What does your airline do to recover lost luggage?

The last time I saw the white corrugated cardboard box with brittle adhesive glued on it was at the US Airways check-in counter in Mexico City. My wife and I had just arrived from Acapulco with Mexican Airways and had changed our company to US Airways to complete our Seattle trip through Phoenix. After landing in Phoenix, we headed back to pick up the luggage controlled carousel. However, to our chagrin, there was no sign of the tax-free white box. The airport security-friendly woman mentioned that there is an occasional delay after luggage is checked before being allowed to load on the next flight. She assured us that our box should be on our plane to Seattle.

After our flight to Seattle arrived, we waited as the last luggage that was surrounded by the carousel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official informed us that this was the last piece of luggage from our flight. Sadly, our white cardboard box had not arrived. The lady directed us to the Airways Baggage Claims office which was strangely and easily located near the carousel. My wife and I informed the representative about our lost box and filled out a request form.

Upon arriving home, we received a daily call for the first week from the Central Luggage Office in Phoenix, Arizona, keeping us apprised of the progress in their tracking efforts to find our lost box. We were advised to fill out the damaged or lost property form we had received in Seattle and mailed to them.

Ten days after the form was sent, I phoned the Phoenix Central Luggage Office and spoke with a luggage specialist there. They had not yet received the form but were called the next day to confirm that they had received it. There was still no news of our lost box, however the tracks for it were still active.

Mike Adams, Luggage Specialist, at the time, had worked for US Airways for more than a year and his job required calls to clients about their lost or damaged luggage claims, codifying and determining misrepresentation of claims . He had recently completed training for a secondary tracking program. I wanted to get some answers about the steps they take to find lost luggage.

“Once the claim is filed,” Adams said, “we use the World Tracer System (used by over 300 member airlines) to search the bag with the name, address, bag type and content to see if there are any matches on hand. If there is a match and the bag is lowered in the terminal, two people open the bag and insert the contents of the bag into the system.All undeclared luggage is held for five days and then shipped to Charlotte, North Carolina. If the luggage is not there, then a secondary trace is made that checks with the airlines and other links to see if the lost luggage is shipped elsewhere.

How long will they continue to reclaim some of the lost luggage? Mike says the minimum of four weeks, unless they're playing catch due to the storms, and then lasts longer.

Do luggage or boxes steal luggage holders or other employees? "Yes," Adams admits. "There are some thefts in the industry. Theft is usually committed by members of the Transportation Security Administration." As a result, airlines will put in place harsh operations to find the culprits or culprits and solve the problem. Adams found that in our case, the shipping box from the white cardboard was a red flag. Thieves especially target those items. "To solve that problem in the future," Mike advised, "and remove the temptation, just buy a cheap suitcase and put alcohol in it." That was simple and sound advice that would save us a lot of headaches.

If the box is not found, how will the request be resolved? Mike said a letter with a check on the amount of our lost alcohol would probably be sent to us. He had the right half. We received the letter from US Airways, but instead of a check, we received two $ 50.00 travel vouchers that were valid for one year from the date of issue.

From any experience, whether good or bad, there is something to learn. First, my wife and I have decided that we will only buy items that we can safely pack in our luggage. Second, we will mark our bags with a unique identifier, such as color strips, tape or labels that come out of most luggage. Third, we will put names and address somewhere in the inside of the suitcase or bag to make luggage specialists like Mike Adams & # 39; much easier work on reuniting lost luggage with their owners.

Following these three steps may not guarantee that you will be reunited with the carousel bags, but they will certainly improve your chances. Happy Journey!