Lost luggage: what a travel agent should warn their 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 stuff from getting lost. Here we're sharing a ready-to-use guide, which you can print out for your clients.
13 minutes for reading
Every fifth tourist has lost their luggage at an airport at least once. The good news is that 90% of them got 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'll definitely 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 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 its delivery

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:

  • their name and surname;
  • their contact information (address, phone number, email);
  • the flight number;
  • their baggage tag information (this tag is attached to a boarding pass, so remind your tourist that they shouldn't throw it away before leaving the airport successfully);
  • the description of their suitcase and a few of the things inside.

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

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

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

We also recommend your tourists to learn a couple of survival phrases in the local language (including those connected to airports and travel in general). Remind your tourist to download an offline translator app on their smartphone. That may make their trip easier!
Why it's so important to explain the course of action to your tourists
Let's imagine the situation when a tourist's baggage is lost and they don't understand what to do at the airport. He/she is nervous and confused in an unfamiliar environment, their bags are missing, and the time is running out.

Moreover,  there is a transfer, shuttle, or any other pre-arranged transport waiting for them…

As a result, the problem may become more serious: your tourist won't be able to leave the airport in time, will lose their money, and you'll also have to figure out how to take the poor guys 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 they get stuck at an airport, they should immediately warn their guide or driver about this. If you have the contact information of that person in advance, give it to your tourist before the trip.

  • If you've booked a Kiwitaxi transfer for your client, remember that the free waiting time at an airport is 1,5 hours. Then, waiting can be charged extra, but you still need to warn your driver that you're leaving the airport later. Otherwise, the order will be canceled without a refund.
If baggage is found
According to the law, an airline has 21 days to find lost luggage. In fact, the majority of passengers get their bags back during the first couple of days after the loss.

Once the baggage is found, airline staff contacts passengers and negotiate a time and place for returning the lost belongings. They may send a suitcase to the tourists' home or hotel, or the tourists may have to take it at the airport himself/herself.

When receiving their baggage, it's strongly recommended that a tourist checks the condition of their suitcase and its contents. If something is lost or damaged, they have 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 the SDR (Special Drawing Rights). 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, they will have to attach pictures of some of their belongings.
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
This is simple. Traveling with such baggage, tourists can use any means of public transport. It's just a matter of their desired comfort level.

Offer your client a transfer, because even a mid-sized suitcase may cause a lot of trouble for a tired tourist after the flight. A transfer driver will help them carry the stuff to the car, load everything into it, and bring it to the hotel's 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 to perform the trip.

A transfer will solve this 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 or non-standart luggage, a driver has the right to refuse a trip without a refund.
The help with luggage is usually a good reason to make a client book a transfer. It works for families and elderly tourists, groups of travelers, and those who are traveling with sport 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's commission.
How to prevent
baggage from getting lost

Tell your tourist about what can reduce their costs in case of lost baggage or even prevent the bags from getting lost:

  • Taking pictures of a suitcase and belongings inside.

  • Choosing a bright and strong suitcase or attaching 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 their baggage and check it in for the next flight himself/herself.

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

  • Purchasing baggage insurance when buying a ticket.

  • Keeping receipts at hand for the things bought while waiting for the airline to find the lost suitcase (instead of those which were inside of the lost baggage).
Share this information with your clients before a trip. Acquaint them with the course of action in case of baggage loss. This will help your tourist get their bearings back faster and reduce the risk of more serious costs caused by loss of time.
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