Lost luggage: What can you do, and what are your rights?

The baggage belt is turning in empty circles and everyone else has left. It’s time to face the truth: you’ve arrived at your holiday destination, but your luggage hasn’t. What can you do next?
Air passengers can follow a few simple steps to maximise their chances of getting their luggage back quickly, according to German consumer organization Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Wuerttemberg.
First, they should immediately head for the nearest lost and found baggage counter at the airport and report the lost luggage to the airline. Passengers have up to seven days to report the loss, but the sooner they do it, the better. Each case is registered under a damage claim number.
Before you travel, consider taking a smartphone picture of the contents of your luggage, or have a witness document the contents before a trip, so that you can prove the value of the lost items.
After you have reported a loss, the airline will typically reimburse you for emergency purchases. But moderation is advised – only really necessary articles will be reimbursed. This includes toiletries and other everyday items that an airline can recognise as being essential.
Under the Montreal Convention on lost baggage, airlines can reimburse passengers for delayed or lost baggage worth up to a maximum of 1,580 dollars per passenger. The sum is determined partly according to how old lost items are.
Package tour travellers can demand a reduction in the price of their holiday if their luggage is lost, according to air travel expert Heinrich Grossbongardt.
In such cases, a 25 per cent reduction can be claimed after luggage has been missing for three days. If the baggage is lost for the entire holiday, the reduction should be 50 per cent, Grossbongardt says. — dpa