Lost Luggage? What to do before and after.

The following post is based on a Travelers United article by Charlie Leocha.

Three categories of lost luggage rules … before, during, and after travel.

Every traveler needs to be aware of the luggage rules that should be followed prior to traveling, during check-in and subsequent travel, then finally, upon discovery that their luggage has been damaged, delayed, or lost. Leoca suggests that, “Passengers who follow these rules have far fewer lost and delayed baggage problems and get top compensation from the airlines.

How can travelers reduce the chances of lost luggage? What should a passenger do if their luggage doesn’t arrive on the expected baggage claim carousel?

The basic lost luggage rules follow:

Plan for potential problems

Particularly for longer trips, travelers should use their carry on for essentials: a change of clothes (top to bottom), all prescription medications, and travel-size toiletries in a ziplock bag.

In most cases, airlines typically recover and deliver lost luggage within 24 hours.

Take photos

Travelers should take photos of the items they packed in their luggage to help provide evidence of loss if their luggage goes missing.

Verify that luggage will be transferred at connecting cities

This is typically a problem if the traveler is using airlines that partner with different alliances or are traveling on separately ticketed segments. For example, if your flight includes segments on both Delta and American, there is a good chance that you will need to claim your luggage at the end of the Delta segment and re-check it with American. Additionally, if you are continuing on with the same airline (same day, same city), but the segments are ticketed separately, you will likely need to claim your luggage and recheck it for the second segment. Ask the agent at check-in whether your luggage will be transferred or you will need to claim/re-check it.

Verify the destination

At check-in (whether curbside, self-service kiosk, or with an agent), visually verify that all your luggage is ticketed (or tagged) to the correct destination. Since the bag-tags will use a 3-letter code for the destination airport, make sure you know the correct letters for your intended airport. For example, the two airports in Dallas, Texas are Love Field (DAL) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). A traveler who is not aware of the 3-letter codes, can easily confuse DAL with DFW because DAL clearly means Dallas and he is going to DALLAS Fort Worth Airport.

Submit your luggage on time

Be aware of your airport’s guidelines for luggage submission. Frequently, travelers that use smaller airports think “My airport is small; an hour is plenty of time.” While that might be sufficient most of the time, it may not always be enough, and certainly doesn’t meet airline/airport guidelines. Also, keep in mind that TSA may randomly pick your bag off the belt, adding additional delays for your luggage.

Identify luggage inside and out

Few travelers put identification and destination information inside their luggage, but this small effort will be amply rewarded if your luggage tag gets torn off. Especially if you don’t know exactly what your luggage looks like — and many travelers do not (ask anyone who has stood in a lost-luggage line). So take a moment to note the luggage maker (TravelPro, Samsonite, Delsey, American Tourister, etc.). Also, take a good look at the color. Is it dark blue or is it black? Is that a stripe or a wavy line? Better yet, if you have a camera phone, take a picture of your bag before you hand it over.

Know the compensation limits

Compensation for lost/delayed/damaged baggage is $3,500 per passenger, not per bag. Be aware that you will not be compensated more than $3,500 even if the value of your contents is higher. Be thoughtful in how much you pack.

Fill out all forms at the airport

If your luggage doesn’t arrive at the designated carousel, know the next steps. Contact the airline personnel, who may be able to locate the item(s) through their tracking system. At that point, the airline representative should be able to estimate the time of arrival of your property. If you can wait, do so. If not, complete all the necessary forms so that the airline may deliver your property to the appropriate location.

Ask what the airline can do for you

Depending on the airport, the lost luggage representative may be able to do different, and typically unknown, things for you. For example, if the agent can see that your bag(s) will be delayed for an extended period (i.e., some hours or a day or more), they may be able to give you petty cash to get some necessities. If you are on your way to the ski lodge, you may be able to get coupons for rental clothes for the mountain so that your vacation isn’t delayed.

In the case of damage, the airline may be able to have it repaired during your stay … if you let them know of the damage.

Make a claim

If your luggage is actually lost, which is pretty rare, the airline’s liability in domestic cases is $2,800. In international cases, their liability is less. Be aware of any benefits that you may have through a travel insurance policy, your credit card, or your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance. It’s not a bad idea to make an itemized list (even photograph) of the contents of your luggage in case you need to make an insurance claim.

Again, though completely losing your luggage is rare, it does happen. More often, your luggage may be delayed. In either case, your plans will be disrupted, and the disruption may cause you financial harm. The better prepared you are and the more closely you follow the above suggestions, the more likely your damages will be reduced.

Carnival Cruise Line’s Room Service Policy Updated

Photo by Peter Hansen on Unsplash

TravelMarketReport.com reports that, “Just a few days after announcing that it would eliminate its all-free room service policy, Carnival Cruise Line has announced it will hold back for the time being.”

For the rest of the report, click here.

If you are interested in a Carnival Cruise or any other cruise, contact Discipleship Travel LLC today.

Jordan River Aerial Footage

This aerial photo shows the Jordan River flowing into the north end of the Sea of Galilee.
Photo Credit: courtesy of ©BiblePlaces.com

Recent rains have raised the level of the Sea of Galilee, and Arutz7 provides a nice drone video of the Jordan River bringing some of that water into the lake. See the video here.

U.S. State Department Issues China Travel Warning

The U.S. State Department on Thursday updated its China travel warning, telling Americans to “exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”

To see the full story, click here.

Common Reasons Insurance Claims are Denied

Unfortunately, many travelers find themselves in financial difficulties because they did not purchase travel insurance. There is great wisdom in purchasing travel insurance, but sometimes, even though they did buy insurance, travelers unwittingly negate their insurance benefits or misunderstand what is covered. Below are some common reasons travel insurance claims are denied.

Be aware that it typically takes 30 days from reporting a claim for a final decision to be rendered by the claims adjuster.

Are you sure your policy covered you for this kind of claim?

We’re all aware of the importance of reading the fine print of contracts. But, too often, travelers don’t read their insurance plan completely. Only after a claim is denied or delayed do they realize they haven’t followed the agreement they purchased.

Travel insurance can certainly be confusing. And every policy is worded differently. Travel Insurance Claims 101 says, “check your terms and conditions.” There’s a reason behind the insurance rules, and you have to follow them.

For example, too many policyholders believe even the slightest flight delay qualifies them for a claim, when typically, a delay needs to be for three hours or more.

Another common misconception is trip cancellation due to a storm. During last year’s terrible hurricane season, insurance companies saw a large spike in claims for canceled or delayed vacations. What many vacationers found out was they weren’t covered because they waited too long to purchase their policy, or the storm’s impact wasn’t sufficient enough for a trip to be canceled.

Additionally, a cruise company or airline has to cease service due to weather for most basic coverage to be activated. The flight has to have been grounded, or your resort badly damaged. Simply being afraid to visit a destination hit by a storm, when your travel suppliers haven’t been damaged, could delay or deny your claim.

If you are really worried about hurricanes, ask for the most hurricane related coverage your provider offers, which might be ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage.

Travelers should review their policy with a licensed travel insurance expert prior to purchase and make certain they know everything about their covered perils and exclusions.

What was diagnosed by a professional, and when did you report that to the insurance company?

You may feel sick, and know you have to fly, but you don’t go to the doctor. So now you don’t have proof of your physical condition, but you’re asking an insurance company to believe you. Insurance companies need proof. Without notes from your doctor, you’re probably going to have a problem getting your claim approved.

If you are feeling sick, feeling concerned not to go on trip, call in advance to get some guidance before making a decision and starting a claim process.

Do you have all of your paperwork, and did you file the right claim form?

It’s easy to lose receipts and printouts from doctors, hospitals and others that might have been involved in an event. But the more you follow your travel insurance company’s process, the less likely you will experience a delay, or be denied.

It’s also critical that you follow your insurer’s documentation requirements for things like lost and delayed luggage.

When did you seek medical treatment?

Just because you got sick while traveling, doesn’t mean you have documentation to prove it. Seeking treatment prior to returning home and saving all medical documentation is critical to proving both your expense, and the fact that an event occurred.

Definitely get documentation during the trip, and if you forget, seek additional treatment upon return. Anything you do to get an independent, qualified party to document your case will be of assistance to you during your claim.

Was your condition pre-existing?

Pre-existing conditions are a common tripwire for claim delays and denials. Travelers should request a plan that includes a pre-existing medical conditions waiver if this could be an issue. Often purchasing a policy within a certain amount of time (usually 14-21 days) after the first payment of the trip provides coverage for pre-existing conditions. (NOTE: the traveler should verify the accuracy of this information as it relates to the specific policy they are considering.)

Important steps to take:

*Gather all paperwork and documentation in advance and obtain any claims-related medical documents and/or police reports prior to returning home.

*Understand your travel insurance policy language prior to departure.

*Buy travel insurance as early as possible to increase your eligibility for time-sensitive benefits and to ensure your trip cost is accurate.

*Expect claim processing delays following major travel events, like hurricanes.

If you need insurance for your next trip, click here for a variety of coverage options.

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