What to do if you lose your suitcase?

If you travel a lot and you’re flying, you will definitely know what we are talking about. It doesn’t matter whether the bag you handed in before departure has gone missing or has arrived late, you will still end up panicking. This is especially true if you are traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, or if you are only able to communicate with the airline in English.

Since the holiday season is shortly about to start, we would like to give you a few tips here and now. If you were to experience a similar problem, then you will be able to sort it out by following these three simple steps – yes, even in English!

Your bag has gone missing, what should you do?

If you are waiting in vain at the baggage claim and your bag is nowhere to be seen, then the first thing you should do is this; stay calm. Most of the airlines allow you to “track” your luggage on their homepage, that is to say you can check exactly where it is at the moment. If this is the case, then you can at least see exactly where your bag is at present, and that will at least give you some comfort.

Nonetheless, you should go straight to the appropriate counter. Every airport has a counter close to the baggage claim, where they can double check for you. The staff there can check exactly where your bag is and tell you what you should do next.

Useful sentences:

Hi I’ve just arrived on flight XXXX, my luggage was supposed to come out of carousel 4 but it wasn’t there.

Hi, can you help me out? I just arrived and as my bag wasn’t at the baggage claim. I checked on your homepage and it says it’s still in Thailand. Can you please double check?

Hi, I couldn’t find my checked luggage, could you help me figure out where it is?

Declaring the loss of your bag

It’s possible that your bag has just been delayed or is on a different flight. However, you should still mention it at the baggage counter. You will usually be given a document, which you have to fill out, or the staff there will take a record of the details. You must declare, among other things, your flight number and the registration number of your baggage, as well as a description of your bag, both outside and inside.

Useful phrases:

Sure no problem, can you please show me your baggage identification number?

My flight number is xxxxx and my bag identification number is xxxxx, do you need anything else?

Can you please describe your bag and the main items in it?

My bag is a purple suitcase with 4 wheels, it has a sticker with a yellow smiley face on the front. There are mainly clothes inside and a bottle of wine.

Lost or missing?

As we have said already, it’s not a major problem if your bag is merely delayed, it makes no difference whether you’re on your way home or on your way to your holiday accommodation. If you declare your address, your bag will be delivered to your door just as soon as it’s been located. Depending on the airline, the length of delay and your personal circumstances, you may well find that you get some compensation. It may well be the case for example, that you are entitled to purchase any essential garments and to buy toiletries, assuming that you don’t already have such items in your hand baggage.  It is, however, up to the individual airline and your flight class. In the event that your baggage really is lost, you must file a complaint. In most cases you will receive a questionnaire from the airline, which you must complete and you will have to describe your contents and their value in great detail. Here are some useful words which may help you out in such situations:

Baggage Claim ticket

Baggage claim counter

To file a claim

Type of claim






Baggage description and contents list


Name tag

Cost reimbursement

Excess value receipt

Last but not least one more tip; always take a photo of your baggage before you depart, that way you’ll find it much easier to describe your baggage, and it will also help you recall roughly what was in the bags. In addition you should always keep the items you need the most in your hand baggage.

As you can see, however relaxed you are about flying away on holiday, come what may, you will be well prepared! And should you wish to brush up a little on your English during your stay, register with ABA English right away, and you will receive the first lesson and a complete grammar guide free of charge.

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