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Dude, where's my luggage?
June 21, 2006 17:00


Please don't worry, your suitcase was by mistake sent to Reykjavik", -- these words could drive one mad, but still such things happen quite often in international airports all over the world, whatever the airline you fly.

Now for the bad news. According to figures released by the Association of European Airlines for the first quarter of 2006, on average seven passengers on a typical Lufthansa or Iberia flight lost their bags. Six travellers suffered the same fate with Luxair and Austrian Airlines; five with British Airways and Air France. According to AEA, Aeroflot loses around 0,3% of luggage in its flights.

Baggage problems are not limited to Europe. In the US airlines lost on average 10,000 bags a day last year -- the most since 1990. And the situation is supposed to worsen in summer when flight schedules are hectic and airports are crowded.

According to airlines estimates fortunately 85% of all mislaid bags are returned to customers within 48 hours and only 2% are irretrievably lost. But what one should do coming to a foreign country and suddenly without a t-shirt to change for 48 hours? First of all -- don't panic. If you have already come to the airline or Lost and Found desk and the missing has already been confirmed, the company will definitely supply you with a 'survival' overnight kit, which includes toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, shower gel, shampoo, hairbrush and other essentials. In some cases for example if one has a business meeting and the suit is missing with the bag, one can be paid a reasonable amount of money to buy clothes. But airlines pay unwillingly, so sometimes you'll have to fight for your rights. Just demonstrate you know the matter - and your chances to get delay compensation will grow.

In Moscow airports Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo your missing luggage will be traced with an international automatic system World Tracer, that allows to find it without any delay. And after the suitcase is found it will be delivered to the address a passenger gave to the Lost and Found service. It's a progress, considering that a couple of years ago one would have to return to the airport to collect the luggage.

Below are the hot-lines in Moscow airports, you can call if your luggage is lost:

    Sheremetyevo-1: (495) 578-2350.
    Sheremetyevo-2: (495) 578-1133.
    Domodedovo: (495) 504-02-58.
    Vnukovo: (495) 436-2732.

But what if you wait 2 days and then 2 days more and your belongings are still not found? When does a missing bag become a lost bag? Different airlines have different rules, but most of them, including Aeroflot, wait for 3 weeks until your bag is deemed lost. When the airline finally admits the ugly truth a passenger can apply for a compensation. Its amount depends on what you had in suitcases and on their weight. Still you can't claim on everything that was in your bag. You'll have to make an itemised list from which the airline chooses for which items it is supposed to pay. Again, different airlines may have slightly different lists, but in general, they will usually refuse liability for the loss, delay, or damage to antiques and works of art, documents, computers and electronic equipment, jewellery, keys, medication, money and some other things. And be careful, if accepting any money from the airline, to ensure that you don't have to sign an indemnity waiver which says that, in accepting the money offered, you agree that this is a full and fair settlement and won't seek to get more money later.

Sadly, there's nothing you can do to stop the airlines from losing your baggage. But you can help them find it again if it does get lost, and there are a couple of minor things you can do to help reduce the chance of your bags going astray. Take anything that might confuse automatic bag scanning machines off the bag. If you have bits of old luggage labels still on your bags anywhere, be sure to remove them. When checking your bags in, carefully watch to make sure that each bag is properly tagged with its bag tag, and check that you get your copies of the tags, and that they correctly show your destination and flight. Try not to check in late for a flight, and try and make sure you don't have very tight connections if you're changing planes on your journey. Make your bag as distinctive as possible. Use MyTag sticker. Check that whatever address information you have on it is correct.

Never put anything in checked luggage that you can't survive without or replace. This means making sure you have an adequate supply of medications in your carry-on, plus things like trip vouchers, ID and credit cards, computer and its power supply, both cell phone and its charger.

Nastya Makryashina


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