What to do when your luggage is lost or missing including first steps to take

There's nothing like lost luggage to ruin a journey.

If you're arriving on holiday, it's stressful not to have your belongings. If you're heading home, it can spoil the end to a great holiday.

But the good news is that just because your bag hasn't made it with you to your destination, that doesn't mean that possessions are gone forever.

Airlines typically have a way of tracking bags (they are tagged at check-in after all) and in most cases bags tend to be delayed rather than lost forever.

That moment your bag doesn't appear on the carousel is no fun, but there are steps you can take to try and get your bag back as soon as possible.

Check out our top tips below…

What to do first

Head to the baggage claims office which is in the hall with the carousels – and do so immediately.

Most airlines require that you file forms for lost luggage within days of your flight – plus the quicker you do it, the better your chances of your bag being found if it's been re-routed by accident.

At the baggage claim you'll be asked to fill out a form with your details such as your address at your destination and what your bag looks like.

Be as descriptive of the bag as you can – any distinguishing features, the tags and some of the contents.

When you checked in the bag they will have given you a tag with the ID number so make sure to include this as it could be a vital tool in locating your luggage.

Make sure to get a copy of the form just in case you need to prove you filed the request to the airline, or should you need it for your travel insurance in case you end up making a claim.

Ask for the name of the person who helped you and get a follow up phone number you can call for updates on your bag.

What to do if you're abroad

Once you've filed the claim for your lost bag, there's not much else to do than play the waiting game.

Check in at your hotel and then if you need them, you can buy some of the bare essentials you need – make sure to keep receipts for these as you might be able to claim compensation from the airline.

What happens if they find your bag

Success – your bag has been found! In most cases the airline will arrange for it to be delivered to the address you noted on your forms, whether this is your home address or a hotel address.

If you have to collect delayed luggage yourself, you may be able to claim compensation from the airline for the travel costs.

Am I entitled to compensation?

You're legally entitled to claim compensation from the airline if your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged.

The rules are slightly different for cabin baggage as this depends on whether it's the airline's fault.

Usually you'll be able to claim compensation for the bare essentials you need if your bags are delayed (such as toiletries and underwear), and part of the cost of replacing or repairing lost luggage.

You can find out more about your rights on the Citizens Advice Bureau website .

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