I lost my two bags during my long (40 +hr) travel. One bag was later found but the other is still missing. The local Airline staff (Etihad) says I cannot file a claim since I lost the bag stickers. They did let me file a courtesy lost baggage claim on arrival which really means it is only courtesy and I cannot claim the lost luggage if not found. My question is, since everything is computerized, can they trace my lost luggage TAGs, or may be trace it from the one that was already found? Can I file a claim when I lost the stickers itself?
Etihad has Conditions of carriage listed that you agree to by buying a ticket. Section "15.2 BAGGAGE" states the maximum values of claims that can be done, please refer to this section for the amount that you can claim.
The "8.8 COLLECTION AND DELIVERY OF CHECKED BAGGAGE" section states that:
8.8.2 Only the bearer of the Baggage Check and Baggage Identification Tag is entitled to delivery of the Checked Baggage. We accept no responsibility for checking the identity or authority of the bearer of the Baggage Check and Baggage Identification Tag or for checking that such person has any right to collection.
8.8.3 If a person claiming Checked Baggage is unable to produce the Baggage Check and identify the Baggage by means of a Baggage Identification Tag, we will deliver the Baggage to such person only on condition that he or she establishes to our satisfaction his or her right to the Baggage.
So essentially, you agreed that you cannot receive the luggage from them (lost and found or as a normal luggage transport from the belt) if you do not either have the tag or proof that the luggage is yours.
However, section "15.4 PROCESSING OF BAGGAGE CLAIMS" does require you to provide proof of purchase for the items you wish to get a refund for, but does not explicitly require you to have a luggage tag to process the claim as such.
They should process your claim and search for the luggage and also refund you if you can produce the proof of purchase for the lost items.
Please note that there are many factors in this topic such as where you live, if this was a code share or not and so on. Further, a lot of items are often excluded from claims such as laptops and valuables. You might want to discuss first with the airline for what you want to have a claim, if they will refund the lost items in the first place according to their rules and then check if it is worthwhile to proceed with a claims process. If you cannot claim refunds for any of the items lost since you do not have proof of purchase or if the items are excluded anyhow, a claim process might not be meaningful in the first place.
IF they claim that they do not have to run a claims process for you, ask them about the policy and where this regulation is stated. Their conditions of carriage on their website do not allow the conclusion that a tag is required for a claim process.