Lost luggage is the situation we all dread when travelling. We hope you haven’t experienced that sinking realisation that your hold luggage has not made it to your final destination. Faced with the reality that you will be starting your holiday without your personal items and clothing.

Here’s our advice as to what to do in the situation of lost luggage:

The first thing to do is to complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) in arrivals before you leave. If your airline does not have a representative / desk in this area, use the service desk to obtain your PIR.

To report your lost luggage, you will need the luggage receipt issued to you at check in. This has an 8-10 digit reference use to tag your suitcases.

You will be asked to give a description of your missing bags, plus your address and contact number.

Your PIR reference is an 8 or 10 digit alphanumeric code issued when you’ve completed your report.

Next you need to make a formal claim of lost luggage with your airline.

Check if your airline has a baggage tracking service on their website or app, where you can enter your PIR reference to check the status of your luggage.

You can also enter your PIR reference and surname into the World Tracer website to track your luggage.

The majority of bags are returned to their rightful owner within 36 hours of being reported. If not luggage is officially determined as lost after 21 days from your flight.

Who is responsible and what can you do if your luggage is lost?

The airline is responsible for your luggage according to the Montreal Convention of 1999 regarding “carriage of passengers, luggage and cargo”.

Your missing case is limited to the the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) amount of 1,288. The amount in GBP depends on the international currency exchange, when we last checked 1 XDR =  1.08679 GBP, therefore £1399.79. However it is rare that this level of compensation is paid out.

If your luggage is damaged, you only have 7 days to notify the airline. For delayed or lost luggage you have up to 21 days to make a claim.

If you are authorised to replace any essential items by the airline, please keep your receipts and your boarding card as this could be required in a claim. Each airline has their individual policies for this situation, there’s no set ruling as to what should be offered.

If you have taken more than one flight, you should start with the most recent airline.

You can only claim once, either from the airline or your travel insurance. If the airline doesn’t offer you suitable compensation, you could take the claim to your insurers.

Some tips of what you can do in advance to help in a lost luggage situation:

Pack an emergency outfit in your hand luggage – things will feel better with a clean set of knickers on!

Split clothing between your cases if travelling with others – rather than packing all your individual items into one case per person.

Check you have actually collected the right suitcase of the luggage conveyer belt – you’d be surprised how many passengers leave the airport with the wrong case! We’re not suggesting that you have a unique suitcase with your face printed on. Maybe use a small identifier, such as tying a coloured ribbon on or attaching a small mascot to personalise your luggage. It’s worth taking a moment to unzip a pocket and check the items inside are familiar before you head off.

Pack any daily medication required in your hand luggage, if that’s possible with airport security regulations. The same goes for contact lenses and glasses. Is there any other essential you couldn’t do without? If so add that to hand luggage too.

Take a photo of your suitcase before travelling –  so that you can easily identify the brand, size and colour to the airline in case of a claim.

We sincerely hope you aren’t affected by lost luggage on your travels, that’s definitely not the way anyone wants to start their holiday.