Losing luggage during business travel (well, any type of travel) is at the top of the list when it comes to inconveniences. Watching the luggage slowly tumble down the airport conveyor belt, as piece-by-piece is claimed, without seeing yours appear? There is a very specific sinking feeling that arises in the stomach as you come to the realization that yours is not coming.
The good news is that the likelihood of this happening to you is low. Since it costs airlines a lot of money, they are heavily invested in NOT losing your luggage. But what happens to lost luggage? How does it find its way back to the owner? And what happens if it’s untraceable?
What to Do When Your Suitcase Goes MIA
All airports have an area where flyers can submit claims for missing suitcases. In addition to filling out the form for lost luggage, make sure you complete a claim for potential damages as well (depending on the airline and airport, these may be two different things). Ideally, your suitcase will be found in perfect condition, but don’t take the risk if it is not. Especially if you have all the accoutrement for business travel - clothing, technology, etc. Include the value of the suitcase lost, too. Check with your credit card company or, if you use a travel management company, review their guidelines for any baggage coverage as well for extra help in replacing your things.
All major airlines use the World Tracer System, which uses information about the appearance and your itinerary to help locate it. This information is in the system for 100 days, and works 24/7 to find a match. Unfortunately, it won’t trace stolen luggage - that’s why completing the damage claim is an important part.
How Your Lost Luggage Comes Back to You
Many times, luggage is simply delayed. It wasn’t ever put on the plane for some reason, or held for a future flight, things like that. Best case scenario? Your suitcase arrives with the next flight to your location. Worst case? It was on a different flight entirely and needs to be mailed, taking a day or two.
Depending on what stage you’re in of your business travel--inbound or outbound--the inconvenience factor might increase greatly. Most airlines will deliver your suitcase to you, removing any further inconveniences. Some will even reimburse you for the costs incurred by the lost luggage… Therefore, hold on to any receipts for transportation, maybe even meals at the airport.
Best Ways to Prevent Lost Luggage When Travelling for Business
Ideally, you won’t ever have to deal with missing luggage. However, that doesn’t mean you should not prepare for the possibility. Here are some tips to avoid the process altogether.
- Personalize your luggage
Using luggage tags with your name, address and phone number is hardly a new idea, we know. But take it one step further and purchase luggage with extra personalization features, from initials to colors/patterns and more. Place your itinerary inside the suitcase as well. Basically, do anything you can to ensure that your luggage is clearly identifiable as yours.
- Avoid the most common reasons for misplaced baggage
Business travel doesn’t always put you in the driving seat when it comes to planning your itinerary. But whenever possible, avoid:
- Tight connections (nearly half of lost luggage is due to transfer mishandling)
- Late check-ins
Another common reason for lost luggage? Ticketing errors account for 15% of baggage issues. Double check your boarding passes and claim tickets to make sure that your itinerary is intact and baggage checked all the way through to your destination.
- Don’t check any bags if you can help it
Travel light and only use a carry on. Eliminating the risk is the best way to avoid it!
But Where Does Unreturnable Baggage Go?
Unclaimed luggage is auctioned off after a period time (determined by the airline). Resellers, like Unclaimed Baggage, purchase unclaimed bags; otherwise, it can be purchased by anyone who wants to take a chance, like storage space auctions.
Mitigate Lost Luggage Risk with a Travel Management Company
Carrousel Travel makes every decision with the customer’s best interests in mind. With 40+ years of experience in the industry, we have the expertise on hand to ensure smooth business travel for organizations of any size. Contact Carrousel Travel today!