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. Read more of Michelle Bell's articles here.

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