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Tips About Lost Bags

By travelanswerman | March 29, 2009

While airlines only lose about 1% of all the total baggage processed, there’s always the chance that you’ll be that unlucky passenger stuck waiting at the baggage carousel for luggage that will never come. There are a few things you can do, however, to help lower your chances of having your luggage lost. Here is a list of some preventive measures, as well as some tips on what to do if your bag is lost.

  1. Check as little as possible. The best advice for travelers worried about losing luggage is to simply try to avoid checking as much as possible. It’s much more difficult, if not a considerable effort, to lose luggage that you keep with you rather than checking in. Pack less to help keep your checked bags to a minimum whenever possible.
  2. Tag your luggage. Make sure each piece of luggage you’re bringing with you, especially those you’re checking in, are marked with sturdy luggage tags. They should have at the very least your name and a phone number where you can be reached on them. If you’re worried about privacy, get those that cover your information unless opened or put your business contact information on them instead. After all, you want to make it easy for the airline to contact you if your bag is found.
  3. Double check all tags. Airline counters can be busy, confusing places, and employees checking your bags are only human-they can make mistakes. You can help reduce any mix ups with luggage tagging, however rare, by making sure to double check your tags before you leave the counter. Check to see if the destination on the tag matches your final destination. You could save yourself a lot of time and trouble.
  4. Put some things in a companion’s luggage. If you’re traveling with a friend or family member, use the situation to your advantage. Put a change of clothes into your friends suitcase and have them put one into yours. Even if either bag is lost, you’ll both still have something to change into, and won’t be at a complete loss.
  5. Get a distinctive piece of luggage. While it may not prevent your luggage from being lost, it can make it a lot easier to find if your bag isn’t the standard black without any distinctive features. Try buying luggage in an uncommon color or attaching a luggage tag or ribbon that will help it stand out. It’ll make it easier to describe to airline employees if it’s lost, and easier for you to spot on the baggage carousel.
  6. File a claim immediately. If your bag is lost, don’t wait until later to notify the airline. In most cases, lost luggage must be reported within 24 hours if you will need to be reimbursed, not to mention that your claim of lost luggage is a lot harder to dispute if you’ve never left the building. File a claim as soon as you think your bag has gone missing, as the sooner you do it, the sooner the airline can get on getting your bag back to you.
  7. Know your information. In the event that you do need to deal with the hassles of lost luggage, it will be a whole lot easier on both you and the airline if you carry your contact information with you. This means hotel addresses and phone numbers of the hotel or residence where you’ll be staying. Looking up this information takes time, and could cause a delay in getting your bag back to you, which is the last thing you want.
  8. Don’t panic. If your bag doesn’t show up on the baggage carousel along with the others from your flight, don’t freak out. It’s tempting, especially after being on a long flight, but it’s possible that the bag is being held in the luggage office or with customer service. Check with the airline to see if it might already be waiting for you. Even if it is lost, panic or tears aren’t going to make it travel to you any faster, so calm down and deal with the problem as rationally as possible.
  9. Get compensation. Most airlines are responsible for making sure that you have the necessities you need to survive while your bag is being located. This can include toiletries and even basic clothing depending on the length of the delay of your luggage, and if your bag is entirely lost or damaged they should have to provide monetary compensation. Check with your airline to find out what your rights are regarding your lost bag.
  10. Pack essentials in your carry on. While you might choose to pack the bulk of your wardrobe and vacation provisions in your checked bag, you can avoid quite a bit of discomfort by packing essentials like a toothbrush, a change of clothes, makeup, and deodorant in your carry on. That way, if something happens to your bag, you’ll have at least enough to get by on until the rest of your things can get back to you.
  11. Take inventory. If you want to protect the contents of your bag, create a packing list or inventory of the contents of your suitcase. If it happens that your bag arrives without your favorite pair of jeans, you’ll have the documentation to back up your claims of theft.
  12. Use an outside service. If you really want to guarantee that you bag arrives in your destination city at the same time you do, consider using an outside service. Rates aren’t always cheap, but you will be assured that your luggage will end up where it was supposed to. Try a luggage shipping company like The Luggage Club, Carrymyluggage.com or even FedEx.
  13. Take a photo. A picture can be worth more than a thousand words. It can also save you valuable time in describing your bag to airline employees if it happens to go missing. Snap a quick photo of your suitcase before you leave home and carry it with you, either printed or on your cell phone, just in case.
  14. Place your itinerary in your suitcase. Make sure your wayward luggage comes with everything the airline needs to ensure that it returns to you safely. In addition to tags on the exterior, make sure to place your itinerary and contact information on the inside of your suitcase as well. When it’s found, it can help expedite getting it back to you.
  15. Check in early. A significant portion of the luggage that is lost by airlines is the result of passengers that check in at the last minute. Last minute bags may not have time to make it to the flight, and as a result, won’t arrive at your destination at the same time as you. Unless you have some sort of extenuating circumstances, you should arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance for your flight, and three if you want to be safe.
  16. Remove old airline tags. Frequent travelers may find themselves with old luggage tags still attached to bags the next time they go to fly. This can lead to a lot of confusion, not to mention potential bag misplacement. Before putting any new destination tags on your bag, make sure the old ones have been completely removed.
  17. Don’t ever check medications, jewelry or other valuables. If you’ve checked in a medication you need to take within the next 24 hours you may be out of luck if your bag can’t be returned to you right away. This can be an uncomfortable and even potentially dangerous situation. While jewelry and other valuables may not affect your health, they can be stolen from your bag, and many airlines won’t reimburse for the full cost of replacement for items like these. Always put these kind of things in your carry on bag, a purse, or even your pocket so they won’t get lost on the trip.
  18. Be civil. If your bag does get lost, yelling, threatening or disrespecting the airline employees isn’t going to get you your bag any faster. It’s normal to be frustrated, angry and distraught over lost luggage, but the person you’re yelling at wasn’t personally responsible for your inconvenience and is probably trying their best to rectify the situation. You’ll likely get better service if you calm down and give the customer service agents all the information they need to get your bag back to you as quickly as possible.
  19. Avoid overbooked flights. While you might really need to catch that last minute flight the day before the holidays, it’s likely that it will be full. Full flights may cause an overage in luggage, especially if people are traveling with especially bulky pieces, meaning that it just might not all fit on the plane. Rather than risk this, try flying on less crowded or out of the way flights. It might take some schedule rearranging, but you can save yourself hassle later of tracking down your bag.
  20. Keep your checked luggage stub handy. Your luggage stub it what links you to your bag. Check in agents normally affix it to the sleeve of your boarding pass so it won’t get lost. Hang on to this puppy. While it’s not impossible to track your bag without it, the numbers on this stub make it much easier to track your missing luggage.

Lost baggage doesn’t have to be a constant worry on your next flight. These tips can help reduce the chances of having to deal with the hassle of lost baggage or make your life a little easier in the event you do. Either way, your trip will benefit.

Source:  TravelHacker  www.travelanswerman.com

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