Lost Luggage: Will I ever find my stuff?

Many travelers know that sinking feeling while standing at the luggage carousel. You keep watching for your suitcase- you will know it will appear in a second. It may look like 57 others coming around but travelers’ know their luggage. As time goes on, it is clear that your bag has not arrived at your destination.

Your next stop is the consumer service department of the hotel or airline. With today’s automated luggage tracking system, over 90% of bags are found and arrive at the place of your choosing within 12 hours. Another 8% are found and delivered to you within 72 hours. In those cases, you know that you will get back your suitcase filled with what you packed. Lost luggage is not limited to the airlines- bus travel, cruise ships and even hotels; your bag may take a trip of its own!

Then there are those times that you know your bag will not be coming home and that you will need to file a claim and wait, and wait. The airlines have lost luggage polices and your will need to follow their rules and timing. (You may even have additional lost luggage coverage from the credit card company- if you charged your travel on a credit card.) The immediate challenge is replacing clothing and the toiletries with your cash.

Sadly, a family friend recently had to find out the hard way the cost of luggage that will probably never find its way back. It has now been 25 long days with numerous calls, visits to airports and e mails to very helpful people. She will get some money back from the airlines, the credit card company and may even get some coverage from her home owners insurance. One struggle is that many times without receipts for the items- coverage is greatly reduced. And that is the challenge that Emily faced with her claim because very few of us have that level of detail of receipts for clothing purchase over time. I shopped with her and tracked the most basic of costs.

Here is a summary of her expenses:
Suitcase- medium grade, same size $280.
5 cosmetic bags, $40.00 (She could use zip lock bags but many of the bags were gifts over the years)
Travel size replacements for the most basic toiletries at a discount store, $38.00.
Curling iron, $47.
1 pr. shoes, $65.00 and flip flops, $9.
Underwear and PJ- $74.00.
3 pair dress slacks, $198.
4 shirts- (summer sale) $76.
Hoodie, $48.
Work out gear, $38.
Cosmetics $74.
2 paper back books $15.

A grand total of out of pocket of $ 1015.00!

Stay tuned for progress with her claim.


Cathy Williams is a former writer for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.