Lost Luggage - An Ever Increasing Issue with Air Travelers.

If you have ever had the experience of lost luggage while traveling, you know how nerve wracking it can be while you wait to find out what the outcome will be for recovery of your bags. Most of the airlines will tell you that 98% of lost luggage will be recovered within 24 hours. Of the two times my luggage was lost, that was the case. It is not always so.

Lost luggage is a question on many travelers' minds these days as reports of mishandled luggage continue to increase. The top 20 domestic airlines mishandled 7.92 checked bags per 1,000 passengers June, higher than both June 2006's 6.30 rate and May 2007's 5.93 mark, according to the most recent Air Travel Consumer Report issued by the Transportation Department.

Most airlines state that they will attempt to return your luggage within 24 hours but make no promises about reimbursing you for your costs. Northwest is among the most straightforward. Its Web site states that a customer whose luggage is delayed may request a free toiletries kit at the airport and reimbursement for personal items purchased as a result of the delay, limited to $50 for the first 24 hours and $25 for each day of delay up to $150. Alitalia says it refunds all expenses incurred by clients during the period they are without luggage.

Luggage manufacturers, such as Victorinox and Tumi are offering some help for consumers. They have registration programs that can help reunite you with lost luggage any where in the world. Victorinox calls their program Swiss Tracker Registration and the Tumi's is named Tumi Tracer.

Both programs work in a somewhat similar fashion. A unique number is permanently put on your bag along with a 24-hour worldwide toll free number. If someone finds your lost luggage and calls the toll free number a customer service representative will identify and notify the customer and provide information on how the bag can be recovered or make arrangements to have it picked up and delivered to the customer.

Certainly more of these types of services will become available to passengers in the future, sooner hopefully rather than later. With the top 10 domestic airlines mishandling about 250,000 pieces of luggage per month, we will need all the tools we can get.

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