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Lisbon Airport Lost Luggage: How to Retrieve Your Delayed Bags

Find out how to navigate Lisbon Airport lost luggage. Discover how to retrieve your delayed bags in Lisbon as quickly and easily as possible.

We've all been there. You debark a flight and head to baggage claim. After a while, the belt starts turning and the crowds slowly start to be reunited with their checked baggage. 

We all hope our bags will be the first ones out. No luck... The flow of bags ramps up to its maximum, but your checked bags have still not appeared. 

Before long, the crowds have dissipated and you realize: your bags are lost, or "delayed" as the airlines like to euphemistically say.

I was recently delayed for 24 hours when flying from San Francisco to Lisbon due to a connecting flight cancellation in Frankfurt. I made it home the next day, but my bags did not. I've personally had to deal with reporting and reclaiming lost luggage at Lisbon Airport.

Outside Humberto Delgado Airport in Lisbon

Take heart: Did you know that 97% of "lost" or "delayed" checked bags are ultimately reunited with their owners. Lost bags are typically found and returned to their owners within two days. Lost baggage may be vexing and inconvenient, but you can take heart in this statistic.

Do you also find yourself in a position where you need to deal with Lisbon Airport lost luggage? Let me share some tips on how to navigate delayed baggage reporting and reclaim in Lisbon Airport.

What to do at Lisbon Airport Baggage Claim?

Keep an eye on the monitors above your baggage claim belt at Lisbon Airport. You'll see a cue when the first bags drop and again when the last bag is delivered. If your bags are lost, first mover advantage is key so you don't end up waiting hours in a long line to file a claim. 

Step 1: look for an airline or airport representative. I found a lady handing out flyers with a QR code. I was able to scan the QR Code with my phone and file my claim online thus avoiding the frustration of queuing for 1:1 help.

Step 2: If there is no representative at the belt, head to the customer service area in Lisbon Airport behind baggage claim belt number 9. Take a number or talk to the receptionist to help you get your number. Ask if there is a way to file your claim online. If not, wait here until your number comes up.

Make sure you have filed a lost luggage report before you leave the secure area of Lisbon Airport since you won't be able to return to this area to seek help.

You'll receive a case number by email with a link to check the status of your lost baggage claim. I was flying Lufthansa and all the emails came from Lufthansa. I checked the link every few hours. I received updates when my bags were located and again with a estimate of what flight they would be on.

Screenshot of an email from Lufthansa: "Your delayed baggage has been registered"
Screenshot of an email from Lufthansa: "We have located your delayed baggage"
Screenshot of an email from Lufthansa: "Your delayed baggage has arrived at the airport and is ready for collection"
For me, the airline claimed that my bags would arrive on a TAP Portugal flight a day later, but it was actually 3 days before my delayed bags arrived in Lisbon from Frankfurt and I got a text saying they were ready for pick-up.

Should You Pick Up Your Bags or Have Them Delivered?

When you file your lost luggage claim either online or at Lisbon Airport, you'll have the option to have you bags delivered to you or to pick them up at the airport. Delivery is definitely the more convenient option, but you might have to wait longer for the courier to bring the bags to you. 

For example, on a trip to Santorini, our bags were "delayed". When they arrived at our destination, it was too late for delivery service, but we were able to drive to the airport and pick up the bags that same day.

I live in Lisbon, but was leaving on a holiday road trip in the Algarve less than 24 hours after returning from the U.S. In theory, I could have asked to have my bags forwarded to Faro. 

Green and blue suitcase outside the airport

However, I recognized that this added additional operational complexity. Frankly, I was worried that my bags would be lost or delayed again if they needed to be transported on another flight from Lisbon to Faro. 

I decided to have Groundforce Portugal (the local vendor that deals with lost luggage from a wide array of airlines) hold my bags at Lisbon Airport until I returned from my vacation. 

I was told at the Groundforce kiosk at the airport that they could hold my bags for up to 28 days with no problem.

How to Escalate a Delayed Bag Claim?

I always feel impatient and helpless when I am dealing with lost luggage. I feel like I have to do something. If you aren't getting answers about the status of your bags, you have a few options to escalate. 
  1. Call your airline, especially if you have frequent flyer status. They may be able to help escalate your case at the airport.
  2. Stop by the Groundforce kiosk (near the Vodafone shop) in Lisbon Airport (outside of security). I did this when the online report said my bags were supposed to be on a flight to Lisbon, but in reality they were still waiting in Frankfurt. It can be reassuring to talk to a real person. The person I spoke to assured me that the bags would likely arrive in the next couple of days. Lufthansa was experiencing staff shortages in Frankfurt which was contributing to the delay.
  3. Escalate via social media. I've found that I get faster customer service by DM'ing the airline on Twitter than I do by calling.
Christmas decorations at Lisbon Airport. Photo taken from the Groundforce kiosk

How to Pick Up Your Bags at Lisbon Airport

When your delayed checked bags are found and arrive at Lisbon Airport, you'll receive a text message from WorldTracer indicating that your bags are ready to be picked up.

Make sure bring the following items:
  1. Your passport - you'll need this to get back through security to pick up your bags.
  2. Your boarding pass - I brought all of them...from my original, cancelled flight and the flight I actually took.
  3. Your baggage claim stubs - the little sticky receipts that you get when you check in your bags have various codes and routing information that are helpful.
When you get to Lisbon Airport to reclaim your baggage head to the Groundforce kiosk next to the Vodafone store. It's close to the airport entrance that you would naturally access if you are arriving via the Lisbon Metro.

I arrived on Christmas Day to pick up my bags and had to wait about 15 minutes at the Groundforce kiosk. The representative checked my claim number and documentation and then gave me a form to take through security.

tiled wall and elevated path with trees outside Lisbon Airport

They direct you to go in through the door where everyone comes out of baggage claim (it feels very unnatural to do this, I have to say). To your left when you enter, you'll see a security guard at a small podium. 

Show your paperwork and passport to the security guard. They will then direct you to the customer service desk behind baggage claim 9. 

When you get to the Lisbon Airport lost property area (aka the "lost and found"), grab a number. Note, if it's a busy day and lots of bags have been delayed, keep an eye on the flow of things. I noticed that some people were jumping the queue. 

The airport representatives were trying to be helpful by having people waiting to pick up bags queue up in a separate area independent of what number they had. There were sort of two processes running in parallel. 

I had to escalate to ensure that folks with lower numbers got taken care of first. Two ladies from Brazil who were trying to catch a connecting flight were extremely grateful to me for my escalation. They blew me kisses as they happily were reunited with their bags. 

After waiting for about 45 minutes, I was able to find someone to help me. I gave him the paper that the Groundforce kiosk had given to me. He disappeared for about 10 minutes. 

When he returned my two bags were in tow! He walked with me to the baggage claim exit (showing my paperwork to the security guard once more). 

There is no finer feeling than being reunited with your lost bags!

Double rainbow over Lisbon Airport

How to Minimize the Pain of Potential Lost Bags Before Your Trip?

I travel a lot and always hope that nothing will happen to my bags. Then again, hope is not a strategy (as my Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) colleagues are fond of saying). 

In the spirit of applying SRE principles to a travel emergency (although a minor emergency in this case), I have a few pieces of advice on things that you can do before your trip to minimize the pain and drama of lost luggage. 
  1. Take photos of your bags. You'll be asked to provide a thorough description if your bags are delayed. Photos can remind you of the size, color, and other distinguishing features (e.g., a distinctive luggage tag). Bonus points if you take a photo of the contents of your bag before you close and lock them. This is helpful if you need to file a claim with your airline if your bags are not eventually found.
  2. Make sure your contact information is on the bag both inside and out. I have a luggage tag on the outside of each bag with my name, email address, phone number, and mailing address. I also throw a business card or two inside each bag.
  3. Pack a change of clothes and critical toiletries and medicines in your carry-on bag. Make sure to pack something to sleep in. If your bags do get lost and you are away from home, you'll be a little more comfortable at least.
Suitcase with a blue tote bag on top. A black backpack sits on a bench behind the other two bags
I hope you never find yourself in a position where you need to navigate retrieval of lost luggage at Lisbon Airport. That said, it's better to be prepared!

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Lisbon Airport Lost Luggage: How to Retrieve Your Delayed Bags
Lisbon Airport Lost Luggage: How to Retrieve Your Delayed Bags
Find out how to navigate Lisbon Airport lost luggage. Discover how to retrieve your delayed bags in Lisbon as quickly and easily as possible.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog