Some useful information here. Apparently, over 200,000 bags are lost by airlines in the UK every month! That's 2.4 million bags lost each year!
In reality, there isn't a black hole somewhere swallowing up thousands of bags each day, it is just that checked bags are not re-united with their owners within 21 days of the flight. It costs airlines a lot of money to locate a lost bag, identify the owner and send it to them. It is often more cost effective not to bother too much. After 21 days, the bag is declared officially lost which means the airline can either dump it when found or, as more often happens, they sell the bag to companies who buy up lost luggage to see what is in them. Bit like 'Storage Wars'.
So what do you need to do if you land back in the UK but your luggage doesn't. Here is our 5 point guide:
1. Go straight to the luggage handling counter at the airport you arrive in and report your bag has been lost. Produce your bag tags which are usually stuck by the checking-in agent into your passport or on the back of your ticket.
2. Fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) form and hand this in to the handling agent. Take a photo of the form and get details of the handling agent.
3. Tell your travel insurer - to put them on notice.
4. Keep chasing the luggage handling agent - they will want you to stop hassling them so may make more effort to locate your bag.
5. After 21 days, your bag will be declared lost. Inform your travel insurer and make a claim against your policy. Alternatively, make a claim against the airline as follows:
(a) Most airlines will have a lost luggage form for complete.
(b) Bizarrely you will need to detail what was in your case and the value of each item. You will also be asked for receipts!
(c) You probably won't have any receipts so instead provide evidence of the cost of each item. The more detail the better. Don't forget to include the cost of the bag itself not just the contents.
(d) Based on the information you provide, the airline will make an offer for the lost bag. Be warned, it will be less than you expect. They will assume all items are second hand and will discount or dismiss anything claimed without a receipt. The maximum sum they are required to pay is ?897 but in practice they pay considerably less than this.
It is generally easier to claim from your travel insurer as they often pay fixed sums of money upon production of the lost luggage declaration provided by the airline.
So there you have it. Lots of hassle and admin which seems unfair. Of course, if your luggage is lost on the outward bound flight, you will find yourself on holiday without any clean pants or your toothbrush. The airline should provide you with some money to pay for emergency items whilst they look for your bag. Small comfort and frustrating. Don't forget to complete (a) to (d) above at the arrival airport so you are not left without proof of you loss.