We Have Friends Who Sailed on Regent and Did Not Receive their Luggage Until They Returned Home

Q— (5.5.24) Our friends recently returned from a Regent Cruise sailing out of Athens. They were booked on a pre-cruise program. Their flight out of New York was canceled, and they ended up with a new schedule that required several flight changes. They arrived in Athens after 38 hours of flying. According to the Apple Air Tag, their luggage was still at Charles DeGaulle. No one from Regent or the Regent-booked hotel could help them. They finally sent an e-mail directly to the CEO of Delta and received word two days later that their luggage would be sent home as they had requested.  Thjey did the cruise with clothing and accessories they had purchased in Athens. 

We have a cruise planned on Silversea in two months and we are wondering what to do to prepare for such a situation. They told me that the travel agent could not do much because the agent had not done the ticketing. Any advise for those of us who might be worried about a similar experience regarding lost luggage would be appreciated.

A – As the rater of flight cancellations keeps creeping up, stranded pre-cruise and pre-tour baggage is a growing problem. It is a rather complicated problem to fix when it occurs because the airlines generally refuse to talk to anyone but the booking agent or the customer directly. Most airlines outsource their lost baggage departments these days so formal claims must be filed before departing the airport at one’s final destination. Although cruise lines provide air as a “convenience” to their guests, they are generally unwilling to assume responsibility for lost baggage. They will claim that it is the airline’s responsibility.

Here are Some Suggestions to Both Prepare and Cope with Lost Luggage During an International Trip: 

  • Use the Apple Air Tags or a similar tracking device so you always know where your bags are at any moment
  • Do not travel without emergency numbers, including the number of your airline’s lost baggage department. Ask for this number when you check in for your first flight.
  • If your bags are lost, you should send a specific email to the lost baggage address. Always include the baggage claim number, the lost baggage report number, and a full description, including size, brand, and color, of your missing luggage. 
  • Try using large baggage tags, including where you are staying and the dates on the back of the tag. That could prove helpful. 
  • Always pack two nights of fresh clothing in your carry-on. 
  • If you are not assigned non-stop flights abroad, seriously consider having your bags shipped directly to your hotel by one of the better luggage shipping services such as “Luggage-Free” (It isn’t) 
  • Forget arriving at your pre-cruise destination one night before boarding the ship. To help avoid boarding without your possessions, start planning three-night pre-cruise stays wherever you are traveling. That extra day and night will help increase the odds that you will receive your bags before boarding your ship. 
  • If you check in to a quality hotel without your luggage, tip the team at the Concierge Desk and nicely solicit their aid. They will often have contacts within the airport. Don’t forget that once your luggage arrives at your destination airport, it still has to be sent to your hotel. There are instances where you would go with a courier from the hotel to secure your luggage from customs personally.
  • Keep a notebook with the dates/times of all conversations and details associated with your lost luggage. Keep all receipts and copies of paperwork in an envelope for easy access. This will be extremely helpful should you decide to file an insurance claim using your “lost luggage” or “trip delay” provisions. 
  • If you have not received your bags do not immediately go on a wild shopping spree as insurance companies have very limited coverage of expenditures for replacement clothing. 
  • Your travel advisor will, hopefully,  be tirelessly working on your behalf. Make certain that you send your advisor a daily status update. It helps if you work with an advisor who has a personal relationship with your cruise line’s management. Because cruise lines do not take responsibility for lost baggage, and the airlines will only deal with the entity that issued the tickets (The Cruise Line or Tour Company Air Departments), your travel advisor will likely be rather restricted in what they can do to help you. If your travel agency personally issued your tickets, they will/should get involved with their airline representatives.
  • One or two of the better air ticketing specialists include assistance with lost baggage in their services. If you use one of these Flight Monitoring Services, such as Cranky Concierge, you will have an advantage as they can deal directly with the airlines and their baggage departments.
  • Always pack anything that is truly important to you and all documentation in your carry-on. 
  • Please try to stay calm. In the vast majority of cases, well over 90% of the time, passengers flying internationally, particularly those in Business or First Class, are eventually reunited with their lost luggage.