Travellers cannot be counted. Numbers can be staggering. But if stats are to be believed at any given moment, there are 500,000 people in the air. Everyday 0.01 percent of the world’s population catches a flight. How many of them are actually ready for a possible bad day? Lost passport? Stolen bag? Delayed flight? Damaged luggage? Credit card skimmed? Here are a few smart travel backup tips.
Document back-up: Keep a photocopy of the front/back pages of the passport as well as visa of the visiting country. Also, archive the passport, visa documents in your email. This comes in very handy if, God forbid, your passport gets lost/stolen. Save the documents also in Google Drive and make sure you make it available offline. Contact your country’s local embassy - most embassies have an emergency number which is available beyond regular office hours. Always travel with 4-5 passport-size copies of your recent photograph. Share your itinerary: Save a copy of your itinerary on Cloud/Google Drive. Email a copy (including pre-booked hotel/taxis/sightseeing) to yourself and a friend/family member who is easily reachable over phone/email/Whatsapp. Credit Card emergency: Sounds nightmarish, but credit cards can get stolen during travel. With internet banking facility, you can block the card online with a click. If not, call up the bank’s Customer Care immediately. Remember, a few banks do not have 24x7 Customer Care facility. Check the timings and save the bank’s emergency contact number on your phone.
Also, be careful of credit card cloning/skimming. According to a new report by KIS Finance, Spain, the USA, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland are the five worst counties in the world for card fraud. Be careful and block the card instantly.
Luggage photograph: Take a photo of your checked-in luggage and baggage stub (in case you lose it) and store it in your phone. If your baggage is stolen, the Airline Baggage counter might ask the colour/size/brand of luggage. Having a photograph is better than answering a million questions about what your bag looks like. Delayed luggage: Bags getting lost can be the worst nightmare but it happens very often. Immediately head to the lost-baggage counter of the airline, handover your baggage stub (write down the number and keep it). Do not leave the airport without informing the airline (a few airlines have a reporting time of within 4-hour arrival). It is the airlines’ job to deliver your bag to your home/hotel/resort. You do not have to return to the airport to pick it.
Check at the Airline Baggage counter whether they provide basic toiletries and/or compensate monetarily for the delay. There is no standard rule on this but a few airlines offer compensation. Also, check with your travel insurance company about delayed-baggage compensation.
Lost luggage: Airlines do not have a standard textbook rule about lost luggage but the definition of lost is based on the Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention and simply means ‘a bag you will never see again’. If an airline cannot get your bag within a week, you can assume it is lost. However, the airline has to declare it as ‘lost’, after which you can file a claim for monetary compensation. It is a tedious process but keep chasing, keep negotiating a compensation. If you are checking in something valuable, buy ‘excess valuation’ from the airline before boarding the flight. Damaged luggage: Bags gets tossed around at airports. If your bag is damaged, take a photo of the damaged parts/areas and head to the Baggage Counter. Most airlines do not pay for scratches, dents, bumps but will pay for major repairs. Check for airline-sanctioned luggage repair vendors. Keep receipts of repairs done. However, if the bag is damaged so much that it is unusable, ask for an immediate replacement. You can also email the airline’s Customer Care for compensation. Delayed/cancelled flight: If your flight is delayed by three hours, do not expect mercy or food voucher. But if the delay is long or if the flight is cancelled, you are entitled to food vouchers, discounts, refunds, or a hotel stay if the flight delay is the airline’s fault. Read the airlines’ Contract of Carriage. A few credit cards also offer compensation if you have paid for your ticket with that card.
According to the Montreal Convention, a treaty that covers most international travel, if you can prove that the international flight delay has caused financial loss you are entitled to financial compensation.
Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer. Read her columns