The odds of losing your luggage are slim. According to the Air Travel Consumer Report (issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation), there is less than a 1% chance that a major airline will misplace your bags. But if you are still concerned, here are a few helpful tips on how to avoid lost luggage?
Simple tips on how to avoid lost luggage
1. Add personality to your luggage
So many bags look the same as others. If you have common-looking luggage, chances are good that someone could mistakenly pick up your luggage, thinking it is theirs. Avoid this hassle by adding personality to your luggage.
There should be no confusion between your and another person’s luggage. You can do this with a bold and colorful luggage belt, splashy tags, stickers, ribbons tied to the handle, etc.
2. Use luggage tags or update old tags
Sometimes, the routing label that the airlines put on your bag gets damaged in transit. When this happens, the airlines are unable to tell where to route your luggage. However, luggage tags could ease this hassle because baggage handlers will know who the bags belong to. Therefore, make it a priority to attach an ID tag to the handle of your luggage.
You could go with tags that have special QR codes that identify you, tags that are embedded with microchips that help you determine the exact location of your luggage, or go old-school with simple ID tags that have a limited amount of your personal details. For the sake of privacy, you may include your first initial and your last name, plus a telephone number. If you are comfortable doing so, you could also add your email and/or social media handles.
As you choose luggage tags, go for quality tags that don’t damage easily. Materials like plastic, neoprene, silicone and stainless steel hold up better against the elements.
If you already have luggage tags, make sure it is updated with your most recent contact information.
3. Remove old tags and stickers
If you have traveled before, you’ll have told tags, stickers, and barcodes on your bags. Be sure to remove them. Chances are baggage handlers will be able to identify the most recent bag labels, but why leave it open to confusion?
Another perk about removing old labels is that if your bag gets misplaced, it will be easy for baggage handlers to see where it is supposed to go.
4. Check the new routing tags
Human error can cause luggage to get lost. For example, your luggage could be mistakenly put on the wrong airplane. If this happens, the airline would reroute your luggage to the correct destination.
Another example of human error could be if the attendant enters the wrong destination airport on your labels. If that happens, your bags will obviously not get to their intended destination. If you are at all fearful of this happening, have a quick peek at the labels before it goes to the baggage handlers, and check if it has the correct information.
5. Allow yourself and your luggage enough time to connect
If you have a connecting flight, make sure that you have enough time built into your itinerary to go from your arrival to departure gates.
No one wants to spend extra time at an airport, but if you cut your times too close, there may simply not be enough time for your luggage to make the connection.
Also keep in mind that connections at some international airports require that you pick up your luggage at baggage claim, exit, then check in again to drop off your luggage.
6. Put your itinerary and contact details inside your luggage
If you have your luggage tag on your bag, plus the adhesive luggage labels provided by the airline, chances are your luggage will not get lost. However, if the labels and the luggage tags somehow come off, take the extra precaution of including a printed copy of your travel itinerary inside your luggage. That way, if the unthinkable happens, it will be easy for airline staff to track you down. Be sure to include a printed copy of your complete itinerary and contact details and place it on the top of your luggage. That way, they’ll be able to see where you are (and where your luggage is supposed to be).
7. Check in early
When you check in early, particularly for international flights, it may seem like a waste of time. But there is a good reason the airlines ask you to check in early, and keeping luggage on track is one of those reasons.
It takes time for baggage handlers to move luggage from the check-in drop-off to the airplane. If your luggage was checked in late, it may not make it to its intended point on time. Avoid this hassle by arriving at the recommended time.
8. Take a picture of your luggage
If your luggage were to get lost, having photographic evidence may help. Take photos of:
- Contents of luggage – Once you are packed, take a picture of your luggage before you zip it up. If your luggage gets lost and the airline wants a complete list of the contents, you will have pictures to go by.
- Luggage before – If your luggage appears to be lost, the airline will ask for a description of your bag. Instead of merely a description, also provide a picture. A picture will help identify your luggage much quicker than a description would.
- Luggage after – once your luggage has been tagged at the drop-off, take a photo of the tag numbers before it goes to the baggage handlers. This will give you extra ammunition in case of lost baggage.
9. Ship your luggage
The rate of lost luggage in the USA is low but if you are fearful of this happening to you, you could ship your luggage to the end destination so that it arrives right before you do. This is an expensive option but shipping companies like UPS and FedEx are very reliable. If something were to happen to your luggage, they will be quick to handle claims—which is not the case with lost luggage and the airlines.