Lost luggage, important info you should know

January 2, 2008 6:48:20 PM PST
In the first three quarters of this year alone, three and a half million pieces of luggage were lost, damaged, delayed, or even stolen at the nation's airports.

Nearly a dozen people lined up at SFO to report their lost luggage. One man had been looking for his luggage since the night before.

"Our luggage was lost in Los Angeles last night. Our flight arrived somewhere around midnight and our luggage never left Los Angeles," says Mike Olant, Millbrae.

No one at the airport could tell him where his luggage might be. He managed to find it himself the next afternoon.

"It was in the bags over there, just sitting there."

Mike is among millions of passengers each year who arrive at their destinations without their bags. ABC7's aviation consultant, Ron Wilson, says there are things you can do to reduce your risk.

"Number one is most luggages look alike. It's all either light, dark grey, or black. So, if you get brightly colored luggage or luggage that you tied bands on with bright colors, that stands out," says Wilson.

If you do lose your luggage, airlines will pay up to $3,000 dollars for lost items on domestic flights and $1,000 dollars on international flights.

"A person is not going to get rich on this thing. Don't expect to claim something that's outrageous. They're going to give you what the average cost is per item," says Wilson.

The important thing is to report your luggage lost as soon as you know. Then, file an itemized claim to report what's missing. However, not everything is covered by the airline's lost baggage policy.

They won't pay for electronic equipment, including cameras and personal computers. Fragile items and anything irreplaceable also won't be covered.

Check things you wouldn't want to put in You want to take that stuff with you on board the airplane," says Wilson.

For those looking for extra protection, SmartMoney.com's Kellie Grant says certain credit cards will reimburse you if your bag is lost for good, or even delayed.

"Look at the benefits that your card offers and then book the trip with the card that offers the best assistance," says Grant.

If you find yourself crossing your fingers every time you check in your luggage, that may be the way to go.