The airline lost my bag! Helpful tips to help you

View of lake Babati in Tanzania 

View of lake Babati in Tanzania 

For MONTHS leading up to our trip, I started mentally and physically collecting things I would want/need. I planned out my cameras and all the gear I would need for them. I decided on clothes and shoes. And I even limited myself to bringing 3 pens for writing with (I love pens). And the week leading up to leaving I made a pile consiting of all those things. Then I went through and decided what was reallly necessary, It’s easy to convince yourself you will need 6 pairs of shoes, because who can survive with just one pair of sandals? But I had it narrowed down. In my bag I had all the things I would need to survive the next 5 months abroad on 2 different continents and 5 countries. I was so excited. I could see every day in my mind. Having my beloved pair of worn-in birkenstocks as a staple piece while I snapped pictures on my favourite Polaroid with $150 worth of film I saved up to buy.

Flash forward to to landing in Tanzania after 30+ hours of travelling. I could see into the luggage room while we were going through customs. I was able to see Greg’s bag... but not mine. We were one of the last people to go through customs. So I watched as everyone passed through and collected their bags. A pile that was small to start with dwindled with every passenger. And still, my bag wasn’t to be seen. I had to tell myself not to get concerned until we could check the room for sure because my bag could be around the corner or behind the pillar.

We entered the luggage room after going through customs and my bag was nowhere to be seen. I checked, double checked and triple checked every other bag there. But to my dispair my bag wasn’t there. We were directed to a window in the room and we filed a “Baggage Irregularity Report”. They gave us a phone number to call the airport and sent us on our way without any explanations or assistance. I later learned I should have been offered a package with necessities, or been given guidelines to what I could be reimbursed for if I needed to buy items. I went 4 days without any of this information.... it’s been over 13 days now since we landed in Arusha and I still don’t have any more information or been directly offered assistance by the airline, even thought I have been in contact with them a lot.

Turkish Airlines does have a good website setup for missing bags. With a way to chat to a representative and upload any information you want to share ad well as a way to edit previous information like current address and phone number in case that changes. The responses can be slow I have found especially since my claim has now switched departments to “investigation”. If you really need to talk to them, give them a call. Overall I have found my experience with Turkish Airlines up the this point irritating. They have never reached out to me, I always have to initiate contact and they made a dumb mistake that has possibly left to the finding of my bag even less likely. I am also a little mad at the AirCanada representative at Kelowna airport who wouldn’t let me upgrade my bag to Priority because “she didn’t think it was necessary” (I literally already had the priority tags and she took them from me). I am still optimistic they will find my bag. I’m not giving up hope or admitting defeat just yet.

So with all that said, here are some tips for travelling. We never expect or hope we will lose our bag, But I hope these steps may help you if this ever happens to you...

LESSON NUMBER 1: DONT PUT ANYTHIG REMOTLEY SENTIMENTAL IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE

Yes I know this can be hard to do. But if you are really serious about taking something travelling with you, make sure you are okay losing it. No matter if it is in your checked bag or carry on.  If you are adiment about taking something sentimental, put it in your carry on or wear it on your body (if its jewelry).  If your bag gets lost in transit, there is a chance you may never see it again.

LESSON NUMBER 2: BUY GOOD TRAVEL INSURANCE

I hear too many horror stories of things going wrong when people travel. I would never want to risk anything so I ALWAYS buy travel insurance from a really reputable company. If something goes wrong you want to make sure you have someone who can pull out the big guns for you. Not Joe from around the corner doing his best. Travel insurance can cover many thongs aside from your health. My travel insurance also covers delayed baggage and lost baggage but I paid extra for that. So if for some reason my airline didn’t offer any compensation for late/lost bags, I would be covered under my travel insurance. Even though my arline is compensating and reimburseing me for this irritating ordeal, I think I will use my travel insurance to claim some things because it will be faster and easier to get my money back (I’m not saying I am double dipping in any way. Just that I won’t claim the clothes I bought through the airline, but I will claim them through the travel insurance because I will get reimbursed faster).

LESSON NUMBER 3: MAKE A LIST OF WHATS IN YOUR BAG AND KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS

Im not saying you have to do this. But it will make your life easier if something does go wrong. I have had to spend hours making a spreadsheet and trying to find receipts for things when I should be enjoying my holiday. It would have made my life easier and make the claim go faster if I had this information all ready. If I could go back, I would have made a list of everything I packed when I was packing. Even just having a list of everything I had put in my bag (from lip chap to camera gear) would make my life so much easier now. I could figure out receipts and prices from here but now I am left trying to remember every single thing that was in my bag. I don’t have to remember everything, but what I don’t remember I won’t be reimbursed for. If you think about it, it adds up. If I forget to claim 10 small things that cost around $10 each, then I have lost $100. I know a lot of things you won’t have receipts for, but the airline will trust you and pay you for the items that you had even if you don’t haven receipts but you may only be reimbursed a percentage of what it was worth (The airline will reimburse me 80% of current market value for what I don’t have receipts for)

Always try and keep your receipts for big things. I usually have receipts for most things since I buy most of my stuff online but big things are always important, not only for if it goes missing in your baggage. They haven’t asked for proof of purchase yet, but I know they will. They do not want to pay $1 more than they have to. So when It comes time for me to prove what my stuff was worth I need to have all that ready. You should also keep your receipts for everything you have to buy while your bag is lost and try to get an itemized receipt when possible. The claims people will want to see this so they know what you are spending your money on. And make sure it is stuff you really “need” like shampoo and clothes, not a new cell phone etc.

Side note: I’m not totally clear on if I will be reimbursed 100%  for things I have receipts for. Since some things are years old. So don’t quote me on that. But I am under the impression they should.

LESSON NUMBER 4: HAVE A PICTURE OF YOUR CHECKED BAGS WHEN THEY ARE PACKED. 

I didn’t have a picture of my bag, so when they requested it all I could tell them was what my bag looked like. Which might not be too helpful. I don’t want to think about how many blue MEC backpacks there are floating around the world. Luckily I purchased my bag not long before we went on our trip, so I was able to find an image of it on the MEC website that I could give to the claims people.

LESSON NUMBER 5: PUT A SECOND LUGGAGE TAG ON YOUR BAG

The airline is saying the reason my bag was lost, was because the baggage tag was ripped off in transit. So I think if I had attached a second baggage tag of my own with my email and address, there would have been less chance of my bag going missing, and if it did it would have been a lot easier to identify. I’m not saying it would have for sure prevented my bag from going missing, but the chances could have decreased greatly because the chances of 2 tags being ripped off is a lot less than 1 tag being ripped off. I’m kicking myself because when I travel I ALWAYS use a secondary baggage tag but the one time I don’t.... If I would have taken 5 minutes and picked up that baggage tag I saw when I was standing in line at winners for $5 I may have been able to save myself some of this irritation.

Overall.... these steps may have taken 30 minutes to do while I was packing my bag before we left. Now I have had to spend hours trying to figure this all out and doing this before I left could have possibly saved me a lot of time and frustration. Not saying I wouldn’t be frustrated if I had lost my bag and still done all these steps,  it would have taken some stress off of me while trying to get my bag back.

Thanks for reading, <3

Gemma  

UPDATE JANUARY 23rd 2018

MY BAG WAS FOUND!!! Yaaayyyyy!!!!! 

I wasn’t satisfied by the service I was receiving fine Turkish Airlines, so I reached out to AirCanda. The original airline I flew with out of Canada. I am so glad I did, because they located my bag RIGHT AWAY. It was still in Canada, and never even left our home airport! They are working on sending my bag to me right now, and it should hopefully be here in a few days.  

New lesson to add,  

LESSON NUMBER 6: CHECK WITH ALL AIRLINES YOU FLEW WITH! 

There turned out to be a mistake in the notice Turkish Airlines went out about my bag. So nobody could have probably recognize my bag even if they did have it. I am so glad I filed a second missing bag report with AirCanada. They have been very helpful and responsive to my messages! 

Thanks for all your good vibes and prayers ❤️ 

 

Gemma