Based on statistics from the Department of Transportation, only 0.005% of all checked baggage is permanently lost. Most bags will catch up with you within hours (it's usually on the following flight) and the airline will deliver it to you by courier.
However, in the event that you become separated from your bag, here’s the information you need to track your bag down:
All airlines are liable for compensation if baggage is delayed or damaged due to their own negligence, but this liability doesn’t include fragile articles, liquids, or perishable items. Most airlines are not liable for the following (at airline discretion):
Fragile items, spoilage of perishables, loss/damage/delay of money, jewelry, cameras, electronic/video/photographic equipment, computer equipment, heirlooms, antiques, artwork, silverware, precious metals, negotiable papers/securities, commercial effects, valuable papers, or other irreplaceable items and/or any item where a liability release was signed by the passenger.
A little extra care can keep your bags with you
The airlines have upgraded baggage tracking technology so reuniting you with your misplaced bags is much quicker and easier. As a passenger, you can take certain precautions that can help the airlines return items you leave on a plane or get your bags back to you quickly.
As you pack, follow these tips
- Don’t pack or take expensive items. Leave the items that are hard or impossible to replace at home.If you must travel with expensive items, you can buy excess valuation coverage on the spot at the ticket counter or check with your insurance company before you start your trip.
- Keep prescriptions, travel documents (especially UPC stubs for your checked bags), cash, and jewelry with you as you travel. Buy a bag or money belt to hide your valuables.
- Buy a suitcase with a slide-in window for additional identification (since attached bag tags can be easily torn off) and be sure the address information on your bag tag is up-to-date.
- Consider putting additional identification inside your bag along with a copy of your itinerary to help the airlines know if they should send your bags to your travel destination or your home.
- Put your name and address on every bag. Because of stricter bag limits, carryon suitcases and bags you’ve managed to get on board in the past may now need to be checked.
- Check all the zippers and locks on your bags since they may have become worn or broken on a previous trip and don’t overstuff your bag as it may pop open during handling.
- Make an inventory of the items packed in each bag to help the airlines find your baggage.
- Tie a colored ribbon on the handle of your bag to prevent mix-ups with look-alike bags.
- Be sure to get your bag tag stubs with the UPC bar code as proof that your bag was checked and treat them as important travel documents.
- If your bag doesn’t arrive in the baggage claim area, find the baggage agent on duty immediately. Your bags may have been loaded on a non-stop flight even though you had a stopover and may be locked up in the agent's area for safe keeping.
- If your baggage is really not there, do not leave the airport before completing the paperwork for the baggage agent. Fill out all information about your bags on the forms provided and be as detailed as possible. Get a phone number to call in case you need to follow up.
- Ask for basic amenities such as toothbrush, toothpaste, and razor. Most airlines will provide these for you while you wait.