It may seem that you’ve lost complete control of your personal belongings, and perhaps even your dignity, in this modern day of jet travel. But there are a few things you can do to help reduce the instances of lost and misrouted luggage. In fact, following just a few simple tips and tricks may be enough to shift the odds in your favor next time a bag goes missing from one of your flights.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to help prevent your luggage from being lost in the first place:
Getting your bag on the right airplane is mostly up to the airlines. But there are a couple things you can do to help ensure that your bag is going the same place that you are.
First, arrive early. The cargo compartment has a fixed amount of space available. Those arriving late may have their bags shipped on a later flight. Whether it’s a space issue, or simply a matter of poor timing, getting to the airport early will help you keep your luggage where you want it. Right under your seat.
Second, remove all checked bag tags from your luggage that may still be lingering around from previous trips. Leaving those tags on your bag is a sure fire recipe for getting your bag shipped east when you are traveling west.
Then, pay attention to the tags that the agent places on your bags when you check them in. Check to see that it’s YOUR NAME on the tags, and that the three-letter city code printed on the tag in bold letters is indeed the code for your destination. If you aren’t familiar with the code, politely ask the agent to explain it to you.
Third, if your luggage is black, and an overwhelmingly large percentage of all the luggage in the world is, do something to change that. Purchase new luggage in the ugliest color you can find, or do something to make your black bag stand out from all the other black bags in the belly of the lost luggage machine. Apply ANYTHING to the outside of the bag that is semi-permanent, and that will make your bag EASY to identify to a complete stranger. After all, if your bag does become one of the missing, it’s a stranger that’s going to be looking for it.
Fourth, avoid short connections. While it’s true that no one enjoys sitting around an airport, and no one wants the pleasure of his or her travel to be even a minute longer than necessary, a short connection spells doom for your luggage. And if your flight is even just a few minutes late, your luggage will miss its connecting flight. As a rule, look for connections of 1 hour or more on domestic flights, and 2 hours anytime customs will be involved. If your bag is lost in customs, it may truly be lost forever.
Lastly, if your bag does go missing, take a deep breath and resist the urge to be angry with the agent taking the report of your lost baggage. Getting angry with the only person in the world that can help you locate your missing luggage isn’t a good idea.
Additionally, you are the only person in the world that even cares if your bag is found. So you have to stay in the game. Get the name of the person who takes your report, and get a LOCAL phone number that will allow you reach this person directly. The toll-free numbers that are routinely given out are all but worthless. You need a number where you can talk to a real person that can give you real assistance, in real time. Then, use that number regularly, but politely, until your lost baggage is returned.
Saving the obvious for last, using brightly colored luggage tags like the ones we make here at Crew Tags are an excellent way to spot your bag more easily on the carousel. And an easy way to make your bag stand out to those perfect strangers that are out searching for it. Should your bag be found without the paper tags that the airline attaches to your bag, a sturdy luggage tag that readily identifies you is your last line of defense. And TSA regulations require that, as a minimum, your name and phone number be attached to your bag in the form of a luggage taganyway.