I Can't Find My Bags!: The Top Tips to Avoid Losing Checked Luggage
While it’s true that airlines are doing better about preventing lost checked luggage, that’s little comfort to you if your bags seem to fall through the cracks.
The excitement of a trip can come to a screeching halt if your bags take a different vacation than the one you planned. But there are things you can do to put the checked luggage odds in your favor.
Let’s look at several things you can do to avoid losing your checked bags.
Clearly Label – Inside and Out
If you want to make sure your suitcase makes it way back to you every time you travel, you’ll want to label it with your info. Yet, (here’s the plot twist most people don’t see coming) you’ll not only want to label each piece of luggage on the outside but on the inside as well.
On the outside of your suitcase, hang a luggage tag. This tag should include your name, address, phone number, and email address. It’s also not a bad idea to slip the address and phone number of your destination hotel right behind it.
And mini tags are perfect to attach to the inside of your suitcase. That way, if anything should happen to the outside tag, your info is still fastened inside. And always make sure to attach it in plain view.
Double Check at Check-In
To avoid losing any checked luggage, head off any issues from the get-go at check-in.
While it may be tempting, don’t use curbside check-in. It’s best to walk your luggage in and check it in yourself. That way you can see it head off to your flight with your own eyes.
Also, ask the counter agent if you can double check the routing information they place on your luggage handle. Especially if you have a connecting flight. And clarify if your luggage is checked through to your final destination or if you’ll have to recheck it at your connection.
Make It Stand Out
Nothing is worse than standing at baggage claim and having to pick out your black suitcase from the sea of other black suitcases on the same flight. Not only is it frustrating, but it can also lead to someone misidentifying your bag as theirs… and they walk right out with it.
So make your luggage stand out from the crowd! Use brightly colored luggage tags, straps, or ribbons to make your suitcase look uniquely you.
It’s also a great identifier to report in case the worst should happen and your luggage does go missing.
Get Rid of Old Airline Tags
Airlines not only attach routing information tags on your luggage handles, but bar code stickers are stuck on the outside of your suitcase. And if you don’t remove them from a previous trip, your luggage could get scanned to the wrong destination.
Examine your suitcase before AND after you pack it. Remove all routing tags and bar code stickers before you get to the airport. Not only will it save your luggage from ending up in the wrong place, it saves time at check-in as well – that’s a win-win.
Take a Picture
If your luggage goes missing, a picture really can be worth a thousand words. So take a picture to keep with you!
Snap photos of your luggage from all angles, making sure to include all colorful identifiers. Then keep a digital copy in your phone and have a printed copy stored with your travel documents.
That way, you can show the airlines exactly what to look for and you can leave the hard-copy picture with them for reference.
Another way to avoid losing your checked luggage is to not check it at all. Make it a carry-on only trip!
Not only will carry-on ensure your bags stay with you at all times, it can save you in overpriced airline checked bags fees.
But many people need the extra storage that checked bags provide. Especially if they’re going on a long trip or a family vacation. If that’s the case, place all important items and things you’ll need right away in your carry-on… just in case.
Pack Your Itinerary
In the fight against lost luggage, you want to make sure you cover all your bases. So even if you have luggage tags attached, placing a copy of your trip itinerary inside your bag will help even more.
That’s because there’s always a chance the airline won’t be able to get a hold of you. And you want them to know exactly when and where you’ll be.
Having a copy of your itinerary will give them the information they need to get your luggage to you as quickly as possible.
Avoid Short Layovers
When time is in short supply, mistakes can happen. That’s why having short layovers can increase the chance your luggage doesn’t make it onto your connecting flight.
Short layovers give baggage handlers limited time to route your luggage to the correct flight. And if there’s a delay or mechanical issues with equipment, that precious time gets slashed.
If getting a direct flight isn’t possible, make sure your connection gives plenty of buffer time to avoid headaches.
Prepare Your Suitcase
Before you head to the airport, check out the condition of your luggage. Are any of the straps broken? Are there any loose pieces?
Airports have complex systems of conveyor belts that luggage travels across. And if there is anything on your bag that could get snagged or stuck on machinery, it could prevent it from making your flight on time.
Repair anything that is loose or broken. Or buy a new suitcase. You don’t want something as simple and preventable as a loose luggage strap be the reason you make it to your vacation without your bags.
Put the Checked Luggage Odds in Your Favor
Sure, mistakes can happen. But you don’t have to let them happen to you! Taking steps to make sure your checked luggage is waiting for you on the baggage carousel will save you headaches on your next trip.
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- Steve Wilson