Here’s what to do when an airline loses your luggage and how to mitigate travel headaches before you get to the airport

Airplane travelers waiting for luggage from a conveyor belt.

Airplane travelers waiting for luggage from a conveyor belt.izusek/Getty Images

  • Airline travel in recent months has been wrought with stories of lost or ruined luggage, delays, and cancellations.

  • Reports of lost luggage in 2022 have soared by at least 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

  • If an airline loses your luggage, here’s what to do and how to mitigate resulting travel headaches.

Amid the holiday surge in flight delays and cancellations, a deadly winter storm that left over 2,700 Southwest flights grounded the day after Christmas has travelers reporting an ‘Armageddon of luggage‘ where baggage takes hours to claim — if it arrives at all.

Claims of lost luggage have spiked in 2022, increasing by 30% compared to 2019 claims over the same period, Insider previously reported. In August alone — the most recent data — US airlines lost, delayed, or damaged 254,502 bags, according to a report from The Department of Transportation.

Here’s what you should do if an airline loses your luggage, as well as a few tips on how to minimize the damage ahead of time.

Report missing luggage ASAP

Report missing luggage immediately.

Report missing luggage immediately.Hinterhaus Productions via Getty Images

Some airlines allow you to track your checked luggage from the airline’s app, which can be a great way to keep tabs on your bags while you travel. But what happens when you go to baggage claim and your checked bag never comes around the carousel?

Experts recommend reporting your missing luggage as soon as you realize it did not reach its destination. Find your airline’s baggage desk, file a claim, and ask for a copy or a receipt for your records.

Ask for reimbursements and free delivery of lost luggage

When you check in for a flight, the fees for checked bags can

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