What happens if your checked baggage is lost? Here’s what to do.

Among the many headaches of traveling this summer, including flight delays and cancellations, there’s another one that can be particularly frustrating: delayed or lost baggage.

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, said the stats were a few months behind: “I think it’s reasonable to assume that the rate of mishandled baggage in the United States is probably a bit higher right now. time given the problems plaguing airlines in general,” citing issues such as staff shortages and high travel demand.

“All of these things put pressure on the system, and it’s not like the baggage handling system is somehow completely immune to these factors,” Keyes said, noting that the problem is much worse in Europe.

Here are some tips on what to do if your baggage is delayed or lost, including how the airlines might compensate you.

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What if an airline loses its baggage?

Olivia Nash Richardson, founder of travel agency Nash Travel Management, said to keep a detailed list of everything you’ve packed.

“Keep it on your phone or whatever to know the approximate value of what you’re packing,” she said. Keyes also suggested taking pictures of the items for proof.

If your bag doesn’t turn up at your destination, Richardson said, don’t leave the airport and go straight to the baggage counter with photos of your bag — something travelers should keep on their phone — the brand, the dimensions and any other identification. Features.

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Will the airline compensate you for missing baggage?

For delayed baggage, airlines must compensate passengers for “reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental costs they may incur while their baggage is delayed,” up to maximum liability limits, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

For domestic flights, this amount is $3,800, although airlines may choose to pay more. For most international flights, that number is lower at around $1,780.

If the airlines find that a piece of baggage is lost, they must compensate you for its contents, taking into account depreciation as well as the same maximum liability amounts.

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Keyes said airlines will try to reimburse passengers “more or less the exact dollar amount you lost.” Richardson also suggested reading the airline’s lost baggage policy before departing on your trip.

In the event of a baggage delay, American Airlines, for example, will reimburse passengers for items they “need immediately while away from home without their baggage,” according to its website. The airline advises travelers to send copies of their baggage claim checks and ticket receipt, their case reference number and original dated itemized receipts within 30 days.

If an airline is dragging its feet on compensating you, Keyes said, file a complaint with the DOT.

To what extent is your luggage permanently missing?

In the United States, airlines mishandled nearly 220,000 bags in April, according to the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

However, Richardson said bags missing for good “isn’t uncommon, but it’s not nearly as prevalent either.” In his experience, 30% of bags that go missing never find their owners.

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