What do I need to do if my luggage is lost while traveling internationally?

What to Do If Your Luggage is Lost While Traveling Internationally

What do I need to do if my luggage is lost while traveling internationally?

Traveling internationally can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. One of the most frustrating and stressful situations that can occur while traveling is the loss of luggage. Not only can it disrupt your travel plans, but it can also cause a lot of inconvenience and anxiety. In this article, we will discuss what you need to do if your luggage is lost while traveling internationally, and provide you with some helpful tips to minimize the impact of this unfortunate event.

Why Does Luggage Get Lost While Traveling Internationally?

Before we dive into the steps you should take if your luggage is lost, it’s important to understand why this happens in the first place. According to a study by SITA, a leading air transport communications and IT solutions provider, around 24.8 million bags were mishandled in 2018, with the majority of them being lost or temporarily misplaced.

There are several reasons why luggage may get lost while traveling internationally, including:

  • Human error: With thousands of bags being handled and transferred at airports every day, it’s not uncommon for bags to be mistakenly sent to the wrong destination or not loaded onto the correct flight.
  • Technical issues: Baggage handling systems can malfunction, leading to delays and misrouted bags.
  • Weather conditions: Severe weather conditions can cause flight delays and cancellations, which can result in luggage being left behind or sent to the wrong destination.
  • Theft: Unfortunately, theft can also occur during the baggage handling process, especially in countries with high crime rates.

What to Do If Your Luggage is Lost While Traveling Internationally

Now that we understand why luggage may get lost while traveling, let’s discuss the steps you should take if this happens to you.

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1. Report the Loss Immediately

If your luggage doesn’t arrive at the baggage claim area, the first thing you should do is report it to the airline’s baggage service office. This should be done before leaving the airport, as most airlines have a limited time frame for reporting lost luggage. Make sure to provide a detailed description of your bag and its contents, as well as your contact information.

2. Fill Out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR)

After reporting the loss, the airline will ask you to fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). This report is essential as it serves as a formal record of your lost luggage and will be used to track and locate it. Make sure to keep a copy of the PIR for your records.

3. Keep All Documents and Receipts

It’s important to keep all documents and receipts related to your lost luggage, such as your boarding pass, baggage claim tags, and PIR. These documents will be required if you need to file a claim for compensation or reimbursement.

4. Stay in Contact with the Airline

After reporting the loss, make sure to stay in contact with the airline and provide them with any additional information they may need. You can also track the status of your lost luggage through the airline’s website or app.

5. File a Claim for Compensation

If your luggage is not found within a certain time frame (usually 21 days), you can file a claim for compensation. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the airline’s policies and the value of the lost items. Make sure to provide proof of purchase for any expensive items in your luggage.

How to Minimize the Impact of Lost Luggage

While losing your luggage can be a stressful and frustrating experience, there are some steps you can take to minimize its impact on your trip.

1. Pack Essential Items in Your Carry-On

Make sure to pack essential items such as medication, important documents, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. This way, if your checked luggage is lost, you will still have the necessary items with you.

2. Use Luggage Tracking Devices

Investing in a luggage tracking device can help you locate your lost luggage quickly. These devices use GPS technology to track the location of your bag, and some even come with a built-in alarm to alert you if your bag is moved without your knowledge.

3. Purchase Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or delayed luggage, as well as other travel-related mishaps. Make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what is covered before purchasing it.


Losing your luggage while traveling internationally can be a frustrating and stressful experience, but it’s important to stay calm and follow the necessary steps to locate and retrieve your bag. By reporting the loss immediately, keeping all documents and receipts, and staying in contact with the airline, you can increase the chances of your luggage being found and returned to you. Additionally, taking some precautions such as packing essential items in your carry-on and using luggage tracking devices can help minimize the impact of lost luggage on your trip. Remember to always be prepared for the unexpected when traveling and stay positive, as sometimes the best memories are made when things don’t go as planned.

Question and Answer

Q: Is it common for luggage to get lost while traveling internationally?

A: While it’s not a common occurrence, it does happen. According to a study by SITA, around 5.69 bags per 1,000 passengers were mishandled in 2018. However, the majority of these bags were eventually reunited with their owners within 48 hours.

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