When you’re flying out of town, one of the the last thing you want is for the airline to lose your luggage.
Considering how many bags are checked by airlines in a single year – about 485 million in the U.S. in 2019 alone – the fact that only 1.73% were lost or mishandled doesn’t sound all that bad. Until you realize that 1.73% is about 2.8 million bags. And if you’re the owner of one of those 2.8 million bags, well, yeah it’s bad.
Of course, you can always buy a bag tracker and use on of those. But they often require annual subscriptions and frankly, many get varying reviews.
There’s this way to find out if your bag has made it onto the plane but it’s admittedly not foolproof, because you’re relying on someone else.
And let’s face it, the last place you want your bag to wind up is here.
Some airlines are admittedly worse than others at losing luggage (here’s a list, from best to worst, from 2019). But frankly, the best way to avoid all of that might just be to increase your chances that your bags make it onto, not just the plane, but YOUR plane.
Fortunately, a baggage handler recently took to Reddit with some advice:
Use the same bags
Of course, this only works if you and your party have more than 1 checked bag. But if they’re all exactly the same, there’s more of a chance that the baggage handlers will keep them together.
I would also suggest they NOT be black. Have them be an oddball color or pattern. Three bright orange 27″ suitcases are going to stick out and will just “look” like they’re supposed to be together – so hopefully they will.
Have your contact info accessible
Use a luggage tag (here are some really cool ones), fill it out and put it on the outside if the bag, where it’s easily seen.
If your printed bag tag has somehow ripped off, they may still be able to figure out where your bag is supposed to go, because they’ll have access to your name/address/phone/email (make sure they match with what you told the airline). Then they can cross-reference that info and print you out a new bag tag.
Some people also put their contact info in the inside of their bags and that’s fine too. If you do that, also include your hotel info for that trip. But it’s the info on the outside that’s most important, so it’s the most readily available.
Remove all your old bag tags
If there are more than one bag tags on your bag, it’s a guessing game for handlers to know which one they should scan. Make it easier for them so they don’t scan the wrong one, be it on purpose or not.
Check in early
Unless the TSA security checkpoint queue is crazy busy and you don’t have TSA PreCheck (and why don’t you?), chances are good that it will take your luggage more time to get to the plane that you will. If you’re getting to the airport last minute and check your bags, they may not make it through the system they need to to get to the plane in time.
Don’t check bags
Of course, if you don’t want the airline to lose your bag, don’t give it to them.
If you’re one of those people who can do a trip with just carry on, go for it! (Full disclosure: once a trip is more than 3 days long, I am not on of those people LOLOL)
Another option, albeit a more expensive one, is to ship your luggage. FedEx and UPS will make tracking easier, and if anything is lost or damaged, you’ll have a far easier time with them than you will any airline. There are shipping companies that will ship luggage domestically or even internationally. The cost for this generally depends on distance being traveled, as well as size/weight of the bag(s). And another advantage of doing this is not having to shlep your luggage from Point A to Point B :-).
Feature Photo: Ilya Plekhanov / Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary