How not to lose your luggage

November 6, 2014

One of the worst feelings is seeing the baggage carousel shutting down and baggage claim emptying out while you're standing there empty-handed. A few simple precautions can help ensure your bags arrive at the same place you do, and you don't end up with lost luggage.

How not to lose your luggage

Don't give your luggage to the airline

The surest way to prevent the airline from losing your bag is not to give your bag to the airline in the first place. If you'll only be travelling for a few days, take a carry on bag instead of checking luggage.

Sometimes, it can be smart to take a bag just a little too big for the overhead bin. You can take it through security and then have it checked at the gate. You won't have to struggle to lift the bag overhead, and it only has to travel the few feet to the plane from the jet bridge.

Another strategy is to not even bring your bag to the airport. Many package shipping companies now provide luggage shipping services. They provide special boxes that protect your bags, and they'll make sure your luggage arrives before you do. If you're staying at a hotel, make sure employees will accept and hold your bags for you.

Make your bags identifiable

Even if your bag makes it to your destination, there's no guarantee it will leave the terminal with you. Black bags are great for hiding dirt, but they all look alike. It's easy to walk off with someone else's bag by accident. Reduce the risk of mistaken identity by giving your bag an unusual look. You don't need to buy a purple polka-dotted suitcase, but tying a colourful strap to your bag will distinguish it from all the rest.

Pack your items in multiple bags

If you're travelling with another person, put some items for each person in each bag. That way, everyone will have a change of clothing unless all of your bags go missing.

Make your bags traceable

Help your bag find its way back to you if it does get lost. Besides a luggage tag on the outside, put your name and address or itinerary in an outside pocket and also put your name and address inside the bag.

What to do if your bag is lost

Airlines have a responsibility to get your bag to you, and if they find your bag, it will be delivered to you. Be sure to visit the airline's baggage office to report the missing bag. The employees may offer you a toiletries kit with a few overnight necessities.

If they don't recover your bag, follow up with the airline for compensation. Your homeowners or travel insurance policies may also provide coverage, so check with your insurance agent.

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