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Baggage delay. What to do when you arrive but your bags don’t

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It’s that sinking feeling…. you’ve waited patiently by the carousel for your case and now you are the only one there. A few bags are still doing the rounds, plus a battered looking cardboard box, none of which belong to you.

You know your case isn’t coming up. So, what do you do and how are you covered for delayed luggage?

First things first.  Always keep your baggage receipts when you check-in, this will make tracking your luggage infinitely easier.

Head for the baggage claim office. This is usually in the baggage reclaim area. And take note of the following:

  • You’ll need to fill out a form. Get a copy of this or take a photo of it.
  • Note down who you spoke to and the time.
  • Ask what happens next and how you can contact the airline to enquire about your bag.
  • Try to keep calm and remember lost luggage is a daily occurrence for staff and they are not emotionally attached to your bag like you are!
  • Ask about reimbursements or compensation from the airline and a number to contact. Most airlines will give “reasonable” expenses for you to buy underwear, clothes and toiletries. Keep all receipts.

Getting on with your holiday

You’ll be leaving the airport empty handed but most bags do turn up and your airline should call and arrange to courier your bag to you. It may be easier to go back to the airport and pick up your found bag. Annoying but sometimes quicker.

If your bag is truly lost it may take a couple of weeks for the airline to acknowledge this. Get this in writing in order to claim compensation as you will be covered under most travel insurance policies.

If you travelled on a connecting flight with two different airlines then it is usually the last carrier who has responsibility for finding your bag, But check this with all the airlines you have flown with.

Get your luggage delay covered

Budget Direct Insurance provides cover if your baggage is delayed or lost. You can decide between a Basic or Comprehensive policy and this will determine your cover.

If you checked in your baggage and it is delayed or misplaced for more than six consecutive hours while you are overseas, Budget Direct Insurance will pay you a cash benefit of S$200.00 per adult and S$50.00 per child for every six consecutive hours, up to a limit of S$1000 on a Comprehensive policy and S$400 on Basic cover.

This is calculated from the time you actually arrive at the destination to the time you receive your checked-in baggage.

You will need to have written proof from the airline confirming the period of delay and the reason. Always refer to your policy for some exclusions.

If your bag is delayed in Singapore, then S$100 is paid per adult and S$25 per child for six consecutive hours of delay up to the limit for this cover shown on your Policy Summary.

If your bag is lost and not coming back, you need written confirmation from the airline or carrier and Budget Direct Insurance will cover you up to S$5000 per person on a Comprehensive policy and S$500 on a Basic policy.

How to avoid baggage delay

  • Don’t check your bags in! Use a carry-on case when you can and always keep valuable items like laptops, credit cards, documents, jewellery and expensive handbags with you.
  • Try to take direct flights when possible, this way there is less chance for your bags to get mislaid in transit.

    Sometimes flights with one or two layovers can be cheaper than non-stops. However, according to SITA's 2017 Baggage Report, 47% of all cases of delayed bags occurred in between connecting flights. So if you're determined to minimise the odds your luggage gets lost or delayed, we'd recommend that you fly direct whenever possible. If you do have to make a connection, it is advisable to avoid layovers that are very brief, as extremely short layovers can increase the likelihood that your bag won't make the transfer in time.

  • Choose a good airline. Fortunately for us in Singapore, we experience far fewer baggage issues than do our friends practically everywhere else in the world, with carriers in the Asia Pacific reporting only 1.81 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers in 2016. This contrasts favorably against the global average of 5.73 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, as well as the average for Europe (8.06 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers) and the United States, which reported 2.7 bags per 1,000 passengers. The Asia-Pacific's strong performance compared to the rest of the world may be due in part to the superiority of its airlines, which international rankings consistently reflect. Singapore Airlines was ranked the second-best airline in the world by Skytrax in 2017, with other Asian airlines dominating the top 10. It may not be such a coincidence that the region with the highest concentration of the world's best airlines also reports the fewest baggage issues.
  • Make your luggage stand out – add a sticker or a ribbon to it. It is not uncommon for someone to take your bag by mistake, after all no one checks! Make sure you have a tag on your bag with a telephone number and an address or business card inside the case. That way, your airline can find you quickly.Keep in mind that it may not be a great idea to label your things with your home address, in case troublemakers learn your address and decide to take a few of your possessions off your hands while you're out of town. To be extra diligent, consider putting a copy of your flight itinerary into your suitcase so that your airline knows where they can send your things.
  • If you are travelling en famille spread out your items over a few cases. If one goes missing, you will have some stuff in other cases.
  • Keep receipts of all expensive items. And take photos of your luggage.

Finally, don’t lose those sticky luggage labels given to you at check-in. This is the only thing the airline has to trace your bag. Take a photo of them.

So, where do those lost bags go?

Most of them end up at auction houses which sell on items, with profits going to charity.


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