Imagine you are in a foreign country, just landed at the airport to enjoy your well deserved vacation and finding out that your bag is not there at the baggage claim area. What do you do in this kind of situation?
In this article, we will share with you two ways to get compensated for all the inconveniences when your bags are delayed, damaged or lost. We will also share expert tips from frequent travelers on how to avoid these luggage problems and also to prepare you in case the unfortunate does happen to you.
In 2016, there were over 10 million bags mishandled worldwide. With the rising number of global travelers and new global routes each year, mistakes happen, especially when passengers and luggage move from one aircraft to another. This increases the risk of your luggage not showing up at the baggage claim area where they should. Imagine the disaster. If you are lucky, you may get them back a few hours or even days later. In the worst case scenario however, your bag may be lost forever along with all your precious belongings in it.
There are a number of ways a bag can be mishandled. In 2016, airline reports showed that 77% of bags were delayed due to mishandling during transfer, tagging and ticketing error, failure to load, airport customs error or even due to bad weather. Reports also showed that 16% of mishandled bags were damaged and 7% were lost or stolen. In fact, lost and delayed bags are the most common type of travel insurance claims around.
(Source: SITA Baggage Report 2017)
Get compensated for lost, damaged or delayed luggage
1. Travel insurance can save your long awaited great escape
Travel insurance is the best way to protect you financially when your luggage is delayed, damaged or lost. This is one of the reasons why many big travel agencies and airlines work together with insurance companies to offer travel insurance.
Take AirAsia for instance. Any AirAsia Premium Flex, Premium Flatbed or Value Pack Seat customers get the Baggage Delay and the 1-hour On-time guarantee protection for free. In the case of baggage delays, you will get RM 120 if they are delayed for more than 6 hours. This applies exclusively when you fly with AirAsia.
Tokio Marine on the other hand, compensates you RM 200 if your baggage is delayed for the same duration of time. For every additional 6 hours, you get another RM 200, up to a maximum of RM 800. As long as you are insured by Tokio Marine, it covers you for any airline that you take.
This can be a huge help and money saver to you. With the money being compensated for your delayed luggage, you do not need to worry about spending your own money to purchase even the simplest things like a toothbrush and clothes. If you’re in a country with cold climate, the money can be spent well by buying a good jacket to keep you warm. On the other hand, if you are on a tropical island, the money can let you go out and buy a new set of bathing suit so you waste no vacation time at all.
You can also claim from the insurance company in the case of stolen luggage. Tokio Marine for example, will pay up to RM 5,000 for this. Just make sure that you do not put in any valuable items like a laptop and digital camera in your luggage because normally insurance company will not pay for those. Travel insurance is not responsible for your every single belonging and it certainly cannot replace all the precious memories that you could lose especially if you aren’t careful. But the payout does offer a decent amount to help you replace most of the items you have lost.
2. Airlines, they can compensate for your baggage trouble too
The other type of reimbursement comes from the airlines themselves. Airlines can pay compensation regardless if you purchased a travel insurance or not. From airlines, you can claim up to a maximum of RM 6,200. You can read more about it from the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM). You will need to check with each airline separately on how much you can get. It is not as easy as travel insurance. This is why many airlines partner with insurance companies to make it more convenient for you. The key to keep in mind is that you can only claim from the airline or your insurance company. You cannot claim from both.
What should you do when your baggage is lost?
The baggage service desk is your friend
As soon as you realized your bag is not at the baggage claim area, head over to the baggage service desk. Each airport has at least one baggage service desk while larger airports will even have separate desk for each airline. So ask around and be sure to look for the right one. You are required to provide all the necessary information when reporting for your lost luggage, such flight number, as well as description of your luggage, color, size, brand and type etc. You will also need to leave your contact details – phone number and address so they can deliver the bags to you once it is found.
Very important: Before you leave the baggage service desk make sure that you get some written confirmation from them that your bag is delayed. Also, get the contact number and website address to monitor and track your baggage recovery progress.
If you have travel insurance, check how long do you have to wait before you can claim from the insurance company. Most insurance companies will only pay out money after a delay of at least 6 hours. You can find that information online at the companies website or you can contact your insurance agent. Also, make sure that when you leave the baggage service desk that the date and time is recorded in the report. Knowing how much your travel insurance will provide you, will help you decide on how much to spend when shopping for replacement clothes or toiletries. When you go shopping, make sure that you keep all receipts, because some insurance companies will require you to produce the receipts when making your claim.
When you return from your vacation, immediately contact your insurance agent or insurance company to inform them about the incident. You will most likely need to fill out a form to make a claim.
How to prepare for or avoid baggage trouble?
It is nice to have the safety of travel insurance that helps you protect from unnecessary expenses when your luggage is delayed or stolen. However prevention is always better than cure. So here are some proven tips from frequently travelers that can help you reduce the chance of delayed or lost baggage.
Tip 1: Avoid flights with many stop-overs, if possible
The fewer stop-overs your flight has, the fewer chances your bags will get lost. So if your flight route and your budget allows it, go for direct flights with as few stop-overs as possible.
Tip 2: Do not book flights with short stop-overs
When you cannot avoid stop-overs, common thinking is that you want to have the stop-over as short as possible, so that you can reach your final destination faster. However, the expert traveler will make sure that there is enough time between flights, in case the earlier flight is delayed. There are many reasons why a flight can be delayed, such as bad weather and aircraft technical complications. This makes it all very likely that you and your luggage will not arrive at you final destination at the same time.
Tip 3: Mark your luggage
One of the most common reasons for lost luggage is that it was mistakenly taken by someone else from the baggage claim area. Unfortunately, bags all too often look the same. So make yours unique by putting a flashy ribbon or sticker so that when they come onto the baggage claim belt, you can easily identify them from the rest, and other people do not mistaken them for their own.
Tip 4: Put a luggage tag inside
Many of us will put a luggage tag outside so that in case the luggage is lost, the finder has information about the owner. Unfortunately, the reason why bags are permanently lost is that the airline tag as well as your luggage tag is gone or unreadable. The airline will then check inside if there is any information about the owner. If the airline is unable to find any information about the owner anywhere inside or outside the luggage, it will then be declared lost. To be even safer, have identification tags both inside and outside!
So that’s it, easy tips for you to follow the next time you go on your trip. For more info, watch the video below. Don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook page to get more travel tips!
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