As meticulous as you may be when planning your bike getaways, there’s no accounting for the concerning situation of your luggage not arriving when you do. If you’re travelling with your bike, this can be doubly stressful as not only do you face the possibility of never seeing your much loved machine again, you also need to find a ride for the remainder of your trip.
Lost luggage is more likely to occur during transfers to different airlines or between planes. However, your luggage can also disappear between check-in and loading if not labelled correctly.
Equally impactful on your cycling holiday is a luggage delay, meaning you miss out on valuable days in the saddle.
We’ve been there, so decided to put together the following advice to help you navigate the nightmare of lost or delayed luggage and help you to know your rights.
When an airline loses your hold luggage, it is liable and must reimburse you. However, the rules around the amount of reimbursement are patchy and vary by region, with the maximum amount often around £1,000/€1.100/$1,300 – most likely not enough to cover the cost of your bike and bike bag or case.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to take out travel insurance before you travel and check the small print to ensure that baggage is covered to a sufficient amount. Although there will be an excess fee to pay, a good insurance company will take up your claim with the airline and make any necessary payments. There is usually a time limit in which you are able to make insurance claims so be aware of this and take your insurance information with you on holiday so you have everything ready should the worst happen.
In the first instance, to avoid having to pay an insurance excess, it’s best to contact the airline the moment you realise your luggage hasn’t arrived and see what they say. Many airline policies expect passengers to wait 30 minutes before reporting lost luggage but may also require any missing items to be reported within 24 hours of landing. Airport-based airline staff are often employed by a separate company from the airline so, whilst you may have some luck with the baggage services team in arrivals, you may find you get a faster and more informed response by calling the airline’s customer services phone number.
Labelling your luggage with contact details on a tag such as name, home address and email address is simple and easy. It could, however, be the one thing that reunites you with your bike further down the line – so get that permanent marker pen out!
When claiming for a lost bag, if you have flown with two different airlines (or more) during one journey, it would usually be the final airline that would handle the claim.
Whether you claim through insurance or directly from the airline, you will probably be required to produce evidence (such as receipts) of the worth of the lost items.
As frustrating and disruptive to your holiday as the delayed arrival of your luggage may be, airlines will only reimburse you for the essentials if your luggage is significantly delayed. This will include toiletries, underwear and laundry costs. If possible, pack a set of your cycling kit and shoes in your hand luggage. This may prove to be the thing that saves your holiday as it’s often possible to rent a bike at short notice if you’re heading to an area frequented by cyclists.
Airlines often have a daily rate they’ll pay out in the event of delayed luggage but this is unlikely to cover much more than the minimum you need to stay clothed and hygienic – it certainly won’t stretch to cover bike hire. Some bike or travel insurance policies will cover this retrospectively in the event of a claim.
Airlines will generally refuse to pay for any financial losses which occur due to delayed or lost luggage. To put that in cycling terms, if you’ve entered an event for which you’ll need your bike but your bike hasn’t arrived in time for you to take part, the airline won’t reimburse you the entry fee. You may be able to recoup this cost through legal action but this is something that some insurance policies cover so, again, it pays to take out a thorough insurance policy and to read the small print.
Not yet travelling with a SCICON bike bag or bike case? Visit the shop to find your perfect bicycle travel companion.