Very interesting to see myself quoted!
They rarely lose the bag forever, you usually get it a day or so later. If they do lose it forever (it does happen), the rules for compensation for foreign travel is a little different than domestic compensation- it goes by wait and the max you get for a 70lb bag is in the neighborhood of US$ 700. I did have someone tell me that when they lost their bags, they were able to neogiate a better compensation package because they weren't the typical tourist losing bags, but that there was a greater impact because they were expats (though I think this did become a legal matter, so I guess it depends on how serious you want to get)
Someone noted that if you get the JFK early enough and on the non-stop to GND, you always get your bags--not so, said roommate lost her bags on the non-stop, they were "overcarried" back to JFK, because they weren't removed from the plane(it returns to JFK) and evidently this is a common enough problem because there was a note ON the bag saying that baggage handlers need to double check for accidental overcarriage!!
Come July 2013- Endocrinology Fellow
ABIM certified, fully licensed, IM
ValueMD-the place "where nothing makes sense, but everything is related-fellow vmd'r gabon