Avoid lost luggage: tips for connecting with your baggage

You’ve just arrived at your final destination, but you don’t see your luggage on the airport baggage carousel. It’s one of those stomach-dropping moments that can turn even the most anticipated trip into a colossal headache. The odds of an airline losing or misplacing your luggage increases when your itinerary includes a connecting flight. Rather than vowing to book non-stop flights only in the future, use some of these tools and tips to lessen the probability of your checked bag missing its connection.

Q: Why do airlines lose luggage?

A: It’s pretty simple – baggage handlers need time to transfer your luggage from aircraft to aircraft. If your flight is late or if your layover is tight on time, the handlers might not make the transfer before your next plane takes off. So in conclusion, your checked luggage is not disappearing mysteriously on the baggage claim conveyor belt. As a result, you should try to avoid short layovers. Make certain you book flights that give plenty of time for you and your luggage to make the connection. Other causes for lost luggage can include anything from the airline attendant typing in the wrong airport code to the routing label getting ripped off your luggage during transport.

Q: Is the airline always responsible for transferring my baggage?

A: While the airline is typically in charge of luggage transfers, don’t assume that’s always the case. In fact, in some international airports, you may be responsible for retrieving and rechecking your own luggage. Ask ahead of time if you’ll need to attend to your own bags.

Q: How should I prepare my luggage for an itinerary with a connecting flight?

A: Make certain you prominently display your itinerary and contact information inside your bag. If your ID bag tag is destroyed before or after your connecting flights, the airline workers can still easily track you down. Prepare for the worst-case scenario and take a photo of all your bag’s contents. If the bag is lost for good, you’ll have a record of all your missing items, so the airline can properly compensate you for the loss of your possessions.

Q: How should I pack for an itinerary with a connecting flight?

A: Keep all of your valuable items, such as passports, credit cards, and medications, in your carry-on bag. If your checked bag does get lost or misplaced between connecting flights, you won’t be without your essential items. Another helpful tip is to pack a change of clothes and toiletries in case of there being any lost bags.

Q: Is any kind of technology available that can help me find my lost luggage (ie. a luggage tracker)?

A: Some luggage tags and the luggage itself have tracking devices equipped with GPS technology. If your bag misses your connecting flight or gets stuck somewhere in no man’s land, you can help the airline track down its location via its attached tracking device. I have used an Apple Airtag to track luggage. The Apple Airtag provides peace of mind. A low-cost solution is to add unique stickers to your luggage or I tie bows from hotel rooms and reused an airline’s heavy sticker for years to identify my lookalike suitcase.

Q: What are some common-sense travel tips to prevent my luggage from getting lost during connecting flights?

A: Double-check the accuracy of the routing label and luggage tag on your bags. The routing label should include the final airport in your multi-leg journey, and the tags should highlight your name and contain up-to-date contact information. Before check-in, make certain you remove old airline tags and old tags tracing to past flights, which can, understandably, confuse baggage handlers and may result in your luggage being sent to the wrong city. Also, you can put an Apple Airtag in your luggage to avoid your luggage being truly lost.

Q: What can U.S. airlines do about my bags getting lost during air travel?

A: Airlines can do a variety of things to help compensate for missing baggage. Passengers can ask for a reimbursement of their travel or a travel voucher for their next flight with that airline. Popular airlines such as Delta and American Airlines have proper policies in place for their customers so they are guaranteed peace of mind during their travel.

The department of transportation has an airline travel complaint form. And if you have a concern about the baggage screening process, call the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) toll-free at 1-866-289-9673