Isn’t spending four days without my clothes worth $750?

When Susan Braitman boards her cruise ship in Southampton, England, her luggage doesn’t board with her — and it takes four days for British Airways to reunite her and her bags. When she asks for reimbursement of the cost of items she needed for those four days, the airline goes silent. Can we help reunite her with her money?

Question: British Airways lost my luggage for 7 days. I submitted the necessary form to be reimbursed for my purchases while I was without luggage, but British Airways has not reimbursed me.

My luggage was originally checked with American Airlines in Miami. It was checked all the way through to London. I arrived at Gatwick after an overnight flight, but my luggage did not arrive. British Airways assigned a delayed luggage reference number. I sailed on the Silversea Wind from Southampton, England, the following day, but my luggage was not delivered to me until we were in Bordeaux, France, four days later.

My claim to British Airways for $750 consisted of clothing purchases in the ports of call up to Bordeaux. Aside from acknowledging the reimbursement claim, which was made upon my return to the U.S., I have not heard from British Airways, despite contacting them several times.

Can you help me get reimbursement for the items I was forced to purchase? — Susan Braitman, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear that your luggage went missing before a cruise. I know how frustrating it is for luggage to go missing at any time, but when you’re boarding a ship this situation can be even more complicated.

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In a couple of previous jobs I had guests traveling with me who did not board the ship with their luggage. They were forced to shop for clothes in the cruise ship gift shop and shops in port and to rely on the kindness of fellow passengers who in several cases shared their clothes. It’s more complicated to receive your luggage during a cruise because port times are sometimes so short that by the time an airline reaches the ship, it has already sailed to the next port.

You did the right thing by immediately filing a claim for your lost luggage before leaving the airport. You also gave British Airways your cruise itinerary, which likely made it easier for the company to reunite you with your luggage. While you didn’t mention it in your communication with us, I hope you also gave your British Airways claim information to the Silversea staff when you boarded so they could follow up with the airline instead of leaving you to interrupt your vacation to track down your own luggage.

In its policies on lost baggage, British Airways promises to reimburse for “essential items,” which it defines as “toiletries and basics when a bag is delayed,” and requires that you keep your receipts, which you did. The airline also promises to reimburse damage to your bag and its contents, as well as damage to the contents of the bag, but none of these seemed to be a problem with your case.

After sending your initial claim to British Airways, you waited for your refund but it never came. You could have reached out to the contacts we list on our website for British Airways, but instead you contacted us and we reached out to the airline on your behalf.

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Although it took a while for British Airways to get back to us, when it did we learned that it did not have the receipts you sent when you initially made your claim. You provided them to us and we contacted the airline again.

Although your claim was for $750, your receipts only totaled $634, and British Airways has agreed to refund that amount.

In order to speed recovery of lost luggage I always advise that your luggage should have both your home address as well as your trip itinerary on both the outside and inside of your luggage. Some purveyors of travel gear sell luggage tags with a pocket for a printed itinerary. The tags typically have a notice on the outside in multiple languages stating that an itinerary is inside the pocket. I always place an itinerary and my home address inside the bag as well — if a bag is lost and no tags remain on the outside, airline or personnel will often look inside to try to identify the owner.

I’m glad we could help you get the refund, and I hope you enjoyed your cruise, in spite of the missing luggage.

Michelle Bell

Michelle worked in the travel and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Born in Germany, she has lived in 15 states and two foreign countries, and traveled to more than 35 countries. After living and working in Southeast Asia for several years, she now resides in New Orleans.

  • AAGK

    Airlines should only compensate the receipts. It sounds like BA got lucky here. If I had to purchase clothing and toiletries for 7 days, I would have to spend significantly more. One needs more than a toothbrush, undergarments and a pair of sneakers. A traveler may need a coat, dress shoes, pajamas, swimsuits, grooming products, sweaters, etc.

  • Rebecca

    I’m confused. How was the OP without luggage for 7 days if she flew into London overnight, boarded the ship, and received the luggage on the fourth day of the cruise. Am I missing something? That’s 4 days.

  • Michael__K

    Day One of the cruise is Day Two since landing and Day Three since departure.

    This cruise stops for 3 days in Bordeaux. She probably got the luggage on Day Five of the cruise (maybe at the end of the day after returning to the ship). Which corresponds to 6 days since landing and 7 days since original departure.

  • Alan Gore

    This happened to me once on a ski week in Aspen, CO. Because my bags and skis did not arrive until the last day, I had to buy new gear to last the entire week, including ski rental.

    But that was in the good old days (1972) and the airline paid up without a peep.

  • Kristiana Lee

    I do that in the hope that my luggage and I can get reunited if something like this should happen. My house has an alarm and so far the service has worked as promised. But you bring up a good point and I’m not sure I’d do it if we didn’t have that service.

  • Rebecca

    The headline says 4 days? And she boarded the day she landed – it definitely says that. I remain confused.

  • Michael__K

    Confused about what? The article quotes the passenger directly. It was 4 days after *sailing*. Which is consistent with 7 days from original flight departure.

  • Rebecca

    The headline says 4 days without clothes. That is not ambiguous, IMO. No matter where she is, not having clothes is not having clothes. It isn’t particularly important, she’s due reimbursement and I’m glad she received it. I’m just a stickler for things like that I guess. I try to be grammatically correct and to spell properly. My family teases me because I text in complete sentences!

  • Michael__K

    The headline is off but the passenger’s statement quoted in the article is clear and corroborated by the cruise itinerary. Where is the spelling/grammar error?

    “I sailed on the Silversea Wind from Southampton, England, the following day”

  • Rebecca

    The headline being off IS the error.

  • MarkKelling

    Last time I spent 4 days of my vacation without clothes I paid more than $750 to do so. Oh, different type of situation. ..

  • Lee

    I agree – I never include my itinerary. Don’t need to leave such obvious bread crumbs but I do have my address/email/phone in my bag (and address on outside tag- not too worried about that as I live in a doorman building and no one gets past him/her with permission of resident. But, actual dates of travel and destinations/hotels/etc? Why? Never.

  • JewelEyed

    It seems to me somehow unlikely that seeing a random address on a bag is going to cause some person you pass at an airport to decide to go and rob your house. However, I put my e-mail address on my bag in case there’s a problem.

  • The Original Joe S

    British Air has a very bad rep on this blog

  • The Original Joe S

    No, you are a picker of nits, and a generally anti-customer person to boot.

  • JewelEyed

    I put my itinerary in my bag and my e-mail address on the outside. They may know where I’m going, but they don’t know where I live.

  • PsyGuy

    That was some expensive shopping? While it all sounds on the up and up. $634 sounds a little bit like an excuse to take a tiny bit of a shopping trip. You can certainly spend that much but how much does it cost to get a maxi or summer dress and maybe a top and pair of jeans with some intimates, a couple hundred?
    Aside from that, why did the airline go dark, if they didn’t have her receipts just contact the PAX and ask again for receipts?

  • Pegtoo

    Including itinerary would help the bag catch up to you on the trip.

  • Mel65

    Have you ever had to shop for clothing while on the cruise in the cruise ship store? When we took our last cruise I wanted to buy my husband a golf shirt because he wears them everyday to work and a golf shirt with the cruise ship logo on it just a plain white golf shirt was $63! And it’s unlikely that she would be able to find something cheap like a Walmart or Target when they’re in Port + frankly shouldn’t have to so add in a few pair of underwear a second pair of shoes a couple pair of pants (Jeans may not have been available on the cruise ships or the local part stores) , something to sleep in, a few things to lounge around in comma maybe a dress to wear to dinner.. I think that it is pretty reasonable actually.

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