It’s every traveler’s nightmare: you’re waiting at baggage claim, watching everyone else get their luggage. The baggage carousel stops, and you’re now facing the reality that your luggage has been lost. Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world. More often than not, your airline will be able to track down your baggage. But make sure you do the following three things when your bags are lost to help the process along.

Go To Baggage Claim As Soon As Possible

Before you even suspect your luggage has been lost, go directly to your assigned baggage claim carousel. This minimizes the time that your bags are sitting on the conveyor belt, giving potential thieves less opportunities to walk off with your bags.

Most of the bigger airports now scan bags as they enter the baggage claim area so there should be records of your bags being there.

Try Not To Panic

If your luggage isn’t showing up, try not to panic. Just like all of the airplanes landing and taking off while you’re at the airport, there are going to be unavoidable delays with so things being transported from one area to another.

Most likely, your luggage has been misplaced, not lost. If it’s on another flight, then you’ll just wait until it arrives to claim your luggage. If it’s been sent to the wrong airport, then it may take another day or two. Thankfully, you won’t have to go back to the airport; the airline will take your bags to your home or your hotel.

Get A Written Claim For Damages

If your luggage has been lost, then submit a written claim for damages. A total of $3,500 per passenger can be claimed, but you may have to produce receipts if you’re claiming that much.

Don’t forget that there are some items that the airline is not responsible for, such as jewelry, money, and other valuables. These should always be kept on you or in your carry-on bag.