Realize your luggage didn’t make it to your final destination? If you flew Lufthansa, find out everything you need to know to navigate this stressful situation!
I’ve traveled internationally now probably at least two dozen times. In that time, I have never had an issue with lost luggage.
Studies estimate that a little less than 1% of luggage globally is lost or misdirected… so I had falsely assumed that lost baggage would only occur if three things happened simultaneously – (1) a short connection with (2) an inefficient airline (3) on a bad day.
When I flew the Star Alliance from Houston to Rome, I had a connection in Munich. My first flight was United, my second flight was Lufthansa, and I was connecting through a Lufthansa airport with one of the shortest minimum connecting times (MCT) in the world.
What is MCT?
Minimum connection time is the minimum amount of time required for a passenger to connect, as agreed upon by airport authorities and airlines. At Munich, the MCT is only 30 minutes. With my hour-long layover and the German efficiency of Lufthansa, I thought I was going to be fine.
However, my baggage didn’t make it on my aircraft – and started my saga of delayed baggage with Lufthansa.
Are you struggling with lost baggage while flying Lufthansa? Read about my experience so you can find out how to track your delayed baggage, how quickly it may get to you, and more.
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Lost versus delayed baggage
Travelers tend to say their baggage was “lost” if it doesn’t make it to the final destination on time. For simplicity, I’m going to continue with that language in this article, but I do want to clarify that technically lost and delayed luggage are different.
The importance of travel insurance
Even if you are responsible and pack critical things in your carry-on (medicine, phone chargers, etc.), chances are you have a lot of important things in your checked baggage.
Just speaking as a woman, my luggage will contain my high-end toiletries, hair tools, spare clothing, and spare shoes at a minimum. Just losing the toiletries can be well over a hundred dollars!
Most airlines will reimburse you if your luggage is delayed, but I absolutely advocate for having independent travel insurance just in case.
I really like Squaremouth for travel insurance. I have used them dozens of times – including making claims a few times! – and the process has been relatively seamless. The best part is the filterable search option. My fave options? Primary medical and baggage delay!
How to file a lost baggage claim with Lufthansa
You need to go to airport services the moment you figure out your luggage didn’t make it to your final destination.
Do not call your boyfriend crying. Do not post an angry Tweet. Do not waste time making an Insta story. Go straight to airport services because the line is going to get long and time matters.
I was lucky and I had an AirTag in my bag so I knew before I even left Munich that my baggage didn’t make it on the aircraft. AirTags are like $25 a piece – if you have an iPhone, they are absolutely worth the money.
(Side note – I also have an AirTag passport holder, which eliminates all the random 3 am panicked wakeups wondering where my passport is!)
At Rome FCO, Lufthansa subcontracts for lost and delayed baggage. I immediately went there because, at take-off, my baggage clearly wasn’t on the plane with me. There was no need to wait at the baggage carousel to figure that out.
“Aviation Services” told me to fill out everything in the little kiosk on the right.
Voila – my luggage was marked as delayed and the search for my bag began.
Tracking your lost baggage with Lufthansa
To Lufthansa’s credit, they let me know when my luggage was loaded on an aircraft to Rome. I was hopeful that that meant I would get my luggage same-day, since the bag was only going to be literally a few hours delayed.
I was able to track my bag getting loaded on the aircraft in Munich, arriving in Rome….
… and languishing in Rome.
By the end of the day, it was pretty clear that I was not going to get my bag that day (peep the time in the upper lefthand corner!)
Lufthansa uses “Track My Bag” to, well… track bags!
Keep your delayed baggage claim receipt because you will use this to track your bag on this service.
My recommendation? Take a picture of the receipt.
Between the AirTag, luggage tracking service, and email communications with the baggage recovery service, I was able to generally keep tabs on my luggage. You can also find more resources on the Lufthansa website.
Retrieving my luggage after it arrived in Rome was really slow. When I communicated with Aviation Services I typically got close to no information. I asked when I could expect my bag to be delivered and I received one of the most Italian responses ever – “I do not know. Today is today. Tomorrow is tomorrow.”
AKA – we will get to it when we get to it.
My delayed baggage timeline
Retrieving my luggage felt like it took forever but, in practice, I was only delayed one day.
But! I went from expecting same-day delivery to preparing for 2-3 days for delivery. I felt like I was in the dark and wasted a lot of time trying to stay close to my hotel for whenever my baggage would get delivered.
The moral of the story?
It will take at least a day to get your baggage recovered. Check what your airline covers & what your travel insurance covers. Don’t “wait around” before you buy things. If you need clean underwear, a new shirt, or toiletries, buy one or two days worth – based on the allowances within your insurance.
I did NOT do this and ended up purchasing things just shortly before my baggage got delivered! Wasted effort, wasted time, wasted vacation days…. don’t repeat my same mistakes.
Lufthansa’s reimbursement process for delayed luggage
Honestly, Lufthansa was really good to work with for reimbursement.
I didn’t know how to contact Lufthansa so I just used the regular ‘ol “Contact” form on their website.
I included my claim number and the amount of time I waited for my baggage. I explained what items I had to purchase and even included something like $60 for a tour I had to miss to be around to collect my bags.
I had no back-and-forth with them at all – they agreed to settle my claim immediately!
They had asked me for my banking information for direct deposit which is apparently their norm. If that makes you uncomfortable (it made me uncomfortable!), you can just ask them to mail you a check.
Don’t forget to convert your claim to USD!
Tips for minimizing lost baggage pain
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already had a bad day and it’s too late to ake any of this advice – but on the off chance you’re preparing to travel internationally, this advice will reduce the consequences of lost or delayed luggage!
- Carry on a small bag that includes at least one full outfit, two pairs of socks, and two pairs of underwear. There is nothing worse than being stuck in your airplane clothes!
- If you are plus-sized, consider packing two outfits. Stores abroad are not as size-inclusive as stores in the US.
- Bring an extra pair of shoes in your carry-on! I wear comfortable shoes when I’m flying, at least, and there is nothing worse than inadequate shoes on cobblestone streets.
- Basic toiletries are cheap, and would be covered in the event your luggage is delayed, but do you really want to go searching for a toothbrush and deodorant in a foreign country? Throw those in your bag, too.