If you’re like any other traveler, you would want to avoid checking your bag in—and it’s for a reason. Nobody wants to wait at the baggage claim when all you want to do is stretch your body after sitting in the plane the whole day. And what’s more irritating is when you have waited for an hour already only to be told that your luggage is missing or stolen. It makes you wish you just brought a carry-on luggage, which of course is impossible since you have important items you have to bring.
With that in mind, we offer you some suggestions on what to do to avoid losing your luggage and what to do in case it still gets lost.
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Don’t use expensive suitcase
When you use flashy luggage such as Louis Vuitton, Globe Trotter, Tumi, etc. when traveling, you are unknowingly inviting thieves to check out your bag. If you are using expensive bags, potential robbers would assume that what’s in your bag is even more expensive. When traveling, always use the simple and least fancy luggage.
Avoid putting valuables in a checked bag
In 2010, Giorgio Gucci (yes, the Gucci brand) checked a luggage with contents worth $50,000. Unsurprisingly, his bag was stolen. The lesson? Never place your valuables on a checked luggage. Personal items such as cash, jewelry, gadgets, medicines, keys, and fragile items are likely to get stolen, so it should be put in your carry-on bag. Remember, the airline can only reimburse lost luggage up to $3,500 per passenger for domestic flights and $2,500 for international flights.
Attach a bright-colored ribbon to your checked bag
Do you know that a lot of lost bags are not actually lost? Many bags today do look alike. When a customer is in a hurry, as soon as he sees a similar-looking bag, the passenger erroneously takes the bag without checking if it’s really his luggage. To avoid this, put a bright-colored ribbon or any unique identifier in your luggage to easily spot your bag and others to mistake your bag as theirs.
Attach a name tag and contact information to your bag
Putting a tag in the bag has become a habit for most passengers. On the tag is your name, flight, and contact details. But sometimes, the tag is not sturdy enough and it gets damaged at one point while in transit. In case your luggage is misrouted and your tag is teared, it will be difficult for the airline to contact you. To avoid this scenario, make sure that you insert a second tag in the outer pocket of your luggage.
Avoid booking connecting flights with a short connection
Booking multiple flights with short connection times is not recommended because the possibility of missing your bag is big. The process of transferring of passenger from one airline to the next is simple enough but not your luggage. Your bags have to undergo series of stops and inspection before they can follow you. So always leave enough time in between flights for your luggage of at least an hour.
Airlines That Handle Checked Bags Best
Based on the data provided by the Department of Transportation, of every 1,000 bags, Airtran Airways mishandled only 1.97 bags, while Atlantic Southeast Airlines mishandled 8.22 bags out of 1,000. If you will notice, the airlines with best records are all low cost carriers.
Usually, when it comes to handling luggage, international airlines are better, although there is no available data that would confirm the number of bags lost by foreign airlines. Noticeably, airlines like European Union, with clear government regulation about passenger rights, handle passenger luggage better because of the large amount of money they have to reimburse if they lose it.
Consider buying baggage insurance
When we go to the airport and check our baggage, we don’t think about losing it; but to be sure, you may add baggage insurance in your expenses, especially if you have something important in your bag. Many companies offer baggage insurance with great coverage. One example is American Express. If you have an Amex card, their Premium Baggage Protection costs $9.95 per travel and it covers up to $2,000 for lost or stolen luggage.They also offer additional max $500 for essential replacement items if luggage is delayed for at least three hours.
File a lost luggage report immediately
Upon discovery that your bag is missing, report it immediately. By immediately, that means after waiting for considerable time at the baggage claim area and you haven’t seen your bag, it’s time to notify the airline staff. Don’t wait for the next day to file a report because the sooner you inform them about your problem, the sooner they can locate your luggage. Remember to ask for the name and contact number of the person who assisted you so you know who to call for follow-ups.
Although you have the right to get angry for the hassle it caused you, still be nice to the baggage office personnel. It’s not their fault that your bag got lost.
Itemize the content of your bag
It’s important that you know what’s in your bag so in the event that it gets lost, you know what to write down when the airline asks you to give a complete list of items in your bag. Before packing, list down the items you need to bring. Take a picture of it and your bag too for easier identification.
Know your rights
According to Department of Transportation, the airlines are liable to reimburse each passenger $3,300 only. But don’t expect the airline to give you the full amount because they base the amount on the depreciated value of your belongings and not the price of the item when it was still new. For delayed bags, policy varies depending on the airline and the number of hours your luggage is delayed.
Some airlines may offer you free necessities such as toiletries and clothes, while other will reimburse you up to a certain amount. So just hold on to the receipts of your purchases so you can ask for refund.
Your quest to find your missing luggage doesn’t stop after you file a lost luggage report. The purpose you ask for the airline employee’s contact number is to ask them about the status of your bag. Be persistent. Call them every day until they find it. Or better yet, use the social media, message the airline’s Twitter or Facebook page because they are more responsive when you bring an issue publicly.
Though if your luggage is really lost, you may have to wait for at least 2 to 3 weeks before the airline can declare that the luggage is lost.
Use Trackimo luggage tracker
If you want to know where your luggage is at all times, use GPS tracking device. This is particularly useful when you have something important inside your luggage. Even if the airline mishandles your luggage, quick and easy recovery of your luggage is assured because using your computer or smartphone, you can track your luggage’s location anywhere in the world. Before the device’s battery runs out, you will be able to retrieve your bag. Trackimo device battery can last up to 96 hours. And you will know if your bag has been opened because the device will send you an alert message.
There is really no foolproof plan to prevent luggage loss especially since you have no control on how the airline handles it. The least you can do is to follow the tips we mentioned above to lower the odds of losing your bag or at least minimize your loss.