I have never experienced a lost luggage issue, but my heart goes out to all that have. I hope I never have to judging by all the tales I have heard from fellow travelers – “My bag sat in the lost luggage office for 4 days and no one bothered to call me!” and “I never saw my bag again after I checked it.”
Prevention is the remedy to most issues. There is no 100% foolproof method, but there are some great tips to avoid the nightmare. While researching, I wanted to start with the root of the problem…Why does luggage go missing?
According to Budget Travel, there are 4 common reasons luggage gets lost. In no particular order:
Problem – The attendant types in wrong destination code for your bag’s tag. Human error happens and typos are usually to blame.
Prevention – Kindly, ask the attendant to read the tag’s destination to you after it is printed and placed on your bag.
Problem – The routing label gets damaged, misprinted or torn off on the roller coaster ride it goes on behind the scenes.
Prevention – Check the tag for any smears or cutoffs that may have been caused while printing. If you ask the attendant to read you the destination code from the tag mentioned above, he or she should also notice any issues.
Problem – You forget to pick it up from the carousel. It happens believe it or not. Screaming kids, urgent phone calls, late flights or rushing can all add up to forgetting your bag.
Prevention – Tie a string around your finger or go easy on the in-flight cocktails. Employ whatever helps you to remember to swing by that luggage carousel!
Problem – Bags are loaded onto the wrong plane. Again, human error – plain and simple.
Prevention – Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent this issue. It is suggested that you arrive early and check your bag no later than 45 minutes before your flight is due to takeoff. This will make sure your bag has time to make it to the plane too!
I have a few other tips I have picked up over time…
*Don’t use a red string. Everyone is using that trick nowadays. Instead, pick a neon colored ribbon, like bright green, and sew it on. Even better, monogram or sew on something unique like a gold star or bright green smiley face.
*Fill out those ID cards. It sounds obvious, but airlines are still surprised at how many travelers don’t have them completely filled out.
*Take a picture of your bag and its contents. If it does get lost, having a visual of the bag will be a huge help to those trying to find it among the other lost/unclaimed luggage out there. Taking a photo of the contents will make filling out those claim forms in the end a lot easier and gives you proof of what you packed.
*Remove or tuck away all straps hooks and anything that can get snagged.
*Divide clothes into everyone’s bag, that way if one bag does get lost, you still have some clothes in another fellow traveler’s bag.
What are your lost luggage horror stories?