Lost baggage: what a travel agent should warn his/her tourist about

In this post, we explain why it's so important to instruct  tourists on how to look for their baggage properly and how to prevent their things from getting lost. Also, we share a ready-to-use guide, which you can print out for your clients.
13 minutes for reading
Every fifth tourist has ever lost his/her baggage at an airport. The good news is that 90% of them get it back in the next 2 days.

The problem is that tourists rarely know what to do when their things are lost. If something goes wrong, they call you. It’s even more difficult if this happens during night flights. That’s why you should explain to your tourists which steps they should take in case of baggage loss in advance.
Why airlines lose baggage
  • Most often, baggage is lost during sorting or its transportation between planes.

  • There’s also a human factor when a suitcase is accidentally taken by another passenger. But such cases are far less frequent.

  • The reason for wrong sorting may be a lost baggage tag or, on the contrary, plenty of tags left after other flights.

  • If a passenger makes a connecting flight, and the connection time is too short, airline baggage handlers may fail to put a suitcase on the next flight on time.
Note: an airline which registers baggage
and loads it on a flight is responsible for it

What a tourist needs to do
Your client should take the following course of action:

1. Go to the oversized baggage desk
Sometimes, baggage is sent for additional inspection or mistakenly sorted as oversized.

2. Go to the Lost&Found desk
Here, a tourist can file a lost baggage report. A passenger will be asked to specify:

  • his/her name and surname;
  • his/her contact information (address, phone number, email);
  • the number of his/her flight;
  • his/her baggage tag information (this tag is attached to a boarding pass, so remind your tourist that he/she should throw it away only after he/she successfully leaves an airport);
  • the description of his/her suitcase and a few things.

3. Wait for the answer and check the status of missing baggage
Once a tourist has filed a report, he/she will get a number to track the status of his/her lost bag. One can check the status of missing baggage using the WorldTracer service or on an airline website.

Links to websites where one can track the search process can be found in a checklist at the end of this blog post.

If a tourist gets lost at an airport and doesn't know where these desks are located, he/she can ask any airport staff member for help.

When traveling across Russia, it would be useful for a tourist to know a few phrases in Russian. At least, their spelling:

  • Baggage — Багаж, sounds like 'bagazh' with emphasis on the second syllable
  • Oversized Baggage — Негабаритный груз [negabaritnii gruz]
  • Lost&Found — Розыск багажа [rozisk bagazha]

We also added all these phrases to the checklist for your tourists. Remind your tourist to download an offline translator app on his/her smartphone.
Why it’s so important to convey the course of action to your tourist

Let’s imagine the situation when tourist’s baggage is lost and he/she doesn’t understand what to do at the airport. He/she is nervous and confused in an unfamiliar environment. His/her bags are missing, he/she doesn’t know what to do, and his/her time is running out.

At the same time, there is a transfer, shuttle, or other pre-arranged transport waiting for him/her…

As a result, the problem may become more serious: your tourist won’t be able to leave the airport on time, will lose his/her money, and you’ll also have to figure out how to take the poor guy to the hotel.

  • Be sure to inform your client (or better put this information in a tourist cheat sheet) how long a group/private transfer is waiting for passengers.

  • Explain to your tourist that in case he/she gets stuck at an airport, he/she should immediately warn his/her guide or driver about this. If you have the contact information of that person in advance, give it to your tourist.

  • If you’ve booked a Kiwitaxi transfer for your client, remember that the free waiting time at an airport is 1 hour. The second hour of waiting is charged extra, but to have it, you need to warn a driver in advance. Otherwise, an order will be canceled without a refund.
If baggage is found
According to the law, an airline has 21 days to find lost baggage. In fact, the majority of passengers get their bags back during the first two days after the loss.

Once baggage is found, airline staff contact a passenger and negotiate a time and place for returning lost things with him/her. They may send a suitcase to his/her home or hotel, or a tourist may have to take it at an airport himself/herself.

When receiving his/her baggage, it’s strongly recommended that a tourist checks the condition of his/her suitcase and its contents. If something is lost or damaged, he/she has the right to claim for compensation.
If baggage is not found
If 21 days have passed, and baggage is still not found, it's considered irretrievably lost. In this case, a tourist can ask an airline for compensation.

The amount of compensation is calculated according to the Montreal Convention.

Payouts are tied to SDR. The maximum payout amount is 1,131 SDR. As of November 25, 2019, 1 SDR equals 1.24 euros. A passenger will have to justify the amount of the compensation he/she claims. To do that, he/she will have to attach pictures of some of his/her things.

When flying within Russia, a passenger can get not more than 600 rubles (around 8.20 euros) for 1 kg of baggage.
Baggage is not lost but…
There are some important rules regarding transportation of some types of baggage. You should know them and take them into account before arranging a tour.

Difficulties may arise during a tourist's trip from an airport to a hotel and vice versa.
Situation 1: a tourist is traveling with one medium-sized suitcase
It’s simple. Traveling with such baggage, he/she can use any means of public transport. It’s just a matter of his/her personal comfort level.

Offer your client a transfer, because even a mid-sized suitcase may cause a lot of trouble for a tired tourist after a long flight. A transfer driver will help him/her carry his/her things to a car, load them into it, and bring them to hotel reception.
Situation 2: a tourist is traveling with oversized baggage or lots of baggage items
In this case, taxis and buses may charge your client extra or even refuse a trip.

A transfer will solve the transportation problem. However, it’s very important to remember:
When booking a transfer, inform the Customer Support Service about the approximate baggage dimensions. If you don’t warn the transfer company about your tourist’s large baggage, a driver has the right to refuse a trip without a refund.
Help with baggage is a good trigger to make a client book a transfer. It works for families and elderly tourists, groups of travelers, and those who are traveling with sports equipment.

Kiwitaxi offers the additional service of transporting ski equipment. Selling it, as well as other extra services, a travel agent earns 50% of the Kiwitaxi commission.
How to prevent
baggage from getting lost

Tell your tourist about what can reduce his/her costs in case of lost baggage or even prevent his/her bags from being lost:

  • Taking pictures of a suitcase and things.

  • Choosing a bright and strong suitcase or fixing something to a suitcase that makes it stand out from other bags.

  • Carefully checking the number of a conveyor belt on which suitcases will be loaded after arrival.

  • Removing unnecessary tags left after previous flights on time.

  • In case of connecting flights, asking an airline about how baggage will be transported. Sometimes, at a connecting airport, a tourist needs to collect his/her baggage and check it in for the next flight himself/herself.

  • If a tourist is transporting something valuable, he/she should declare this thing at an airport and pay a fee.

  • Purchasing baggage insurance when buying a ticket.

  • Keeping receipts for things bought while waiting for a suitcase (instead of those which were in tourist’s baggage).
Download the checklist for tourists and share it with your clients before a trip. Acquaint your clients with the course of action in case of baggage loss. This guide will help a tourist get his/her bearings faster and reduce the risk of more serious costs caused by loss of time.
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