After waiting years for international borders to reopen, we’ve experienced a chaotic travel season, with mass delays, disruptions… And lost luggage. With unprecedented levels of missing bags and airports piled high with wayward suitcases, you might be wondering how not to lose luggage on your next flight. We’re here to help. From using GPS tags to avoiding tight connections, these are some of the best ways you can lessen the risk of losing your luggage. We also give you some tips on how to find your bags if they do go AWOL and how to prepare so missing luggage doesn’t put a huge damper on your trip.
Travel with carry-on bags only
The best way to avoid the hassle of losing your luggage is to carry it on. While that’s not always possible – especially for longer trips – it can be surprisingly attainable. Most airlines also allow two carry-on bags including your standard carry-on bag and one personal item, such as a small purse or laptop bag that can fit under the airplane seat.
Pack light by choosing outfits you can mix and match, and only take one or two pairs of shoes. You can also do laundry as you travel, so you don’t need to pack as many clothes. Whittle down your toiletries to the absolute essentials or buy them when you arrive at your destination. Another airport tip for doing carry-on only is to try to be one of the first to board. If the overhead space on the airplane fills up, you may be required to check your bag anyway, and then you’ll risk losing it!
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Avoid tight connections
If you don’t want to be one of the many passengers losing their luggage next time you fly, be sure to avoid tight connections. Fly direct if you can, but if you have to do a stopover, make sure it’s a longer one. When you have a tight connection, it gives less time for the baggage handlers to transfer bags from one aircraft to another, which leads to lost luggage. You should also arrive at the airport and check your bag with plenty of time before your flight, for the same reason. More handling time means a better chance your bags will make it to your plane.
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Tag your bags
You should also put luggage tags on your checked bags. Not only is it helpful for agents looking for your lost bag, it also makes it easier for you to identify your bag. Use strong labels or tags that won’t fall off or get snagged. For extra security, use tags that hide your personal information like your address and phone number inside the tag.
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Label the inside of your luggage too
Put a label inside your bag with all your details, including your travel itinerary. If the airport staff know where you’re heading and have all your contact information, your bag is more likely to find its way back to you. Plus, it’s a good backup in case the tags on the outside of your bag somehow get damaged or fall off.
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Use GPS tags
You’ve probably heard about GPS tags… They’re one of the most essential travel items right now, and for good reason. When you put a GPS tag, like Apple AirTags or Tile Pros, in your checked baggage, you’ll be able to track its location anywhere in the world. No matter where your bag ends up, you’ll know about it. This kind of information is invaluable when you’re trying to get your hands on your lost luggage. You can contact the exact airport where your bag is stranded and fast-track the process of being reunited.
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Make your bag stand out
A GPS tag will help you find which airport your bag is sitting in… But it’s not much help if your black suitcase is piled in with hundreds of other near identical black suitcases. Make your luggage stand out by using brightly coloured bags, handle wraps, or coloured tape. The goal is to make it easy to spot your bag so it can be tracked down successfully.
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Don’t overpack your bags
Heavy, overstuffed bags are more likely to get stuck on the conveyer belts… Which means they’re more likely to be misdirected or get stranded. The same goes for backpacks with loose straps. Tie down any loose ends and avoid any unnecessary strings or bows that could get snagged, and you’re more likely to greet your luggage after landing.
Tear off old tags
They say old tags lose bags so be sure to remove all old baggage tags before you check your luggage. This will avoid any confusion about where your bag is supposed to go.
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Keep the baggage receipt
Hold on to those baggage receipts! Baggage numbers usually get cleared from airline systems after a few days, so hold on to that precious information, and you’re more likely to find your lost luggage. We like to stick them in our passport sleeves for safekeeping.
Take a picture of your bag
If you’re worried about losing your luggage, you can also take a photo of your bag. That way, you can easily show the agent what your bag looks like. Every detail helps!
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Prepare for the worst
All these airport tips will help you avoid losing your luggage, however, in these hectic times, it’s best to prepare for the event that your bag may go missing. Here’s how to do it.
Pack all essentials in your carry-on
If you are checking in your luggage, be sure to pack a smart carry-on. Keep all your valuables close and pack a change of clothes, pyjamas, some toiletries, and all medications in your carry-on. Basically, anything you can’t live without should you go in your hand luggage. If your checked bag does end up going wayward, at least you won’t have to replace all your valuables and your essentials will get you by for a few days.
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Get travel insurance
We’ve all heard the saying, “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” This has never been truer. If you do end up losing your luggage, you’ll be glad you’ve got travel insurance. This is because your insurer can reimburse you for any purchases you need to make on your trip while waiting for your lost luggage, such as clothes and toiletries.
If your luggage never gets returned (worst case scenario), your insurer will compensate you for everything in your lost bag. Before you travel, make a list of all the items in your checked luggage and jot down their value. That way, you can get accurate compensation and you won’t have to try and remember everything in your bag.
Lastly, be sure to choose an insurance policy that definitely covers you for these kinds of things. You can always call the insurer and they can let you know if you’ve got cover for lost luggage.
Do you have any top tips on how not to lose your luggage on your next flight? Let us know in the comments below…