What Happens to Lost Baggage?

Three million bags a year are estimated to be lost in the EU, according to recent statistics from the European Airline Association. A staggering one million are never returned to their rightful owners.

Worldwide, with the recent natural disasters and flight disruptions it isn’t surprising that there has been an increase of more than 17% of mishandled bags over the previous year, totalling 30 million in 2010.^

How many of these passengers actually get their luggage back? A recent Post Office travel insurance survey said that 66% of people are reunited with their belongings in three days or less, 29% have to wait a week or more and only 5% never get their bags back.

So where do unclaimed bags end up?

There are a few auction houses in the UK which will handle unclaimed baggage. The contents are sorted before bidding starts, valuables will be set aside and items like laptops and cameras will be auctioned separately. Imagine what you could get your hands on!

A British Airways spokesperson said, “It’s rare for items to not be returned, but if we can’t reunite lost items with their owners, after 90 days anything valuable is sent off to be auctioned and the proceeds put towards charity.”

A few tips when travelling:

  • Anything valuable needs to stay with you at all times, either in a pocket or in your hand luggage. This can include medication, cameras, laptops, money and ongoing travel documents. (Include an itinerary in your luggage so that the Airline knows where you are travelling to).
  • Label your luggage, buy a sturdy address tag you can attach to your bag and ensure your recent address and telephone number is listed. If your luggage does get lost then the airline will know who to contact!
  • Make your baggage easy to spot from a distance (when it is on the carousel waiting to be picked up for example). A bright ribbon or baggage strap will do.
  • If you are on a non –direct flight, check if you will need to collect and re-check your luggage or if it will meet you at the final destination.
  • Arrive in plenty of time at check in to allow your bags to make it the aircraft in time. A late check-in can increase the chances of losing your luggage.
  • Ensure your luggage is in your sight at all times. Insurance companies have different definitions of what will be covered if luggage is lost, stolen or damaged whilst unattended^^.

Make sure you have your travel insurance in place before you jet off. 24/7 travel insurance not only covers you for lost, stolen or damaged property up to £2,500* for personal possessions, it also provides up to £250* to cover essential items if you are waiting more than 12 hours for your luggage to arrive. A 7 day break in Europe will cost just £10.20**.

^Source – http://www.etravelblackboard.com – 03/05/2011

^^For Single Trip/Annual Multi-Trip 24/7 Travel Insurance Policies unattended means left away from your person where you are unable to clearly see and are unable to get hold of your personal possessions.

*Amounts quoted are based on a Single Trip/Annual Multi-Trip ‘Premier’ 24/7 Travel Insurance policy. You must read the policy wording to ensure you are familiar with your cover.

** Premium £10.20 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a ‘Premier’ Single Trip 24/7 Travel Insurance policy including personal possessions cover for 7 days in Europe and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (May 2011) and are subject to change.