Stolen Luggage

Stolen Luggage

One of our business associates has shared this article with us that he wrote.  While this is NOT the norm and thousands of suitcases arrive safely each day, it is good to know the other side of what can happen.  This is a great case  FOR using Disney’s Magical Express at Disney World.  Disney tracks your bag with the yellow luggage tag that you adhere to the handle.  It does NOT get put out onto a baggage claim belt for others to see and steal.  Disney handles your luggage carefully behind-the-scenes so they can take it directly to your resort room for you.

What to do if thieves steal your Luggage!

By Dave L.

Last year my fiancée and I went to Spring Training in Jupiter Florida flying into West Palm Beach Airport on an airline that says “our bags fly free!”   What I didn’t  realize was our bags kept flying free!   I know most of us have no idea what will occur next.   I’ve been on flights dozens of times and nothing has ever happened.   I just couldn’t imagine my bags being misplaced or stolen.    Please read on because this article will make a difference if this ever happens to you.  It will also turn a bad situation into a minor inconvenience instead of ruining your vacation and costing your time and money.   This article may save you hundreds of dollars and headaches!   Believe me when I say the airline/s probably don’t put your inconvenience at the top of their list.  What I learned from this experience will change everything from who I fly with, how I pay for my ticket, how I will handle inconvenience and theft of my baggage. Most of all what I do before I even think about purchasing a ticket and how I pack my bag!  Keep in mind I learned from airline employees who told me they heard stories about employees were stealing bags, disgruntled employees throwing bags away, groups of thieves were targeting certain airports picking up bags as they came off the carousel  and if someone challenged them saying they got the wrong bag and moving on, and people making a living off stolen luggage.  Just Google this and you will be surprised at the number of stories.  More surprising is the lack of airport security at the point of “baggage claim!”

When we landed at West Palm Beach we sat in seats near the wing of the plane and watched as baggage handlers unloaded our bags.  Three bags total;  a golf bag with distinctive black and silver stripes, a Travel Pro suitcase with a bright blue “Velcro aftermarket handle cover” and a large gray bag with a bright “orange Velcro” aftermarket handle cover.  As we watched the baggage handlers unload the bags and stack them my fiancée was more worried about her bag on the bottom of the pile of suitcases and the damage it may do to:  jewelry, electronics, and hair dryer/curling iron…etc…

When we arrived at the baggage claim the carousel was turning and people had already retrieved their bag/s.  I thought, wow this is efficient! I picked up my golf clubs on the second or third turn around the carousel but our suitcases never appeared!   When the carousel stopped our suitcases were nowhere to be found.  We then went to the XXXX   baggage claim center.  The lady there didn’t really seem concerned and assured us we would probably get our bags the next day.   I being honest told her the golf clubs were claimed by me and that wasn’t an issue.   Having said that I asked her about the surveillance cameras in case someone stole our luggage.  Much to my surprise “THERE ARE NO SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS IN THE BAG CLAIM AREA!”   Think about this……we go through several security check points and are screened over and over.  Yet someone can come in the basement of the airport and steal from you, me, the airlines without a thought!

After making out our lost/misplaced baggage report the lady at the counter told us they would allow us $25 a person inconvenience fees per day but we would need receipts.  Receipts that proved we bought toiletries, underwear, socks, t-shirts, pants, etc.    Really, how far does $25 go?  By the way do you know the airlines deducts the $25 per day daily claim from their “Maximum payout” if you luggage is never discovered!  One St Louis Cardinal baseball jersey is approximately $100.   Ok so I’m only allowed to wear a jersey and no underwear…you have to set priorities!

What I would later learn I will share with you so you won’t be so miserable.   First and foremost check out the credit card companies who you use to purchase your airline ticket with.  Did you know some of them allow up to $1,000 a day in inconvenience “purchases” if your luggage is lost.   Then ask them how many days they will allow the inconvenience “purchases.”     If you luggage is misplaced you can immediately go and purchase replacement clothing.    Here is another tip:   check with the airline you  intend to fly.   I learned jewelry  cameras, prescription eyeglasses, and my luggage (expensive bag)  is not covered.  I’m sure  currency and other items are not covered.    Usually what is covered is clothing,  and toiletries, period!   So carry a carry on bag with your valuables because if it is in your possession it won’t be lost.   Add to your one carry on a change of night clothes and cosmetics/medications/toiletries.

Here is what I learned about checked luggage.   When I was at the lost luggage line the lady behind the counter asked me,  “did you take a picture of your articles in the bag before your closed it.”  I told her I thought that when you said my bags fly free… they would fly with me!      Here is the lesson from this discussion.  First keep receipts of all your clothing purchases in case you fly then you have a back up copy of value.  Second, take a picture of those clothes you put in checked baggage.   Even if you have all that information expect about 1/3 to ¼ of the value you claim.  They will pay the claim based on a lump sum so you never know how they value what you put in your bag.  A good rule of thumb, put used clothing in your checked bag, never put new clothing in your checked bag!     Also any clothing that is one of a kind (like a world series jersey) the airline will not pay for one of a kind item.  Never pack jewelry, electronics (cameras, phone charges etc), cash, and don’t use an expensive suitcase.

Here is a GREAT TIP!   Purchase your ticket with the Credit Card Company that gives you the most for inconvenience and replacement.  You may have to shop around but get a good credit card company that will take care of you.  Had I called my credit card company that I purchased the ticket with they would have allowed me $600 for inconvenience.  I would have not had a $25 dollar limit.   Ask your airline what their lost baggage policy is?  Once you know that factor pack accordingly and carry on a full bag of your most valuable and non replaceable items.

Last if not least really get upset with the airlines.  I later learned that my ticket agent should have given me a free bag of toiletries and a shirt/short combo to sleep in.  So lets make a short recap of tips:

Purchase airline tickets with a credit card company that covers lost items immediately!

Second pack only items that are covered by theft.

Third take pictures of clothing and keep clothing receipts so you can claim your lost items ( expect about 1/3 of what you paid for it).

Fourth IMMEDIATELY  make a report of the theft and demand the airlines give you a temporary bag.

Fifth race to the baggage claim (at least one person if more than one of you are travelling).  This prevents thieves grabbing your suitcase and running out the door before you arrive.

Sixth put a distinctive mark on your bag and don’t buy name brand luggage that can be sold at flea markets or pawn shops.  Mark the tags on your clothing.

Seventh  Call your credit card company before you fly and see how much money  is allowed immediately if your luggage is lost.  That allows you to go out and purchase as much replacement clothing as possible.

Eight  Pack as much used and cheaper clothing into your checked bag.   Wear good clothes including shoes on the plane and put easy to replace items in your checked bag.