specifically pointed out, you’ll want to brush your teeth and change your underwear at some point. Most hotels have “forgot something?” policies to help you with a razor, toothbrush, and the like. Sure, the airline must reimburse you for these if you buy them. For me, “simpler is better”. Get what you can for free from the hotel.

The Airline

Specifically with American Airlines, their delayed baggage information is here. Within 30 days of your expenses, you need to submit your itemized receipts showing what you had to buy, along with your baggage information and case number. Save those receipts, and make sure they list each item!

U.S. Department Of Transportation

Rules can change depending on domestic vs international travel. That being said, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a page here on your rights if the airline lost luggage or had delayed delivery of bags. Interestingly, it includes this statement: “Airlines are not allowed to set an arbitrary daily amount for interim expenses.  For example, an airline cannot have a policy that they will reimburse a passenger up to only $50 for each day that a passenger’s bag is delayed.” I’ve seen tons of airlines try to advertise a daily limit. Finding this statement from DOT surprised me! There are maximum limits on certain items, though, which you can find here.

Question Of The Week: What To Do With Airline Delayed / Lost Luggage

Final Thoughts

The stress of airline lost luggage or delayed baggage situations sucks. Knowing that they’re required to cover your necessities while you wait to be reunited with your stuff can take some of the pressure off. First, make sure to file a claim ASAP. Next, keep all of your receipts for anything you have to buy, but get freebies from the hotel to cover what you can. For me, that’s simpler than dealing with the airline for reimbursement on toothpaste, etc. Luckily, Clayton got his bag back. This is why many of us hate checking bags and try to avoid it whenever possible.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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    • Christian-you’ve read this site enough to know I’ve had baggage issues. This was a surprise to me, also. I’ve had that “daily limit” lie rammed down my throat by airlines. I’m shocked!


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