Have you once lost your belongings when traveling? There are steps you can take so as not to ever experience that again. Learn here important tips to avoid losing luggage.
Tips to Avoid Losing Luggage Every Traveler Should Remember
One of the most horrible experiences that can happen to any traveler is losing a luggage. Your much-anticipated vacation may be ruined by this preventable incident. But based on recent lost luggage statistics, as stated in the Air Travel Consumer Report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, in February 2016, mishandled luggage are down to 2.64 cases for every 1,000 passengers from 3.64 in the same month last year. That number is equivalent to 118,554 of mishandled baggage in one month.
If you want to see your bag at your final destination and to know what to do in case your bag has disappeared, here are tips to avoid losing luggage you must remember.
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1. Be at the airport ahead of time and avoid short connected flights
First on the list of tips to avoid losing luggage is to get to the airport as early as possible. If you know that you have bags for checking, get to the airport earlier than the recommended 60 minutes before a domestic travel and 120 hours for international travel. Going through the security isn’t that time-consuming, but our luggage takes a really long time to be transferred to their places. By having it checked early, you are giving your bag ample time to get through the Transportation and Security Administration scanning onto the plane’s hold.
Before you place your bag to the conveyor belt, double-check the routing label if the information is correct and if the printout is clear. Because even though there’s a bar code somewhere in the label that stores accurate passenger’s flight details, it is readable by computers only. The airlines still rely on human baggage handlers to get the bags to their proper destinations.
If you have connecting flights, avoid booking your next flights with a departure time so close to your first flight’s arrival. The process of transferring passenger from one airline to the next is simple for passengers but not for your luggage. Your bags will have to undergo series of stops and inspection before they can follow you. This is why booking multiple flights with short connection times is not recommended; the shorter the interval between flights, the bigger the probability of your bag not making into your next flight. The baggage handlers will not have enough time to transfer your bag from one plane to the next. In some flights, you may even have to retrieve your luggage yourself and you will have to recheck. That would require you more time to transfer to your next flight. So it’s advisable to ask the airline reps when you check in for your first flight who will transfer your luggage, you or them.
2. Prepare your luggage
One of the best tips to avoid losing luggage is to embellish your bags with bright accents such as ribbons, belts, and other accessories that will allow you to easily identify it. It is especially important since bags today look almost alike. Actually, a lot of bags are missing not because the airline misplaced them, but because some passengers mistakenly took a bag they thought are theirs. Additionally, an attractive or unique decoration is easily noticed by baggage handlers, so there’s little chance that your bag will just be left behind.
What happens when your identifier is damaged? That’s why you also have to label your luggage. Put an identification or a copy of your flight details with your contact number on the outside pocket of your bag. Place a durable ID tag on it and make sure that it’s clear and the information are correct, not only so you can identify your bag from the rest, but also so that if your bag is misrouted, it will be easier for the airline to contact you.
Before you leave it, double-check the information. Make sure they’re all updated. Check if you have put your current home address, e-mail address, and your current phone number. It’s not just for the airline’s benefit but for your fellow passenger as well who may mistake your bag for theirs.
Also another one of the must-follow tips to avoid losing luggage is to put another identification tag inside the bag. Insert another one in the outside pocket of your bag so that if the outside tag is accidentally removed while in transit, the airline can trace you in the event that your bag is delayed or misrouted.
Travel experts say that when traveling, assume the worst. In 2010, Giorgio Gucci (yes, the Gucci brand) checked a luggage with contents worth $50,000. Unsurprisingly, his bag was stolen. The lesson: never include your valuable items such as your wallet, jewelry, keys, medication, passport, and gadgets when packing your suitcase. Instead, put them 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.
It also pays to list down the items you will bring with you and take a photo of it so it would be easy for you to claim reimbursement in case your bag gets lost. The list will come handy in the event that the airline asks you to enumerate all the items in your bag. Take also a snap selfie with your luggage so the airline will have an idea of your bag’s size and of course its appearance.
3. Insert a tracking device in your bag
This is a good investment especially if you have an important item inside your bag. A GPS travel tracker device is perfect for travelers, it doesn’t take much space inside your bag, it’s slim, and its size is similar to a credit card. With it, you can track your luggage anytime and anywhere in the world. The device is a great help so you can quickly find lost luggage. You don’t have to worry if you have multiple flights because its battery can last up to seven days. What’s great about this tiny device is that you will receive an alert if your bag gets opened.
4. Know your rights as passenger
If it’s clear that your bag is not coming, meaning that you have not seen your luggage after waiting for a few hours, don’t wait until tomorrow and immediately file a lost luggage report with the airline before your leave the airport. Don’t forget to ask the staff assisting you for the copy of your complaint, as well as phone number and the name of the person you have to contact for follow-up of the status of your report.
Airlines are required by the Department of Transportation to reimburse passengers for lost bags for a maximum of $3,300 per passenger for domestic flights, and for international flights, it’s $1,131 per passenger. However, there is no clear guidelines given for delayed luggage. Some airlines provide free toiletries or give money for it. While others don’t offer money. In that case, ask the airline which items are acceptable for refund, then save your receipts.
Once your bag is declared officially lost, you will be asked to fill out another report, a more detailed one. This will enable the airline to estimate the worth of your bag and its contents. You may also want to inform your insurance provider because lost luggage is included under the off-premises coverage. It could be covered by the insurance.
Last thing and probably one of the most important tips to avoid losing luggage is to do a followup. Your quest to find your missing luggage doesn’t stop after you file a 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.
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 and purchase a 3G GPS travel tracker to lower the odds of losing your bag or at least minimize your loss.
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