Losing Your Luggage
Losing your luggage is up there with being cut off from the aeroplane minibar as one of the worst things that can happen to you when you fly. Once the baggage carousel gets to its eighth rotation without any sight of your beaten-up suitcase, the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach can turn to pure dread, especially if you ignored your mum’s advice to pack extra undies in your hand luggage. But having experienced this travelling disaster a bunch of times, it is not as bad as it seems, and is in fact an excellent opportunity to scab a wealth of free shit you never would normally have been able to afford.
If you’ve already been informed by a air hostess with nervous sweats that your luggage was left behind or put on the wrong flight, once you land, go through customs as normal. Near your flight’s luggage collection will be a booth called ‘Baggage Handling’ or ‘Lost Baggage’ or something equally as self-explanatory. You simply need to fill out a form about what your bag looked like and give them your phone number and a forwarding address – they will do the rest, and it is up to them to deliver it to your door and shoulder all the expenses. Even better, your airline will give you a slip of paper with an address to send all your receipts to (usually up to $100AUD) for all “necessities” that you will now need to replace. If you are a fashionable hobo and decided to sacrifice packing necessities like shampoo and conditioner in favour of extra clothing, this is the perfect opportunity to get your hands on a wealth of free upmarket toiletries and designer underwear that you never had to begin with. You’ll even be able to pass off duty free perfume and a bottle of St Tropez fake tan as “essentials”.
Best of all, you don’t have to lug your bag to your place of accommodation, which, let’s face it, probably doesn’t even have a lift because it’s one star. The first time I lost my suitcase was on a QANTAS flight from Australia to London, where I took full advantage of their 23kg maximum and packed my bag until it was bursting at the seams. My connecting flight to Berlin was with a budget airline with a very strict limit of 20kg. So thanks to my lost bag at Heathrow, I saved around 60 euro on excess baggage. It then happened to me again on a flight from London to Reno, which was even better because by that point of the trip my suitcases weighed a combined total of 60kg (a perfectly acceptable weight in the eyes of an American airline – typical).
If you travel a lot, you are bound to lose your luggage one day, so there are a few precautions you can take to make sure you can make the most out of the $100 compensation and suffer as little as possible. Pack at least five pairs of spare undies, bring your entire makeup bag with all essential toiletries and pack at least one change of clothes. This includes a change of shoes in case your feet swell up on the plane from not taking the recommended in-cabin exercises seriously and you get blisters. Above all, be sure to keep your receipts. You can’t claim what you can’t prove. So next time your suitcase goes MIA, keep a horror-stricken and devastated expression on your face so as to evoke maximum sympathy from the airline staff, but on the inside, silently cheer.
Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps in her van and drinking red wine through a (bamboo) straw.