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Losing luggage....

Has anyone had an airline lose their luggage permanently? As in, never turned up?
Just wondering.

Posted by
2092 posts

Yes! After decades of moving around the world and never losing anything, my husband lost a suitcase on a business trip between Sacramento and LA! Never saw it again.

Posted by
9762 posts

Nope. Never.

I am 50 and have lived at least two flights away from “home” for the last (nearly) 30 years, half of it overseas.

Posted by
6603 posts

American Airlines, Dulles to LAX, way back in 1968. I know the bag was stolen because checks with my forged signature were presented for payment. (Never mind my stupidity packing a checkbook in a checked bag, hey I was very young.) I boycotted AA until enough decades had passed that I figured whoever dropped the ball was dead or retired. But that's the only time. I can't remember a bag being even delayed since then.

Posted by
5631 posts

Never. My luggage has been temporarily lost 5 times over the last 25 years. One time the luggage turned up a day late with my hairdryer missing, but that is it.

Posted by
11348 posts

A friend’s luggage was stolen off the carousel at EWR. I wonder why they stopped checking luggage receipts before letting you leave with a bag? It always used to be done in NY area airports..

Posted by
200 posts

Bags misplaced in Sicily for a week. (I think it was a union strike)
items of little value taken from suitcase in EWR. Delta told me they were surprised.

Posted by
11365 posts

One time the luggage turned up a day late with my hairdryer missing, but that is it.

Your most valuable possession was a hairdryer?

Posted by
19137 posts

You might never have lost your luggage, but someone certainly has. Here is the website of the store in Alabama where they resell "lost" bags (and their contents). Most of it comes from airline luggage that could not be reunited with its owners. Somewhere is says they get over 7,000 items every day!

I've never lost luggage, but I nearly did. In 1989 I was on a business trip to Europe to visit medical clinics. I was supposed to fly from Frankfurt to Paris. At first, our travel agent here in Denver said there were no flights available; Lufthansa and Air France were the only airlines that could carry passengers on that route, and they were both booked. Then she said there was a place for me on Avianca. Apparently when both Lufthansa and Air France were booked, other airlines are allowed to carry passengers on that route. Avianca is the national airline of Columbia (So. America). I don't even think it was a scheduled flight. It was a 747 carrying Columbian military personell back from training in Germany and France.

At that time I checked luggage; this time in particular because I need suits and business shirts for my visits. When we landed I went to the luggage room to get my luggage. After a while, it had not arrived. With me in the luggage room were two Japanese businessmen and a German couple. Fortunately, the Germans spoke French; the French baggage handlers did not speak English. Finally, the Germans mentioned to the luggage handlers that we had bags on the plane, and they went out and got them. Apparently, since the plane did not normally carry passengers to Paris, the handlers had not expected there to be bags, and no one had told them there were bags to be taken off. Had it not been for the German couple, my bags would have gone to So, America, and I doubt that anyone there would have bothered to return them to Europe. Even if my bags had been returned from Columbia, It would have been difficult for them to catch up to me; for the next eleven nights, I was in a different city, in four different countries, each stop for one night, and my schedule was changed by our European office after the Paris visit.

That is why today I am so fanatical about carry-on only.

Posted by
679 posts

Yes, it was January, about 25 years ago flying from Miami to Panama. Never found.

Posted by
1420 posts

Geepers, lee, it has been years since I was sucked into that website, may I recommend the "unusual finds" section?

Never permanently lost, 20 years ago in a homebound flight change my bag must have fallen off the conveyor belt or tram as it was being loaded on my st Louis bound flight in a rainstorm, it was found in the daylight and returned to me intact but full of rainwater, they gave me some vouchers for dry cleaning and like 200$... I think I came out ahead on that.

A couple of years ago somehow my computer coded bag did not make it to HRL. (Harlingen Texas) but instead went to HNL. Honolulu. Boggles the imagination. They confessed what happened while it was somewhere over Colorado.... took awhile for it to land and then get on another Texas bound flight. . I even had purchased travel insurance but somehow 30 hours without the bag was not sufficient for a payout. sigh

Posted by
11348 posts

The friends whose luggage was stolen from the carousel cannot get to baggage quickly from their plane. Now, they hire a driver and have him get their luggage off the carousel before they can get there.

Posted by
19137 posts

it is likely where many bags get "lost" - not in transit, but in the
baggage claim.

Some years ago, I answered a request on this forum from someone who needed directions to get from the Basel, Switzerland, airport (Europort), which is actually in France, to the German Rail Station (Basel Bad Bhf) in Basel.

At the time (maybe still), if you went through Swiss Immigration, not Schengen immigration, at the airport, the way to get from the Europort to downtown Basel (Basel SBB Bhf) was to go by special bus through a fenced in corridor from the airport to the Swiss border, then by regular streets to the Swiss Bahnhof. On the way you passed a tram station where you could get off the bus and take the tram over to Basel Bad Bhf.

So I carefully described the route to them, including a map of the Europort, the bus number, fares, and Google street view pictures of the transfer location.

When they got back they told me what had happened. They had followed my direction until they got to the transfer point. There they discovered that the black bags they had picked up at the carousel were not theirs, so they took a taxi back to the airport, going I'm sure through French immigration at the border, returned the wrong bags, got theirs, then took a taxi to the Basel Bad Bhf. Sigh.

So yes, because a lot of bags look alike, I'm sure many bags are lost due to being mistakenly picked off the carousel.

A good reason to always put some identification inside your bag.

Posted by
5021 posts

Now, they hire a driver and have him get their luggage off the
carousel before they can get there.
Good idea, as long as you don't have to deal with Customs.

Posted by
5697 posts

Not lost, but I flew SFO-O'Hare-Detroit once when my bag took a joytrip to Fargo. Only a problem since I had a job interview at 8 a.m.
Delivered at midnight after much worrying. After that, I always carry cosmetics, a spare shirt and underwear in my under-seat item.

Other luggage delays have been on the way home, where I have ample wardrobe choices if the bag doesn't show up for days.

Posted by
2028 posts

No, never lost any luggage. Delayed and later delivered but never lost. I still remember the Samaritan who drove from Orlando back to Miami with dad’s suitcase when he realized he’d taken the wrong one. Safe travels to all.

Posted by
1259 posts

Realizing anecdotes, even tens of thousands of them, are no substitute for verifiable data, I have had bags delayed a few hours by being erroneously transferred to another flight and mistakenly picked up by other travelers (took 36 hours to retrieve) but I have never lost a bag forever. I have friends and family who have had such experiences. While the following statement is tedious (sorry), this is one of the reasons I always go carry-on-only. The other reason is one bag is all the stuff I really need.

Posted by
19137 posts

Now, they hire a driver and have him get their luggage off the
carousel before they can get there.

Only once have I ever had luggage get to the carousel before I did. And that was because it came in on an earlier flight.

Well, it wasn't actually mine (I've done carry-on only for 20 years). That time, about 2 years ago, it was my partner's bag. We were flying Southwest from San Diego to San Jose. My partner is mobility challenged and gets wheelchair assistance from check in to the gate, so we arrived extra early to make sure there was sufficient time. Everything went smoothly, and we got to the gate in time for a leisurely lunch before boarding. When we got to San Jose, the wheelchair attendant took us to the carousel, where the bags were just starting to come out. We watched as bag after bag, none her's, loaded onto the carousel. Finally, the bags stopped coming out and most had been picked up. There were just a few bags that hadn't been picked up going around the carousel, but not her's. Finally the attendant, on a hunch, went over to the lost luggage office, and there was her bag sitting in the room. Seems Southwest had hourly flights from San Diego to San Jose, and, since we got to the airport more than an hour early, her bag went on an earlier flight. When it wasn't picked up from the carousel after that flight arrived, it was taken to the lost luggage office.

Next time someone tells you that a plane won't take off with your bag unless you are on it, don't believe them.

Posted by
4171 posts

I've never had any bags delayed or lost, largely because I only check one when absolutely forced to do so.

However, on a trip many years ago from Seattle to Montreal via Vancouver BC, my husband's looks-like-every-other-black-duffle was picked up by someone heading West, like to China. At that time, the bags were placed in a group for passengers to pick up after passing through passport control.

We immediately filed a claim and got on our flight to Montreal. We were there for 10 nights. All he had in his carry-on was underwear, T-shirts and some reading material--not even his meds!

So we had to shop for clothes and find a pharmacist who would give him enough pills for the time we were there. It's a good thing he only took one medication way back then.

I called about his bag every day. By the time we flew home, it still had not been found. The airline people were neither helpful nor concerned about our predicament.

We were home for over a week before the bag was delivered to our house. We had no idea it was coming. We found it on our front porch when we got home from work. The dogs must've been asleep somewhere else on the property. Fortunately, they didn't harm the bag and nothing was taken from it during its adventure to the Far East.

My husband learned a big lesson about paying attention to me when it comes to travel. He hates it when I'm right! 🤣

Posted by
998 posts

YES on a trip to Ireland/England a few years ago. Mechanical problems on our AA flight from Chicago to Dublin had us re-route through London on a BA flight. However, it was the weekend of the infamous BT IT meltdown and it was chaos at Heathrow. A long story, but I finally got my luggage on the same day I arrived back home in Missouri. My friend's luggage was never found. These are my lost luggage tips.

  1. Carry-on luggage if you can, if not, at least take one extra outfit in a carry-on bag.
  2. keep your airline luggage tags in a safe place - you will need the codes.
  3. Know that if you have entered another country, you will have to fill out online customs paperwork before they will release your luggage.
  4. you can label your luggage with your name and address, phone number, etc - and nobody important seems to read it.
  5. Know what clothing you packed. Keep receipts and even take photos of everything you pack. This will help with claims (and also help you remember what you packed). When estimating your losses, any item worth over $150.00 you will need to have a receipt. Easy if you paid for it by CC.
  6. Keep receipts of all new clothing you have to purchase on the trip.
  7. If your luggage does not show up within a week or two, you will eventually be assigned an airline caseworker. They will check certain "centers' where luggage goes to before it gets sold on.
  8. Once your claim is made - ask for an extra e-voucher for all your hassle. (we got an extra $150.00 in travel vouchers).
  9. Claim through both the airline and insurance ( although there are some double-dipping rules)
  10. Be careful not to have your luggage problem become the focus of conversation each day. It will just make you mad and other people unhappy. Enjoy your vacation.


Posted by
329 posts

While we usually carry on for this exact reason, when we go to Mexico for several weeks we take and check larger luggage. On one Mexican trip, my husband’s suitcase didn’t arrive with us. We often go to Mazatlan, and our friend’s friend was the Alaska Airlines local manager, the only female airline manager in Mexico at that time. We became increasingly worried because, supposedly, your chance of recovering your luggage goes down 20% each day that it’s missing. Each morning, Rosa would call me and say, “Catalina, I will leave no stone unturned!” Some people assumed that the problem was in Mexico, but five (!) days later, she located the bag, stripped of all ID and information inside and out, in a faaar corner of LAX...she said it was intentional, and was on its way out the door. It was only ID’d because we knew what was packed towards the top. Now, if we do check bags, we divide our clothing between two bags, along with carryons for a day or two if necessary. Pretty sad way to start your vacation having to shop for undies and swim trunks!

Posted by
5631 posts

Your most valuable possession was a hairdryer?

I never check items of value and I always have a change of clothes in my carry-on. It was a business trip from London to Cairo wih a change of planes in Rome. The only items in my checked bag were clothes, toiletries, and the hairdryer. My bag arrived a day later and was delivered to the hotel but there was no hairdryer. It seemed an odd thing for someone to take.

Posted by
1662 posts

Never had luggage lost or delayed.

When I do check a bag, no valuables go into it.

I also wrap brightly colored duct tape around my luggage.

When I went to retrieve my luggage, I could see it from a long way away - that bright orange duct tape! I put strips on the base; around the wheelbase; around the handles; around the length of the luggage.

In case the luggage needs to be inspected, I don't wrap it around the width.

So far, no issues.

Posted by
3188 posts

Not permanently lost, but delayed and delivered later, many times; usually soaking wet inside and out by the time I get the bag.
When I lived in the Middle East, on my exit flight, my cabin bag was removed from the plane's closet in the business class cabin I was in.
We had stopped enroute at
Jeddah airport, and I went to the bathroom in the plane while we were on the ground.
During that time, I guess the staff had asked people to id the bags in the closet, and I didn't hear them as I was in the loo.
When I got to my destination, no cabin bag to be found.
I was beside myself as it had all the jewellery I'd bought in Saudi Arabia, some huge bottles of expensive perfume, and a new state of the art Sony Walkman...this was in 1986.
I was convinced a crew member had stolen it while they changed crew on the stop.
Nine weeks later, while I was still in the UK, I finally got a call from the rep. for the airline, who was in London, and I had become best friends with him over the phone every few days while checking about my bag.
It had languished in Jeddah airport all that time, unnoticed.
When I went to retrieve it after it had been forwarded to London, all the jewellery was there except one pair of very Arabic-looking earrings, 18c gold; and the Walkman.
Added was a pair of distinctive sandals that the Bedouin women used to wear, and a very strong smell of curry and spices.
I got 200 pounds as compensation from the airline.
Still think of that when I wear any of that jewellery!
While travelling now, I always have a change of clothes in my carryon, and don't let it out of my sight!

Posted by
4574 posts

Never lost permanently, but for a couple of days or a few hours. Worst was my mother in law's baggage for our wedding. Of course, all the wedding clothes were in it. Thankfully they arrived a few days before the event and it arrived the day before the wedding. In 1979 we seemed to have more trust that luggage would arrive. She just washed out underwear and borrowed my mom's caftans. I guess she would have started shopping if the airlines hadn't called the night before and said to expect it in the morning.
It's always a worry to check luggage for cruises and safaris or trips where they can't deliver it directly to you. I have heard of such occurrences.

I have had horror stories from people around me.
But let's keep in mind all the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of suitcases that arrive just as they are supposed to.
TIP: be sure to have your hotel address and cell/email number on a big piece of paper inside your luggage readily visible. Often delays are because there is no immediate identifier or contact info. can sympathize with my sister who moved from Bangladesh to San Miguel di Allende. Her entire effects was shipped by cargo ship...but delivered to the wrong coast of Mexico and dumped on the jetty. The packing container was not water proof. There was a lot of moldy and damaged effects for her to deal with when she got her stuff some months later. She had been living overseas for 20 years or more and had some irreplaceable items.
Sometimes we need to just put things into perspective.

Posted by
15970 posts

OMG, Maria! What a nightmare for her!

Nope, never had bags lost although we did have them get on to a connecting flight in Denver that we couldn't. Go figure. Our flight to Santa Fe was significantly delayed because of a medical emergency while still on the tarmac and had to return to the gate. Medics on; passenger off; oxygen tank depleted; loooong wait for oxygen tank to be replaced. While we RAN through the Denver airport - and our connecting flight was sitting right there at the gate!! - they said sorry, doors were closed and they wouldn't load us. That was also the last flight of the day to S.F. #%^$&

Got booked on next flight to ABQ, and they said they'd route the bags there. Arrive at ABQ, no bags. The airline tracked them down in S.F. Somehow the silly things made the connection and we still can't figure out how they could have beaten us to the gate! Took a $35 pp shuttle from ABQ to the ready-to-close off-site Enterprise office (rental company had wanted $1000 to change our car pickup to ABQ) and drove like mad to the airport to retrieve the bags 'cause it's a tiny port and only open limited hours. Just made it, and just made it to our condo's rental office before it closed too. Whew. Had one more margarita at our fave watering hole that night than probably was necessary but figured we'd earned it (yes, we walked!)

Posted by
2768 posts

Never had a bag permanently lost. One time it was delayed on the way home, which was a pain but not a huge deal because I was home and had all valuables in my carry on anyway. Had to wait over an hour in the line to file a report (I think there was a glitch and a ton of bags didn't make the flight). The bags were delivered to my home 3-4 days later in fine shape.