Lost luggage: How to prevent it from happening to you

HOUSTON – You know that excitement you feel when you plan a vacation, hop on the plane and land at your destination? Then that's all squashed as soon as you learn your airline lost your luggage!

It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does, you want answers and of course your stuff back!

But what about when you don't get answers, and you call the airline and they have no idea where your luggage is.

It happened to Michael Johnson who says he took the trip of a lifetime to Tokyo and Vietnam.

"I spent $2600 on that ticket. I had spent over a year saving for this trip. I had clothes made in Vietnam,  all handmade stuff," says Johnson.

But on his American Airlines flight home to Miami, he had to connect in Dallas where there's a bag re-check.

He handed over his bag, and never saw it again.  Everything from his trip, all of his treasured souvenirs, were gone.

"It was a lot of loss because it was a big trip, it is a month of traveling, a month of stuff," says Johnson.

Johnson then learned, if an airline loses your bag on a domestic trip, you are entitled to $3,400.
If lost on an international trip, the settlement limit is $1,500.
Johnson thought it was domestic, but it wasn't.
Based on an international agreement, that domestic flight was linked to an international trip, so Johnson only got the latter.

The latest report from the Department of Transportation shows Alaska, SkyWest and American Airlines have the highest rate of mishandled bags.
There are some simple things you can do to protect your luggage.

"If you can't afford to lose what's in your bags carry it on. The other option is to ship it. Just take the stuff and ship it separately so then you are not dealing with airlines and the baggage limits and the inventories. You ship and you insure it and it ends up where it is supposed to," says Michael Flynn, NSU Consumer Protection Law Professor.

Another good thing to do in this situation, contact the airline, file a formal complaint and be persistent.
You might not get your bag back but they can sweeten the pot.

American Airlines initially gave Johnson a $300 voucher, but since he's shared his story, the company gave him a $500 voucher and 50,000 air miles, which might be enough for another round trip to Asia.
Click here to file a complaint.