While travel can be enlightening, entertaining and even empowering it is not free from hassles and horrid situations. It can at times, seem like a bad dream from which you are unable to awaken even after consistent efforts. These nightmarish situations can befall us due to poor planning, sheer bad luck or because we are at the mercy of service providers.
One very common problem faced by travellers is baggage being delayed or left behind by the airlines.
You touch down and post hours of trying to fit into their narrow and uncomfortable seats, you make your way to retrieve your checked-in baggage. After 45 minutes, one piece of baggage is nowhere to be seen. Panic hitting you, you rush to customer care to register your complain and after some more precious time lost, you are informed that the baggage has been left behind. And then you are further notified that it could take 24 – 72 hours to locate and deliver your baggage to you. How can a vacation start off on such a bad note? Even though tired and hungry after a long flight, the thought of exploring a new place after a few hours of rest is what keeps holiday travellers on a high. Phoosh… deflated, you look at each other and just slump down on the nearby available seats.
Thankfully, your connecting transportation is later in the afternoon and you fervently pray that the baggage would reach you before that by the next flight (where it was off-loaded and left behind) in the next 5 hours. And your agonising wait starts. Your intention was to avail the locker service in the airport and venture out to explore the city. Not happening. You wait out the next two flights but in vain, as your baggage is not on those.
Before you leave the area you are informed that your baggage has been located and would be delivered to you the next day before 5:00 PM.
That piece of baggage contained all items; clothes, footwear, toiletries and accessories of one travelling member. Fortunately, medication and relevant documents like hotel bookings, entry tickets etc. were in another piece of checked-in baggage.
There is nothing specific planned for the next day and so that is a huge relief. It is difficult to co-ordinate with the delivery company, it being a Sunday. Your wait for the delivery continues, the day going waste and nothing able to uplift your spirits. Finally, the baggage is delivered around 4:00 PM and handed over after necessary verification.
This is an account of our personal experience and it has taught us a few significant things travellers need to be aware of when faced with such a situation.
Key things to remember
- First and foremost, file a complaint and claim with the concerned airlines.
- Always pack a small cabin bag that holds a change of clothes and basic toiletries for each travelling member.
- Always keep relevant documents, cash / credit cards and required amount of medication (as permissible) with necessary doctor’s prescription in the cabin bag.
- Never make any activity reservations / entry bookings for the very next day of your journey. Be prepared for the unexpected.
- Most airlines compensate for the inconvenience caused till the time of the delivery. Make purchases as required and keep the receipts / bills for verification. These (we spent on one pair of clothes, undergarments and socks), we emailed along with the accurately filled in form to the relevant authority and were credited with the amount within 48 hours. The amount spent depends on how many hours were lost in getting back your baggage and what is considered the necessary purchase.
- You can also hold your travel insurance company accountable for this mishap if it falls under the guidelines.
Additional information – Most airports have a ‘Lost & Found’ counter where they keep the items that are left behind on the aircrafts. These, you can collect within a month of the ‘lost’ date. Familiarise yourself with the FAQs that are provided on the website of the relevant airport and you will surely come across an e-mail address for such concerns in case, you discover later that something has been left behind on the aircraft. Keep your boarding cards handy for such instances.
Finally, don’t keep fretting over what happened and what could have happened. Such instances do happen all the time and sometimes, they happen to us personally. Focus on your vacation, enjoy and make the most of it.