so you have to check a bag…here are some tips

luggageEven I admit…sometimes there is just no other option. You have to take a deep breath and check your bag. Hopefully, you’ll see it again one day.

Photos of luggage piled high at airports, horror stories of people surviving their whole vacation without any stuff, shortages of baggage handlers….  why would anyone check. Well, even I have had to take this horrible step on occasion. Destination weddings  and ski trips are the worst…multiple days each requiring a new outfit or all that keep warm clothing. EEK! The internet is humming with people complaining about  airlines forcing them to check their typically carry-on bags

What is a traveler to do? Besides hoping for the best. Here are some tips to increase the odds of getting your luggage…

  • Make your bag stand out: Bye-bye basic black Duct tape is your new best friend. Get a bright color and start sticking it all over. When you finally get through to customer service it is way easier for them to find the bag with big pink strips than just another black suitcase. You want it easy to find.
  • If you have to connect, book all flights with the same airline: Makes it harder to pass the buck and blame the other guys. One less step where things can go wrong. Everything is on the same system. Only one customer service team to deal with. And don’t book tight connections…way less chance of your bag making the transfer.
  • Never check everything: Make sure meds, laptop, cash and an extra pair of undies are in your smallest carry-on. And anything else you can’t live without. It is averaging 36 hours to get people their delayed luggage. You can buy a t-shirt anywhere. Getting your passport back is more challenging. Keep it close.
  • Take photos: Inside, outside and of the check bag receipt (that little sticker the airline usually puts on your ticket). You may need to prove what is in your bag either to the airline or your insurance company. The little sticker is required too. Don’t throw it our until your have your bag.
  • Label your bag and remove all old labels: Make sure your name is on your bag, inside and out…stick business cards in pockets. Anything that makes it easy to find you and identify the bag as yours. Take off all old labels…even the priority ones. They often have barcodes and add can add to the challenge of getting your bag to right place. Many handlers are new to the job, mistakes happen, the wrong label gets scanned.
  • Timing is everything: Get your bag checked early…there is no waiting for last minute luggage, and everything is slower than pre Covid. But don’t check it too early…4 to 6 hours before your flight and you risk it being put to side and forgotten.
  • Double check the tags: Make sure the tag put on the bag is the same place you are going…harassed check in agents are human…they make mistakes. Then make sure your bag gets on the conveyor belt. During busy times things get left to the side.
  • Airtags, Airtags, Airtags: Or some similar tracking device. I know I go on about these, but they really do help prove where your bag is and that will help you get it back.

Safe travels!


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