Travelling soon? Here’s how to make sure you don’t lose your baggage

luggage and bags in line at the airport

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One of our worst nightmares is losing our bags when we travel. It’s one of those things that can zap your energy and enthusiasm for the trip. Even if you purchased baggage insurance (when traveling by air), money can never replace items with sentimental value that you’ve lost if you never get you bag returned. To ensure that your trip will be memorable for all the right reasons, follow these tips:

How to prevent losing your baggage

  1. Use identification tags– This is still the simplest and easiest way to prevent loss. Use two labels or bag tags. Attach one tag outside. This should contain all your contact details. Put the other one inside the bag in case the outside tag falls off. If you are wary about putting your complete address on the tags for security reasons, write down your business address on the outside tag and your home or destination address on the inside.
  2. Make it unique – If your bag looks generic, it might be mistakenly picked up by another person. To prevent this from happening, tie some ribbons or put some stickers on your bag. This will also make it easy for you to identify it when it comes rolling down on the conveyor belt. Incidentally, to minimize the probability of damage, get high-quality, durable, hard-sided suitcases that have handles attached with rivets. Also, get one with wheels that are spinners (four wheels that go in whatever direction). It makes it easier for baggage handlers to roll your bag down the plane and less likely that they will throw your bags around. Lastly, make sure that the zippers are durable. Rough handling may break bag zippers and cause some items to fall out of your bag.
  3. Remove old tags – Take off old airline tags from your previous travels. These can be mistakenly scanned and re-route your bag to your old destination. Also, stow away extra handles or straps on your bag to minimize the chances that it will be caught in the machinery. This can damage your bag or get it on the path to a different destination.
  4. Take a pic – Take a photo of your bag on your phone. Take a photo of the outside of the bag as well as its contents. If it gets lost, you can show these photos to baggage agents. The photos can make it easier for them to find your bag and help establish the replacement value.
  5. Use a tracker if you have valuable items – As much as possible, don’t check-in anything that can’t be replaced. Don’t put money, jewelry, expensive equipment like cameras (as they can get damaged or stolen), and essential documents like passports in your checked-in bag. Put all your essentials in your carry-on. If you must check-in a valuable item, consider buying a smart tag or wireless tracker. These are handy gadgets equipped with GPS and Bluetooth that will allow you to monitor your bag or item through an app.
  6. Check-in early – The most common causes of delayed or lost bags are late check-ins and tight connections. Baggage handlers need time to process luggage and load them onto planes. The earlier you check-in, the greater the chances that your bags will be handled carefully and correctly.
  7. Check if the airline bag tag is correct – Double check the automated baggage tag that the agent printed out for you. Make sure that it has the right name and destination. Keep your bag tag receipt. This contains information that can help you track your bag.

Why luggage goes missing from Global News

When your luggage is lost:

If despite your best efforts your luggage still gets lost, do the following:

  1. File a claim – Do this immediately when you’ve determined that your luggage is missing. Go to the airline’s baggage service office and report it. Show them photos of your baggage (if you have them). Make sure to have a copy of the claim before you leave the airport. Check if the claim has a claim number and a telephone number to make a follow up call.
  2. Check your luggage insurance – If you’ve purchased insurance or if you have a credit card that covers luggage insurance (for lost or delayed baggage), check the terms. Some airlines may provide a certain amount of money for you to purchase clothes and other necessities while they are looking for your luggage.
  3. Demand any fees back – Should your bag be declared permanently lost, demand for payment from the airline.

Sources: Lost luggage: Here’s what happens to your baggage after check-in, Aalia Adam, Global News; Confessions of an airline baggage ‘thrower’: Why you should buy a four-wheeler suitcase, George Hobica, Life; How to (almost) never lose your luggage again, Jason Steele, The Points Guy; and 7 ways to prevent lost luggage, Caroline Costello, Smarter Travel.

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