You've just arrived at your beautiful destination for a glorious two-week holiday, and unfortunately your bags are on holiday as well -- on the other side of the country. Here's how to get your worldly possessions back and get on with your relaxing.
So you're standing at the luggage carousel like an douche. Everybody else on your flight has already gotten their gear and left, as have two flights that landed after yours, but you're still there, silently praying that you bag is just a second away from popping through the hole and tumbling down into your waiting arms. It's not going to happen. Here's what to do.
Blaze a Paper Trail
Do not leave the airport without filing a bag claim with the airline. This is essential because, just as with arguing your way out of BS service fees, filing the claim establishes a clear paper trail of when and where the loss occurred. This is super helpful, as nothing stops service agents from giving you the runaround faster than facts, and you're going to get a good deal of runaround.
There should be a claims office in the baggage claim area, otherwise head over to the reservation desk and file it there. Don't wait to get home, do it immediately. The claim process varies between airlines but you should always include your name, date/time of flight, and flight number on any correspondence you have with the company (again, this helps build a clear paper trail).
Click on the airline name below for the link to its complaint contact. You will likely be asked to outline the nature of your problem and here are a couple of things to keep in mind: Keep emails terse and to the point but do include as many details as you can. Don't forget to include all your pertinent contact information, too.
Don't Hesitate to Escalate
So it's been two days in paradise, you're still wearing the same pants you got off the plane with, and the most helpful response you've received from your airline's customer service so far has been a perfunctory shoulder shrug. It's time to complain louder.
Take it to a supervisor, make a racket on your social media pages as well as the pages of the airline.
When director Kevin Smith got booted off a Southwest flight for being to big to fly, his twitter rant prompted an immediate response from Southwest's PR department and a public apology. When a couple of TSA goons hassled Peter "Chewie" Mayhew over his iconic lightsaber cane, a couple of well-placed tweets got the situation resolved post haste.
And you don't need a huge following like these guys, either. Most airlines are extremely active responding to customer requests over Twitter, including those concerning lost or delayed luggage.
@khalafsa I'm sorry about your bag. Please DM your file reference number & I'll look into this for you. *EP
— Delta Assist (@DeltaAssist) June 15, 2013
Hunt It Down Yourself
Just because the guy behind the baggage claim counter doesn't know where your bag is, doesn't mean you shouldn't. Numerous products on the market today are designed specifically to ride shotgun in your checked luggage and report their whereabouts on command.
The Trakdot, for example, announced in January and shipping later this month, uses local cell networks to determine what city your bag is in and relays that information back to your smartphone as a text message. Same with the iTrak, though this system can also call, email, or telex your bag's location. For a less high-tech (and more affordable) solution, the Trace Me luggage tracker is a simple tag with a unique bar code on it. When it's scanned by an airline, law enforcement, or baggage handling representative, you'll receive a text letting you know where it is.
And one final point, don't be a dick to the service reps. They're here to help you, not act as an emotional sponge to your impotent bagless rage. You're going to get what you want a whole lot faster when you treat the person on the other side of the counter like, well, a person. You might even enjoy the rest of your vacation.