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Did you know that you can get your airline to pay for lost luggage? Did you know that you can get the airline to pay for your delayed luggage? As a traveling consultant, my wardrobe is critical to my profession and I cannot go more than a day without professional clothes. Twice last year, I had my luggage delayed for a day – and while it is unfortunate that my bag was temporarily lost, American Airlines reimbursed me for clothes that I needed while my bag was missing!
My luggage is missing or delayed! What do I do?
You arrive at your destination, and your suitcase does not come out on the carousel. Your airline will have a Customer Service desk, and you will need to show them the luggage receipt you received after checking your bag. Immediately report your delayed luggage, and the Customer Service representative will be able to look-up whether your bag is simply delayed, or if your luggage is truly lost.
If your luggage is delayed, such as it did not make it onto your flight in time or it missed a connection, the Customer Service representative should be able to let you know if your bag will make it to your city within the day. They will take the address of where you are staying, and will be able to deliver your luggage to you at a later time for free. If your luggage is delayed for more than 6 hours, get excited – because you can get any necessities reimbursed by the airline!
What expenses can I get reimbursed?
You will want to check your airline’s delayed or damaged bag policy to determine what items can be reimbursed. As of when this post was written, the American Airlines policy stated:
We will reimburse you for items you need immediately while away from home without your bag.
AA Delayed and Damage Baggage 9/26/18
What exactly does that mean? In my experience, my luggage was delayed on a Monday after I arrived for a client in New York City. The airline was unsure if my luggage would arrive before work on Tuesday, so I needed to be prepared. I purchased toiletries for the evening (a toiletry travel pack from Walgreens), and I purchased an outfit to wear the following day. Professional clothes are pretty expensive, so I re-wore my suit jacket but purchased underwear, new slacks, and a new top. My bag showed up at the hotel around midnight.
A few weeks after I submitted my reimbursement request by mail, I received a check that covered everything! This seems like a pretty sweet deal, but I tried to be reasonable. I considered purchasing new make-upl, but figured that was not a necessity. Do not purchase anything that you cannot afford or would not have purchased anyway, in the event that the airline rejects your claim.
How do I get my delayed luggage necessities reimbursed?
Search for the delayed or damaged baggage policy of your chosen airline. As of when this post was written, the American Airlines policy stated:
Within 45 days of your delay, please send us:
– Your 13-character file reference number
– A copy of your ticket receipt and baggage claim checks
– Your original, dated, itemized receipts
AA Delayed and Damage Baggage 9/26/18
These items had to be mailed to their office in Phoenix. I took photos of all these items before mailing in original receipts. I personally included a cover page, which had my name and contact information, along with why the items were necessary (“I needed clothes for my profession as a consultant”) and the total amount of money I was requesting to be reimbursed. I also included my AAdvantage number to ensure the airline could reach me if necessary. I then taped the receipts onto pieces of paper where I highlighted the total amounts.
I likely went above and beyond, but I wanted to be sure that I was reimbursed. Fortunately it worked out – a few weeks later, I received a check in the mail from American Airlines for the amount I had requested.
- Take a photograph of your suitcase before you check it, in the event that you need to describe the look of your suitcase to an attendant.
- Save your luggage ticket receipt. So many times I have casually stuffed my receipt in a bag to be forgotten about. Make sure you hold onto the receipt until your suitcase is back in your hands.
- Attach a luggage tag to your suitcase, with your name and contact information in the event your luggage goes missing and they need to reach you.
Backup Plan: Credit Card Benefits
I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite card, which also provides delayed baggage protection. Per my card’s benefit guide:
If the Covered Traveler’s Common Carrier checked baggage is delayed
on a Trip, we may reimburse the cost of necessary personal and
business items until their baggage arrives. You are covered for up to
$100 per Covered Traveler, per Trip if the Covered Traveler’s checked
baggage doesn’t get to their destination within 6 hours of arrival.
The above benefit describes in the event that luggage is delayed. If my luggage is actually lost or stolen while traveling, I can be reimbursed up to $3,000 with my credit card.
Airline Policy Quick Links
- American Airlines delayed or damaged bags
- United Airlines checked baggage issues
- Delta Airlines delayed, lost or damaged bags
These are example policies from different U.S. based airlines. If you cannot find the policy for your airline, write to the airline’s customer service and see what they say. It may be helpful to reference other airline’s websites as well.
A lot of people get really stressed out when their luggage is delayed – honestly, I get excited! While it is an inconvenience, I get to go shopping and treat myself! Don’t let your missing luggage stress you out, as your airline may surprisingly have your back.
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