How To Find Your Lost Luggage When the Airline Won’t

There you are, standing at the baggage carousel, watching the few remaining bags circle by … again. How many roundtrips have they taken now? 10? 20? You’ve lost count … and hope.

Tired, hungry, depressed, you trudge over to the Lost Luggage office.

“Fill out this form, we’ll give you a call when it turns up” – you’ve heard that line before.

Finally home, or in your hotel room, somewhat refreshed by sleep and a meal you dutifully call the number they gave you the day before. Your bag hasn’t been recovered yet, they tell you. Might be in Denver. Might be in Delhi. Please accept this small compensation for your loss, or call again tomorrow.

And the day after that … and the day after that.

Don’t let this happen to you, call Luggage Locators.

Ok, don’t actually try to call them, because they don’t exist. But if they did, their first hire should be varshapry, who went to extraordinary lengths recently to find a piece of luggage lost on a British Airways itinerary that included a flight on American Airlines – and discovered some good tips along the way:

1. The Airline would rather pay you than look for your bag, don’t know the logic behind that. Possibly just passing the buck.


2. You can’t rely on the airline to find the bag, you have to find it yourself


3. For extended delays, assume the bag tag has come off and force the airline to limit the search to the day of travel and the next day through each of your transit airport


4. Ask them to look at the content details of ALL the bags shortlisted above, not just those which their baggage matching system shows a high % match.


5. If you have travelled by multiple airlines in your journey, call them up yourself. Even though they claim to be coordinating the search with each other, in reality they are not talking to each other at all.


6. Make sure the bag tag is put in such a way that it will not come off even on moderate rough handling by the baggage handling staff. This was the problem in my case, with the tag put across 4 cloth handles bundled together, if anyone picks the bag by just 1 or 2 handles the tag was sure to come off. I realized it only after the bag went missing.


7. Put a copy of your itinerary and contact details on the outside and inside the bag.


8. Don’t file a claim for ‘lost’ bag (Do file one for ‘missing bag’ at the airport itself), because then the airline has all the right to stop looking for the bag, pay you a paltry sum and close the case.


9. Don’t lose hope and patience!

Of course, there is a story that lead to these findings, which he shares in all of its glorious and ultimately triumphant detail. And his story has motivated at least one other traveler to request his help retrieving their own lost bag.

One of the unfortunate parts of this story is that, though varshapry eventually did find his bag – no thanks to most of the airline personnel he dealt with, some valuables were missing from within. Based on this information, EarthlingOnline has reached a couple of troubling conclusions of his own:

1. Looks like BA may have outsourced its baggage call centre services to someone rejected by Ryanair for its unacceptable (even for Ryanair) customer service attitude.


2. If stuff went missing, perhaps some of the parties involved wanted you to not locate the bag?

What are your best tips for tracking down lost luggage and/or preventing it from becoming lost in the first place? And what is your experience with the airlines’ ability to find and return lost luggage. Was varshapry’s experience the norm, or the exception to the rule?

Read the thread in its entirety: Get back your lost bag from the brink of auction by airline!

Image: “Lost & Found @ Milan LIN’ by Luigi Rosa. CC BY-SA 2.0.


  1. I’m surprised there are not more GPS equipped smart bag tags. Its expensive but say an iPhone with Find my iPhone running may be a good bet or prototype of what I am talking about. It may be a little less expensive to use a tablet as they can be a bit less to add to your plan.
    I’m just surprised there are not third party GPS & cellular/Wi-Fi equipped tags for tracking bags.
    I also just ordered IOTA from Kickstarter, check it out, it is a tag.

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