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When an Airline Lost My Luggage

When an Airline Lost My Luggage

Day one on our South Africa trip began with our airline losing our luggage. What did I do when an airline lost my luggage? Here is our story of our luggage being lost, and waiting for it to be found, and how we got it back.

I should preface this by saying that this is a happy-ending story. Not every story with lost luggage ends like this. You can take steps to ensure you track your luggage at all times. I follow the rule that I do not put anything valuable in my check-in luggage. Everything I care most about is in my carry-on. Things I can replace go into my check-in luggage.

When I Knew the Airline Lost My Luggage

I had an idea this would happen. How? Well, our route to South Africa began in South Korea. We were flying from Seoul, South Korea into Hong Kong. From there, we would fly to Johannesburg, South Africa and finally to Cape Town shortly after this. When we landed in Hong Kong, we had two and a half hours to get to our connecting flight.

When our flight into Hong Kong was delayed, I figured it would be tricky to make our connecting flight. Two and a half hours was already pushing it for a connecting international flight. When we landed, we had less then one hour. With the announcement of our seats having priority to get off the plane and meet a representative of the airline at the exit gate, we knew then and there that we MAY make it to our connecting flight, but our luggage may not.

We followed the airline representative with our carry-ons in tow and were rushed through the ticketing counter and to our gate JUST in time. With only minutes to spare before the gate closed. There, we made it very clear to the gate attendant that our luggage was still probably being unloaded from the previous flight and asked whether it would make it. She assured us it would, but the assurance did not settle us. Here we had two choices. Wait for our luggage and miss our flight or get on the flight and hope that our luggage was rushed to the airplane like we had been.

It was an easy decision to get on the plane, but this was when we figured there may be a problem to solve when we landed.

Sure enough, we landed with three hours to reach our domestic connection from Johannesburg to Cape Town and waited by the carousel for our luggage to arrive. And we waited. And waited. And waited. With another fellow who we recognized that was rushed through the Hong Kong airport to our connecting flight. The airline lost my luggage.

First step was to ask an attendant there if the luggage from our flight was finished on the carousel. It was, so we asked where we should go for lost luggage. Time was running out before our next flight, so we were in rush mode.

We arrived at the counter and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Until finally, we reached the counter. Just a disclaimer. If you do lose your luggage, be kind to these people at the counter. They are people too. They did not lose your luggage. We quickly described our situation, the lady at the counter did her searching on the computer and stated that our luggage was in fact still in Hong Kong and it would be loaded on the next available flight and available for us in two days.

Okay, so two days was not too bad. We knew the things we absolutely needed to buy and figured we could wear our clothes for a couple days or get some new clothing. At least they knew where our luggage was. After providing our phone number (we had already received a South African phone number in advance, which we highly recommend doing) and our host’s address where we were luckily staying three nights at, we were on our way in hope that we would see our luggage again.

That night we made it to a shopping mall to get the necessities: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and some grocery shopping which we would have needed regardless of our luggage being lost. The following day we hiked up Table Mountain with our phone on hoping for the phone call to arrive to say our luggage was ready for us. No call that day, but after the hike it became very clear that we needed a change of clothing. That night we did more shopping to change our smelly clothing and hoped that tomorrow would be the day we would see our lost luggage.

The day dragged on with no phone call. We tried calling the airline to no avail. It seems to be extremely difficult to get a hold of an airline to find your luggage. You are left waiting on hold while somebody on the other line tries to figure out where to transfer your call to and how they may find your luggage. At this point in the day, about mid-afternoon, we were beginning to worry we would never see our luggage again.

Finally, the call came. Our luggage was being delivered that night! It was here! It had arrived! Our host would receive it, and we would once again have fresh clothing and all of our necessities. Not a fun experience, but one that every traveler may experience at some point in their travels. If it ever happens to you, remain calm, ensure that your flight’s luggage is finished on the carousel, report your missing luggage before moving on to your next flight or leaving the luggage claim area, and make sure they have your contact information or your host’s contact information and address. If you can, get a number that you can call to check in on your luggage. Hope this information helps you in your travels!


Have a comment or something to add to this article? Leave a comment below or send us a response by contacting us.


Check out more from our experiences in South Africa here.

Happy travels!

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  1. Glad your luggage was finally delivered to you. Loosing luggage is a nightmare. And I know people who could never get it back. Yes, the insurance covers everything, but still its a loss. Hope it never happens to anyone. Thanks for the tips on what to do if someone comes in that situation.

  2. Missing luggage is very much a reality that we have faced some time or the other. Luckily we have been spared this. Though we did have a scare in Rome, when we did not find our baggage on the belt. We reported immediately to the airline service desk who magically found it. So all was well there.

  3. It is a nightmare to lose all your valuables especially when traveling. I always carry the essential in my cabin luggage. I am glad that you remained calm and composed and got your luggage back. Lucky you!

  4. It is so scary when your luggage is lost after a long tiring journey in a flight. Though you got luggage afterwards, but then you have to wait for your necessities stuff so long and also have to call airlines many times. So much follow-ups and not having the bare necessites just ruins the next day. Informative tips on what do to if we lost our luggage!

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