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Finally, Refunds For Delayed Checked Bags!

Thanks to a recent FAA ruling, travelers will be refunded if their checked baggages are delayed more than 12 hours or 15 hours internationally. It is a $25 rebate for the first bag and $50 for two delayed bags.  Prior to this ruling, Delta Air Lines was the only airline offering refunds for delayed bags.  Now all airlines are required to follow this ruling and set up procedures.

Sounds like good news, right?  Good news is the refund itself.  The bad news is that the refund is administered in the form of an electronic travel voucher—not cash!  Though not convenient for the traveler, it also creates a headache for the companies who booked the travel.  The refund will not be credited back to the credit card, but to be used for future travel in the form of this travel voucher. This further complicates billing and travel budgets.  The deadline for the airlines to set up these refund procedures ends in September 2017, so there is wiggle room for this system to change.

Tips to smoothly receive your refund for delayed checked bags:

According to Yahoo! Finance, while your bags are delayed, consider the following to get reimbursed for expenses:

  • Before you leave the airport, file a complaint for your missing bags. Why? Some airlines will not provide assistance of any kind until or without a formal complaint.  Some airlines allow a complaint by phone within 24 hours.  My experience has always been, “Don’t leave home without it,” …meaning hang at the airport and file the complaint so you can get your bag returned ASAP!
  • Keep all documentation. (in a safe and convenient place). Starting with your boarding pass, baggage claim ticket, plus all receipts for any expenses.  At some point, you will likely need them.
  • No shopping spree! Resist the urge to buy replacement clothes or items. Don’t expect the airlines to reimburse you completely for items that may be lost or delayed. Consider carrying on items you can’t be without, such as a tux if you are traveling to a wedding or special handouts for an important meeting (e.g. Christopherson’s signature chocolates). Though they are essential for you, the airlines probably wont pay to replace these items.
  • Check your credit card’s baggage coverage. In the case of business, know what your company credit card provides. This should be in your travel policy guidelines. There are different rules for each credit card.  As an example, Chase Sapphire Card will reimburse for essential purchases up to $100 a day for five days. Delta is the only airline with details as to what they offer as compensation:  $50 a day for the first five days a bag is delayed as long as you provide receipts.
  • Try to relax. Delayed or lost baggage is definitely a major hassle but most bags are found within 48 hours.  Personally, I dislike carry-on bags (weight, bad rotator cuff, etc.) so I usually have essentials in a small case besides a checked bag.

Christopherson Business Travel is a corporate travel management company with more than 60 years of experience assisting customers. Learn more about our philosophy or talk to us about how to start a corporate travel policy.

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Do You Know What Happens to Lost Luggage?

lost luggage
99.5% of all checked bags are picked up. But what about the remaining 0.5%?

Where does your luggage go when an airline loses it? You might think it simply disappears into a black hole–somewhere akin to the mysterious void where missing socks in the dryer end up–but the truth, you may find, is much more strange.

Lost bags and all of their contents eventually find their way to a retail store/warehouse in Scottsboro, Alabama, called the Unclaimed Baggage Center—a facility so large it’s bigger than a city block. In fact, it is one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions hosting more than one million visitors each year from every state and more than 40 foreign countries. It is the only lost luggage store in the United States. There’s even a museum to house the Center’s most unique finds.

Ninety-nine and a half percent of domestic airlines’ checked bags are picked up at the baggage carousel. The airlines conduct an extensive three-month tracing process with the remaining 0.5% of unclaimed bags in an effort to reunite them with their owners. It is only after claims are paid on these remaining lost bags that the airlines sell them to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.

So what can you find there? The short answer: everything. The store stocks more than 7,000 new items daily. And if you’re imagining a cluttered store full of worn clothing and junk, think again. The staff sorts out only the best items for the retail floor. All of the clothing is professionally cleaned and laundered, which is why they also boast the largest dry cleaning facility in the state, laundering approximately 50,000 items each month. Fine jewelry is cleaned and appraised, and all electronic items have their memories cleared of personal data and are tested to make sure they work. Prices are comparable to what you’d find at a thrift store, often coming in less expensive than market value.

By now you may be wondering if you might find your long-lost luggage at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. It’s certainly possible, but even if you find it, it’s not yours anymore. And you’ll have to buy it back.

Friendly reminder: Always label your luggage in multiple areas.