When you travel, you want your bags to travel with you. Follow these tips from travel professionals on how not to lose your luggage.
The major airlines today have invested in advanced baggage tracing technology, so reuniting passengers with luggage is much quicker and more efficient. Luckily, most delayed bags will catch up with their owners within hours (usually the next flight) and the airline will deliver the bags by courier.
It’s encouraging that an astonishingly small fraction of a percent of all checked luggage is permanently lost.
As a passenger, you can take certain precautions that can help the airlines return your bag or forgotten items.
Follow these tips from travel professionals whenever you travel:
1 Value your valuables, hold em’ close.
It’s important to remember that traveling has inherent risks. It’s never prudent to pack (or in some cases, even take along) expensive items or belongings that are hard or impossible to replace.
Valuables should be kept with you as you travel. These items include prescriptions, travel documents and cash, as well as jewelry. Upscale catalogs and retail travel stores offer numerous products to conceal valuables, such as money belts.
If the nature of your travel demands that you routinely take expensive clothing, equipment or other items, be sure you cover their replacement value under a policy you buy in addition to the automatic, limited coverage that may be provided by the airline. Check with your own insurance company for this protection, or buy excess valuation coverage on-line or at the ticket counter.
2 Stick your name ON it.
Bag tags are required, but they can be torn off. Some suitcases have a slide-in window about the size of a business card for secondary identification. Consider these when shopping for a new suitcase.
Some travelers put their identification on their bag tags when they purchase luggage and never think about it again. Airlines sometimes discover the owner of the bag has not lived at the address on the tag for many years. Make sure your bag tags are up to date.
3 Put your name IN it.
Put additional identification inside your bag, including a copy of your itinerary. This can help the airlines know whether to send your bags to your travel destination or your home.
With stricter conditions on carry-on baggage, you may find suitcases and hanging bags you previously were able to take on board will need to be checked. That’s why it’s smart to take precautions to make sure every bag, even the ones you plan to keep with you on the plane, have your contact information – inside and outside the bag.
4 Mark your name on EVERYTHING.
Put your name and address on everything. Remember camp? The reason your mom sewed labels in your clothes is the same reason you want to label things you don’t think of as luggage.
This would include, for example, your glasses case with your expensive designer eyewear inside, your camera and camera bag or the extra tote you bought on the trip to carry all those goodies home.
If you leave these personal items behind on the plane, it’s essential that you have identification on each of them so they can be identified by the airline and returned. Remember that many other products similar to yours will be left in overhead bins or seat pockets.
Using a label maker is a simple way to alert the airlines of your cell number or email address that’s accessible to you on the road.
5 Treat your luggage nice.
Before packing for any trip, check all the zippers and locks on your bags because they may have become worn or broken on a previous trip. And be aware, even if the zippers and locks are in good condition, overstuffed luggage is prone to burst open during the normal shuffle between the terminal and the plane.
6 Make a list and check it twice.
Make an inventory of the items packed in each bag to assist the airline in finding your luggage in case it gets lost. Take a copy with you in your briefcase or purse.
7 Personalize, customize and stylize.
Prevent your look-alike bag from being grabbed off the carousel by a traveler too rushed to check the tags. Tie a colored ribbon or bandana on the handle or secure a colored elastic band (made for this purpose) around your suitcase. These kinds of mix-ups are preventable, so take precautions.
8 Ask questions.
Doug Dyment of OneBag.com, a travel speaker and author, has some good advice that will give you the best chance of seeing your luggage when you arrive at your destination.
He strongly cautions against using curbside check-in. Doing so increases the chances that your luggage will be missing at your destination – at least temporarily – according to industry statistics.
If you check in with an agent inside the airport, Doug advises you should know the 3-letter airport code of your destination airport (DFW, LAX, ORD, etc.). Double check that the agent has noted the correct airport and that the tag attached to your luggage is correct, before it heads down the conveyor belt.
Mistakes that could separate you from your luggage, even temporarily, can be easily avoided with this simple precaution. But even a delay can be a catastrophe if you need what’s in the bag for a business meeting, wedding or your vacation.
9 Don’t rush – take your time.
On the plane, carefully note where you’ve stashed items. If the only available overhead space is over row 27 and you’re sitting in row 23, be sure to make mental note of where it is.
Otherwise, in your rush to catch your connecting flight, you may grab your laptop from under the seat, but forget the carry on in the overhead bin several rows behind you. Or you could be left scrambling in the wrong bin wondering where your bag is.
10 Find an airline baggage agent.
If your luggage doesn’t arrive in the baggage claim area, find the baggage agent on duty immediately. There’s a chance your luggage has already arrived and is locked up in the agent’s area for safe keeping.
Sometimes luggage is loaded onto a non-stop flight even though you were on a plane that had a stopover on the way, so your suitcases get there before you.
But if your luggage is not there, do not leave the airport before completing the paperwork for the baggage agent. Fill out all information about your luggage on the forms provided. Be as detailed as possible. Get a phone number to call in case you need to follow-up.
If you need basic amenities such as toothbrush, toothpaste and razor to be ready for a meeting, ask. Most airlines will provide these for you while you’re waiting for your suitcase.
11 Stash the cash.
In addition to not losing your luggage, you don’t want your credit cards or passport pilfered either. There are a variety of wallets and purses available that are designed to be pickpocket resistant. If you follow these basic, common sense tips, you should reduce the risk of losing your luggage and other belongings.