This is what to do if an airline loses your luggage

Jetting off on holiday is exciting, but there are plenty of things that can go wrong at the airport, from huge queues at security to delayed or cancelled flights.

Lost or delayed luggage is a massive but not uncommon problem for travellers, and it's important to know what you are entitled to should your suitcases go missing.

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If you're heading off on your next adventure by plane, here's what you need to know about lost luggage.

Report delayed bags as soon as possible

If your bags do not appear on the luggage carousel at your destination airport, you should report this to airport staff at arrivals as soon as possible.

Some companies also offer customers the option to log missing bags online. This should genereally be done within 24 hours of your flight's arrival.

Once your report is logged, you should be given a reference number and kept updated until your luggage is found and on its way back to you.

Making do without your suitcase

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If you are away from home and lose your bag, you might find yourself without many of the essential items you had packed for your trip.

Most airlines will reimburse you for the cost of the basic toiletries and clothes you'll need until you are reunited with your suitcase. Always keep receipts for these purchases, and don't go overboard with spending.

EasyJet will refund you up to £25 per person per day for up to three days while you wait for your delayed bags to arrive, for example, so this is probably a sensible amount to aim for.

Getting your delayed luggage back

Generally speaking, if your bag is found, it will be delivered to your chosen address as quickly as possible - hopefully before your holiday is over.

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If you'd prefer, you can normally arrange to collect your suitcase from the airport.

The majority of airlines will cover the cost of any basic essentials you might need to buy while your bag is missing (Photo: Shutterstock)

When do delayed bags become lost bags?

If your luggage is not found and returned to you after a certain amount of time (usually 21 days), the airline will declare it 'lost' rather than simply 'delayed'.

Will I be compensated?

If your bags are officially declared 'lost', you are generally eligible to claim compensation for the loss of your belongings, and can do this by contacting the airline directly.

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The amount of money that the airline pays you will depend on the contents of your bag, and whether or not you can prove that you previously purchased the belongings that have gone missing.

Be aware that some companies, such as British Airways, officially state that they will accept no liability for the loss of jewellery, money and other valuables that have been packed inside checked baggage. These kinds of items are safer in your hand luggage, and you may not be compensated for them if they go missing in your hold bag.

What if my lost bag turns up later?

Your airline should keep the details of all lost bags so that the owners can be contacted if they are found in the future.

Don't forget about travel insurance

If you purchased a travel insurance policy before going on holiday and losing your luggage, it is worth checking to see what your insurer can offer you. Some may pay out more than the airline, depending on your coverage.