Lost luggage: Best ways to get reimbursed by airlines

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Lost luggage: Best ways to get reimbursed by airlines
The number of mishandled, lost, or bungled baggage has doubled over the last two years.7 On Your Side has tips for travelers.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The number of mishandled, lost, or bungled baggage has doubled over the last two years.

But, how do you eliminate a problem before you board? Or get top dollar if your bag goes missing? 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has all the answers.

Waiting for luggage that doesn't arrive is the worst. You have to stand in line, fill out forms, and wait.

Lauren DeGennaro, a junior at Syracuse University, was flying home from a semester abroad in Florence when hundreds of bags never got to Newark.

"Initially they said they lost 255 pieces of luggage," she said.

And weeks later, dozens of college students were still looking for their MIA luggage from Lufthansa airline.

Travelers have certain rights when it comes to lost delayed or damaged bags.

First, airlines are required to compensate passengers for any incidental expenses that they may incur while bags are delayed.

"You have to show that these are reasonable and actual expenses that you incurred as a result of the delayed bag, many credit cards will also give $100 a day," said Scot Keyes, founder of travel site Going.com.

He said most airlines consider a bag lost between 5-14 days after the flight.

For international flights, the maximum bag liability is approximately $1,700 per passenger. For domestic flights, the federal DOT allows airlines to limit their liability to $3,800 per traveler.

"One of the best tips you can do as a traveler before handing your bag over to an airline agent, is open it up, pull out a phone, and take a picture," Keyes said.

Use baggage tracking which can help give you peace of mind that your bag is on the flight with you or locate it if it's mishandled or delayed.

And, review your credit card coverage. Before you buy extra travel insurance, Keyes suggested you check your credit card policy for travel protection.

After submitting receipts and requesting reimbursement, 20-year-old DeGennaro said she and her fellow students got nowhere.

"I was just frustrated because I could not get any information about where the bags were, if they were going to be returned," her mother Peg DeGennaro said.

The family reached out to 7 On Your Side and we reached out to the airline.

Lufthansa apologized for the delays to the student group and cited a serious winter storm in Europe that impacted their hub in Munich.

About two weeks after their flight, DeGennaro's last bag was delivered and Lufthansa cut a check for $962.

Most airlines exclude covering electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables from lost luggage, so anytime you travel, make sure to carry those items with you.

Click here for a list of passenger rights and rules.

Read the full statement from Lufthansa below:

"Due to privacy rules I cannot discuss individual customer complaints. In the matter if the student group flying from Italy back to the USA in December 2022, Lufthansa apologises for the delay in the group's luggage . That specific day (December 15th, 2022) a serious winter storm affected operations in Munich, the hub the group was flying to, causing delays to flights for thousands of travellers using the airport for transfers . All efforts were made to send delayed baggage in a timely manner , however in isolated cases it took much longer to transfer the bags to the US, clear CBP and send to customers. The airline industry has clear guidelines for liability in the case of lost as well as delayed luggage . Reimbursements in the case of delayed luggage offer customers 50% reimbursement for clothing and 100% for undergarments, within reason. Airlines cannot reimburse for articles purchased after delivery of luggage not for items where the date of purchase is not clearly marked and is related to the delayed luggage."

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