“Pictures, or it didn’t happen.”
In this day and age, it’s easy to take pictures of almost anything, at almost any time. Those quick and easy photos you can take with your phone are a great way to remember the good times that happened in your travels. But they’re also helpful to prove that something really did happen. Especially during your travels. This is why when you fly, you should always take photos of:
The stuff in your bags
You want to hope that your stuff won’t get stolen or lost, but sometimes it happens, even as early into your flight as at the TSA checkpoint. Or you may even leave something valuable (like electronics) there by mistake. If you take a photo of your valuables, you have proof that (A) they were in your bag and/or (B) they weren’t damaged when you gave the airline your bags.
Remember that if you have anything particularly valuable or breakable, you should try everything you can to keep it with you in your carry-on. Airlines will reimburse you for broken items up to a certain value but there are hoops to jump through and frankly, sometimes you want the actual item, not reimbursement. Anyway, here are some pointers on how to pack things so there’s less chance of breakage.
Your luggage when you check-in
If the airline damages your luggage, you’re going to want proof of the before and after, so the airline can’t claim that your bag already had that big dent in it. Take a photo of all six sides of your suitcase(s) before giving them to the workers at the check-in desk.
Your baggage tag
If you’re like me, you get the baggage tag from the check-in desk and shove it in a pocket. Then it mindlessly goes into a side pocket of one of your carry-ons when you have to empty your pockets to go through the TSA checkpoint. After that, who knows if you’ll throw it out by mistake or if you just don’t remember where it is.
If your bag is lost, you’re going to need that baggage tag. If you’ve taken a picture of it, it’s easy to find on your phone. Just make sure that all the letters and numbers are very legible.
Your boarding pass
Don’t post it online for everyone to see (here’s why), but if you have a problem with the airline and need to create a claim, you’re probably going to need your boarding pass.
The paper version, like the baggage tag, is too easy to lose or throw out. And even if you use their app, at least do a screen capture of your boarding pass since the apps don’t store them forever.
You at the gate
If you have a photo of you at the gate, especially with the date and time stamp, you can prove you were at the gate at whatever time. Should the airline need to bump someone and choose them based on who arrived last, you have proof that you were there with plenty of time to spare.
Your food and beverage, along with receipts
You have to have bought a certain type of ticket AND be stuck at the airport for a long, long time in order to be reimbursed for the money you spend on food and beverage. But if you get to that unfortunate point, having proof of what you consumed, as well as how much it cost could help with reimbursement. This is especially so if you’re in the EU, where reimbursement and compensation begin at the 3-hour mark. Make sure to get a good clear shot of your receipt, including the date and time.
How long you’re stuck on the plane
If you’re flying on a U.S. carrier in the U.S., you must be allowed to deplane after waiting on the tarmac for 3 hours (in the EU it’s 5 hours) or you may be eligible for compensation. So take a photo of how long you’re stuck there (use a timestamp).
You, once you land, if you’re late
This won’t do anything if you’re in the U.S., but if you’re flying in an EU carrier over the EU and have a flight delay that causes you to land over 3 hours late, you might be eligible for compensation. So if you’re that delayed, take a pic with a timestamp when you land.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary