Everything You Need to Know About Lost Baggage at Airport

Did you come across any odd situation like not being able to find your check-in baggage on arrival at the destination airport? Air travelers, hoping to collect their baggage and reach home at the earliest, start looking at the conveyor belt and when not seen easily start watching carefully at all the belt items. They end up seemingly disappointed when their baggage is not shown up. They even wait patiently till the carousel conveyor comes to a complete halt, totally engulfed with a feeling of lost baggage. 

What Should You Do in Case of Lost Baggage

When you don’t find your check-in luggage at the belt conveyor, check at the other belts as well. If it is still not found you need not panic. Report it at Baggage Service Office, at your airport of arrival.

From the Airlines’s point of view, such an event is a case of mishandling or an irregularity. They ask you to file Property Irregularity Report (PIR) for further action at their end.

The baggage is declared ‘lost’ only when it is untraceable even after 21 days.

What is a PIR

PIR is a Property Irregularity Report which is issued by concerned airlines for any mishandling of baggage. Other than lost pieces of baggage, it includes damaged or stolen baggage. The minor issues of scratches, missing straps, zipper damage, dents, soiling, or broken handles are not covered in PIR.

It had happened with me at Dehradun Airport in the early morning hours on 2nd August’21, but then an entire lot of baggage had not reached. The airport authorities announced that the lot has got ‘delayed’ at Delhi and assured us of getting it in another 5-6 hours.

In any case, the following steps are required to be taken:

  1. File PIR in the baggage claim area and get your baggage claim number. 

The PIR contains the following details which are to be filled, such as:

  • Number of bags reported missing
  • The contents of the bags (At least 3 distinctive items)
  • Baggage Tag Numbers
  • Brand Information/ Outside Identification
  • Two different  person’s contact number
  • Air Ticket Number

They will hand over one signed copy of PIR to you. 

2. Don’t forget to take their SPOC’s contact number, for enquiring over the phone.

3. After you’ve left the airport, you can track your baggage from the airline website with the baggage claim number.

4. You can purchase emergency items for immediate needs and claim for reimbursement provided you have not moved to your given address or a place of convenience. Otherwise, they will not consider it an emergency.

Precautions to be Taken to Avoid Lost Baggage Situation

  1. Try to book a direct flight to avoid such unpleasant situation and related troubles.
  2. If you get time at your last transit airport, ask at the baggage handling section of your airlines, for baggage loading confirmation. Give them details of baggage tag number, you had received during check-in.
  3. Keep a list of items while packing your bag. If new or costly, try to keep bills in your cabin baggage.
  4. A packing video, or at least one outside and one inside pic of a packed bag will certainly help you in case of a final claim.
  5. Place a personally identifiable color ribbon, or a piece of neon duct tape in your bag handle for an easy identification.
  6. Tag your name and cell number at your bag, in case the color ribbon gets detached and another passenger takes your bag by fortuitous.
  7. Keep a set of essential items in your cabin baggage
  8. Since airlines don’t entertain the minor issues, we have to be extra careful in protecting our luggage.
  9. Keep the cash, jewelry, negotiable papers, securities, passports, or items of high value with you in your hand bag or cabin baggage.
  10. In case you had put these high value items in your lost baggage, covered under Conditions of Contract /Carriage (CoC), you need to give details of every item as bag contents.
  11. If case of any conflict between the actual contents and CoC, the contents will prevail and take precedence, as per air carrier rules.

What to do in Case of Actually Lost Baggage

  1. The likelihood of actually lost baggages is about 1% or less with increasing technology.
  2. Normally lost baggage is delivered within 1 or 2 days, but, if it is taking too long, you have to be mentally prepared for it. 
  3. In case of actually lost baggage, you will have to file a fresh claim, and in that you have to mention every detail of your packed items to claim.
  4. Travel insurance taken during booking helps in covering your losses to a great extent.

Possible Reasons for a Lost Baggage

  1. The Airlines take all precautions to reduce the number of such cases, but it may happen as they give priority to passengers’ movement over luggage, to avoid flight delay.
  2. If your baggage is very large, they may keep it separate for later loading, following their certain norms. There become chances of your baggage being left.

In our case, the airline was at fault. It was a setback for many passengers who had to move to far-reaching places such as Badrinath and were not in a position to wait for the baggage to arrive. Thus they filed their PIR and left.

We were lucky to go locally to Rishikesh. We were supposed to get our luggage by 3 pm on the same day.

It did not happen.

We kept waiting and contacting the SPOC. They were nice to respond.

At about 6 pm we were informed by airport authorities that our luggage has arrived, and it is out for distribution.

We had received the said lost baggage at our given address at 9 pm after confirming our identities.


For practical reasons, the case of lost baggage can happen with anybody any day, though the chances are very remote. The point is, we should not panic and try to understand the situation. We should have taken the minimum precautions and followed the airport guidelines. The airlines take the responsibility of delivering your lost baggage at your ultimate address, even if you have moved miles away from your arrival airport. The lost baggage will eventually return to you. You just have faith in their system. Take it as delayed, not lost, till the end.

Happy Traveling.

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