The plane has landed and you are on your way for an adventure of a lifetime. You’ve cleared immigration and all that’s left to do is pick up your luggage and you can begin your exploration. But when you get to the luggage carousel where your luggage, as well as the luggage of your fellow passengers, is supposed to go, it is empty.
Before you panic and wonder if something happened to your luggage, take a deep breath and let calm down. Chances are, your luggage is still being unloaded.
If you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to get your luggage after landing, you’ve come to the right place. This article will share some insights on how long it takes before you can claim your luggage as well as what to do if your luggage doesn’t show up or you are unable to claim it right away.
How Long Does It Usually Take To Get Checked Luggage After Landing?
While it varies per airline and airport, in general, passengers can expect to pick up their checked luggage anywhere between 15 to 45 minutes after arrival.
Of course, this will depend on a variety of things. If you are flying with a lot of passengers who are bringing a lot of luggage, there’s a chance that your luggage might be delayed as it will take some time to offload everything. If it is a smaller airport and there are a lot of flights that have landed around the same time that the plane you’re flying with landed, you can expect some delays too.
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What To Do if Your Checked Luggage Doesn’t Show Up
If, after waiting by the luggage carousel until the last passenger has picked up their bags, but yours hasn’t come out yet, don’t panic just yet! There are three possible options:
- Your luggage got left behind at the airport you flew out of
- Your luggage was left behind on the plane or got lost while on the way to the luggage carousel
- Someone accidentally got your luggage
While you want to avoid these two scenarios as much as possible, sometimes, life happens and you find yourself facing unexpected scenarios. If ever you find yourself in a situation like this, here’s what you can do:
Be Patient and Stay Calm
Sometimes, luggage doesn’t arrive at the luggage carousel in one go. Sometimes, it will take some time to transport them from the airplane onto the carousel, especially if there is a lot of baggage or if the airport is understaffed.
In times like this, panicking won’t do anything. It can be tempting to lash out when things go wrong but remember that airport staff doesn’t intentionally lose your luggage. Sometimes, these mishaps happen, but everyone is trying to do their job the best they can.
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Look at Other Luggage Carousels
Sometimes, in the rush of things, as airport staff offload luggage from a plane and take them to the luggage carousel, things can get messed up. You might want to check with the other luggage carousels in case your luggage took an earlier flight or was accidentally placed in another luggage carousel.
Report Missing Luggage
If, after checking the other luggage carousels, you still can’t find your bag, it’s time to alert the airline. Approach the airline baggage desk and tell them about your problem. Usually, they will be able to radio the other airport staff about your missing luggage in case the others are able to spot it.
File a Missing Baggage Report
If they can’t find it even if they’ve combed every inch of the airport, you need to file a missing baggage report. Usually, this requires you to fill out every information you have about your bag as well as your travel plans. If you can, provide as detailed a description of your bag as possible. Describe the color and material of the bag, the brand, and any other identifying tags that might be on it.
Pro tip: Make sure to write your contact details on your luggage tag and, if you can, add another identifying tag to your bag so it’s easy to spot, such as a colored scarf or tag.
Ask the Airline What They Will Cover
Usually, airlines are willing to provide compensation for your bag. They will often provide you with amenity kits and reimburse you to some extent, especially when they learn that your luggage was left behind. You’ll also need to leave your local address so they can send it to you when it arrives.
In case your luggage is nowhere to be found, you can still ask the airline what they will cover. If, however, they find that it should have been offloaded and you strongly suspect that someone else accidentally picked it up, there’s not much you can do other than hope they contact you and return it to you. That’s why placing your details onto the luggage tag can be very important too.
Pro tip: Sometimes, if the airline discovers that they did accidentally leave your luggage behind, they will try to ask you if you can return to the airport to pick up your luggage when it arrives. Do not agree, but instead politely and firmly decline. If your luggage didn’t arrive with you, it is now the airline’s responsibility to get it to you.
Tip: If you want to increase the chances of finding lost luggage, consider getting a GPS tracker, with which you can easily find out where is your checked luggage at any moment.
How To Know Where You’ll Have To Pick Up Your Luggage at the Airport?
When you land at the airport of your destination, you need to make your way to the baggage claim area. It’s easy to spot as most of the passengers you are flying with will be moving in the same direction. Most airports also have signages to point you where to go.
Right as you get to the baggage claim area or even before that, you’ll see the baggage carousel board which lists all the flights, and the carousel number which will contain those flights’ bags. Baggage carousels often have big, bold numbers so you can spot them right away and wait in line with the rest of the other passengers for your bags to appear.
Pro tip: Most flight attendants announce the carousel ID for your flight just as the passengers disembark. If you are not in a hurry to leave the plane, it might be worth staying and hearing where it is.
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What Happens if You Don’t Pick Up Your Checked Luggage From the Luggage Carousel on Time?
Let’s say, for some reason, you are unable to make it to the luggage carousel and when you finally do get there, it is silent and still. No more people milling around, waiting for their luggage to come out. No more luggage spinning around waiting for their owners to claim them.
Luggage that doesn’t get picked up on time is reclaimed by the airline staff who will try to figure out who it belongs to. They will check the bag tag and contact the owner and have the luggage delivered to them. If, however, there are no bag tags and they can’t identify it or get it to its owner, they’ll hold on to it for at least five more days in case someone comes to claim it.
After five days and the owner still hasn’t contacted them or come to claim their luggage, the luggage will go to the central warehouse of the airline where they will keep it for 60 more days in case someone does come to claim it. If at the end of 60 days no one comes to get it, they will donate the bag and all its items to charity or auction it along with other bags that share its fate.
Tip: Consider getting a colorful checked suitcase, so that it’s much easier to spot it on the luggage carousel. This also helps with finding lost luggage, as you can give a better description to the airline staff on how your suitcase looked like. The Samsonite Winfield 2 checked suitcase is a really well-made suitcase, and it’s offered in a variety of bright colors that still look professional.
How Long Does It Usually Take To Get Out of an International Airport After Landing?
It usually takes somewhere between 23-38 minutes from landing to exiting the airport. Of course, this depends on the airport, how big your flight is, how long it takes to clear immigration, and how many bags you need to claim from the luggage carousel. Nevertheless, if there are no hiccups, it should take you no more than 40 minutes to get out of the airport once your plane lands.
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Now that you know how long it takes for luggage to arrive, where to get it, and what to do in case you can’t find your luggage on the carousel, you are better equipped with contingency plans in case something goes wrong when you go on your trip. You’ll be able to better plan your itinerary from start to finish and you’ll be able to do what you can to avoid further delays so you can enjoy your whole trip without thinking of anything else.