How to Handle and Prevent Lost Luggage

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With more than 100,000 flights every day, this is a golden age of air travel, a mode of transportation that experts agree is roughly 23 times safer than traveling by car. Despite the fact that almost 3 billion air passengers each year arrive at their destination safely, the same can’t be said for their luggage. In 2012, the Department of Transportation estimated that more than five out of every thousand bags in the United States were mishandled in some fashion. An airline losing your luggage at the end of a vacation can be a major annoyance, but when it occurs at the beginning of your travels, it can be catastrophic. Luckily, with preparation and a few tricks from veteran travelers, you can decrease your chances of losing your luggage while also saving your vacation should the worst happen.

Protecting your luggage begins at home. First, either buy distinctive luggage or add some personalized flair to make it stand out from the crowd. Next, take a picture of the luggage and make an inventory of its contents. These two steps can be invaluable in finding the bags should they be lost and receiving full compensation if they are never found. Take off any baggage claim tags remaining from your last trip and strap on a good ID tag. Before you check your luggage, remember to put a copy of your itinerary and identification inside the bag as well. This can be a huge help if the tag is torn off. It is also be very important to plan for the worst; if you will be traveling with anything you can’t afford to lose, including medication, pack it in your carry-on, along with a change of clothes.

When you arrive at the airport, be sure to check the baggage tags to ensure they match your ticketed destination. Making connecting flights is difficult for bags and people alike, so consider booking direct flights. In addition, check your bags early to ensure they’ll make it on the plane. Most airlines recommend checking bags at least 90 minutes before the flight. If, however, your bags still manage to get lost, remember to stay at the airport to file a baggage claim. A properly filed baggage claim often entitles you to damages if the luggage never returns. You can also use it to obtain reimbursement for emergency items purchased while waiting for your luggage. Ask the baggage claims office for details on individual airlines’ policies.

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