PIA PLANE STOLEN. WHO WILL TAKE ACTION ?
How to Take Action for Stolen Airline Luggage
Having your luggage stolen can ruin a trip, whether it happens at the beginning or on the home stretch. The fact that multiple entities potentially have liability for the theft can only complicate matters. To take action for stolen airline luggage, report the theft immediately and cover all the bases. Filing multiple claims with the airline and insurance companies may improve your chances of a fair recovery of your loss.
Reporting the Theft to the Airline
Locate the baggage claim office.If you're still in the airport when you discover that your luggage was stolen, find the baggage claim office of the last airline you were on and report the theft immediately.
- Most airlines will have a baggage claim office located close to their baggage claim carousels, or along the outside walls of the airport's baggage claim area.
- Even if you have no idea when your bag was stolen, you should report the theft to the last airline you were on. Let them sort out the details of where your luggage was stolen.
- If you notice the theft in the airport, you should report it right then. However, if you have a situation in which items you packed were stolen from your bag, you may not discover the theft until later.
- Airlines typically require you to file a report within 24 hours. For this reason, you should open your checked bags at your earliest convenience – for example, as soon as you've checked into your hotel – and evaluate the contents.
- If you notice something missing after you've left the airport, call the airline's toll-free customer service number or search for a claim form on the airline's website.
File a written report.Whether in person or over the phone, insist on completing a written report and make sure you have a copy of the report for your records. Not only will you need it for reference, but you may need to submit it to an insurance company.
- Some baggage agents may want you to wait a few days to see if your bag turns up. Essentially, they'll want to categorize it as missing first, then re-categorize it as stolen if it doesn't show up after a few days.
- However, if you go along with this, you've lost valuable time during which you could have been filing reports with law enforcement agencies such as the local police and airport security.
- The agent will allow you to report your luggage stolen if you insist. You may need to exercise the same assertiveness if you're filing your report over the phone.
- If you file your report online or over the phone, make sure a written copy of the report is emailed to you so you have it for your records and to provide to law enforcement or insurance agencies.
Review the laws or regulations that apply to your flight.The extent to which the airline is liable for your loss varies among airlines and whether you were on an international or U.S. domestic flight. You should be able to find a basic summary of the applicable regulations at the airport or on the airline's website.
- For example, airlines are not liable for the loss of the contents of your stolen bag that are in excess of around ,000. Some airlines may extend this coverage if you pay a small fee when you book your flight.
- Many international carriers have even lower limits which may not even come close to covering everything you had packed in your stolen luggage.
- Airline liability for lost or stolen luggage on international flights is governed by two international agreements. The Montreal Pact covers Canada, Australia, and European countries, as well as some others. Most other countries are covered by the Warsaw Pact.
- Consumer agencies and travel publishers frequently have summaries of these agreements and how they affect you if your luggage is lost or stolen.
- It can be a good idea to see if you can find a brochure that outlines your rights and the airline's responsibilities, so you can reference it when speaking with airline baggage or customer service agents.
Keep in contact with the airline.After filing your report, set reminders for yourself and check on the status of your claim at least once a day until it's resolved. The airline may not be in any rush to assess the situation unless you keep on them.
- The airline should give you a claim number when you file your written report. You can use that number to access your claim and get status updates, either online or over the phone.
- Many major airlines have online apps you can use to check the status of your claim and set notifications when there is any significant change.
- Start a log, and write down the date and time you talk to anyone at the airline, as well as the name of the person with whom you spoke. Get a first and last name, as well as a job title, so you can identify them if you speak to anyone else.
File a police report.Particularly if specific items were stolen from your bag, but not the bag itself, you must file a police report as soon as possible after you discover the theft. The airline and airport security agencies may require a copy of a police report before they take any action.
- Even if the local police insist that they don't have jurisdiction inside the airport, or that you have no way of knowing where your items were stolen, insist that the report be created.
- If you're flying on a U.S. domestic flight, you also should file a theft report with the TSA. The agency has an online claim form you can use.
- You also want to file a police report as soon as possible – typically within 24 hours of your discovery of the theft. The sooner you report the theft, the greater the likelihood that your luggage might be recovered.
- Make sure you get copies of all written law enforcement reports you file so you have them for your records.
Escalate your claim.If you're dissatisfied with the response you're getting from the airline, ask to speak to a supervisor and work your way up the chain of command. This can be especially effective if you have an airline agent claiming the airline isn't liable for your losses when you know legally they are.
- Any time you're speaking with a supervisor or manager, take the time to go through the timeline of your claim and correct any inaccuracies.
- As with customer service or baggage claim agents, get the name and job title of anyone with whom you speak.
- Repeat their words back to them or ask them to put anything significant they say to you in writing so you can hold them accountable.
Filing an Insurance Claim
Review your insurance policies.Some or all of the contents of your luggage may potentially be covered under a number of different insurance polices, including your homeowner's or renter's insurance as well as any travel insurance you purchased for your trip.
- This will be easier if your luggage was stolen on your trip home than if you're currently traveling, but use your best efforts to find the information you need.
- Particularly if you were carrying relatively new items, it's possible a single item is covered under multiple insurance policies.
- For example, if your laptop was stolen, it may be covered under the device warranty, your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy, and an insurance policy offered through the credit card you used to make the purchase.
- When there are multiple policies in play, the key for you is to find the one that will give you the best recovery that will allow you to replace the covered item.
- For example, if your travel insurance only covers depreciated value, while your homeowner's policy provides replacement value, you want to file your claim with your homeowner's insurance company.
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.Insurance companies typically have deadlines that limit the time you have to file a claim for theft. The deadline may only be a few days, as measured from the time you noticed or reasonably should have noticed the theft.
- Understand that taking care of the situation may take a day out of your vacation, if you're still traveling. Ideally you want to file all the necessary reports and make your claims within 24 hours of your discovery of the theft.
- Getting in touch with your insurance company may be difficult if you're traveling internationally. Keep time zones in mind when you make your call.
- If your insurance company has a local office nearby, you may be able to save yourself some time and hassle by going into that office to file your claim rather than working with a representative on a customer service line or trying to file a claim online.
Provide detailed information.The more factual details you provide, the more likely you are to get a fair recovery from the insurance company. You should provide details about the flight, including dates and times, along with specific descriptions of your luggage and the contents of your bags.
- List everyone with whom you spoke about the theft, including names and job titles for each person, so a claims agent can get in touch with the same people if necessary.
- You'll need to make copies of all documentation of your flight, as well as any proof you have of the contents of your luggage.
- If you're traveling and unsure where to get copies made, talk to the front desk clerk at your hotel. They may even make copies on the hotel's copier for you at no charge if you explain your situation.
Submit a copy of any theft reports.If you have a written report that you filed with the airline, you should provide a copy of that report to the insurance company. This makes it easier for the insurance agent to assess your claim and determine the airline's liability.
- Some insurance companies may require a police report before they'll accept the claim. If so, this requirement should be noted on the claim form.
- It's possible you filed reports with the airline, local police, and airport security. If so, you should provide copies of all of them.
Follow up on your claim.It can be difficult to keep track of the status of an insurance claim if you're traveling. However, you need to keep in contact with the insurance company and make sure they can get in touch with you if anything changes or they need more information to process your claim.
- Once your claim is received, you should be assigned a claim number. Keep that number with all your other forms and information regarding the theft. You'll need it if you want to check on the status of your claim.
- You may be contacted by a claims agent to ask questions about the theft and the contents of your bag or the specific items you've listed in your claim.
- Keep in mind that honesty is the best policy here. If you fudge on your descriptions of items in your luggage and the insurance company finds out, you could find yourself charged with insurance fraud.
Preventing Luggage Theft
Avoid packing valuable items in checked bags.International agreements and national regulations limit airline liability for the contents of lost or stolen luggage significantly. Even insurance policies typically have limits and won't cover expensive items.
- You also need to avoid packing items in checked baggage that is unique or untraceable. Examples include signed contracts and cash.
- If at all possible, arrange to carry electronic devices such as laptops or tablets in your carry-on luggage. The same goes for expensive cameras and camera equipment.
- Most airlines accept no liability for loss of these types of items, and list them explicitly as exclusions. If you're going on a trip that requires you to bring along expensive equipment, you might want to check into having it shipped to your destination.
- You also want to avoid including jewelry, fragile items, and anything with sentimental value. Essentially, if you cannot afford to replace it or if it is one of a kind, don't pack it in your checked baggage.
- If you have expensive or irreplaceable souvenirs that you've picked up during your travel, consider having them shipped home rather than carrying them in your luggage. You may have to pay a little more for international shipping, but the items will be insured and handled by professionals.
Keep an inventory of the items you packed.Before you head to the airport, make a list of the items in your checked bags. You also can take a picture of your open suitcase on your smart phone so you'll have it with you.
- Make sure you keep your inventory list on your person. For example, you might keep it on your phone. An inventory list would be pointless if you packed it in the checked bag.
- Review the liability limits and keep them in mind when you're packing. If you have items that you know will push the value of the total contents of your bag over the top, consider packing them in a carry on if possible.
- If you have a particularly expensive or important item, such as a laptop or a camera, that you regularly take with you when you travel, you might want to take out a separate insurance policy just for that item.
Secure your bags with approved locks.Closing your bag properly and securing the closures with a lock makes your bag less attractive to potential luggage thieves. Theft typically is a crime of convenience, and if your bag doesn't look easy to open most thieves won't bother.
- On the other hand, having a lock on your bag may signal to would-be thieves that your bag contains something valuable or worth stealing.
- When purchasing a lock (or luggage that comes with built-in locks) make sure it's approved by the air travel security agencies in the areas where you'll be traveling.
- If you use an unapproved lock, security agents may break it or the fasteners that close your bag while conducting a routine search. This would make your bag more vulnerable to theft than it was in the first place.
Choose luggage that stands out.When purchasing new luggage, try to find something loud and colorful. Would-be thieves typically target plain black or navy blue bags that don't have any distinctive features. This makes it harder for you to identify your bag if you happen to catch them in the act.
- Another reason thieves often prefer nondescript bags is that, if stopped by security, it gives them the ability to pretend the whole thing was a mistake.
- They'll tell a security agent that they didn't intend to steal the bag, they just thought it was theirs because all these bags look alike.
- There's something to be said about choosing the gaudiest, loudest piece of luggage you can find. It's less likely to be stolen because nobody would want to be seen with it.
- In addition, you may be able to get it at a lower price, since stores often discount "ugly" bags that no one wants.
Get to baggage claim quickly.It takes awhile after you land for bags to start rolling through the carousel. If you don't dawdle in the airport, but proceed directly to baggage claim when you get off the plane, you may get their before your bag does.
- While most airlines provide claim tickets for checked baggage, these tickets are seldom checked and matched with the tag on a particular suitcase unless there's a blatant issue.
- Additionally, the baggage claim area typically is located very close to the airport exits, so travelers can easily leave once they get off their plane.
- This relatively insecure system makes it fairly easy for someone to simply walk up and take a bag off the carousel and head out the door before they are discovered.
- When you get to the baggage area, stand as close as you can to the opening where bags are placed on the carousel. If you have a bright bag that stands out, you should notice it immediately and be able to take it home before it's even exposed to a would-be thief.
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