Few feelings are worse than the dread that seeps in while watching the luggage carousel go ’round and ’round as the crowd slowly dissipates—and you’re still waiting for your luggage to show up. When it comes to making sure checked bags arrive safely at your destination, you are at the mercy of the airlines. Here are a few tips to give you better odds.
1. TAGS, TAGS, TAGS
Baggage handlers aren’t known for being gentle. Outer luggage tags can go missing, so it’s not a bad idea to attach more than one. You might even consider embroidering your name and cellphone number on your suitcase, or at least writing it in permanent marker.
2. PACK YOUR ITINERARY
Airline staff members occasionally open delayed bags when looking for contact information. Include a copy of your flight itinerary and travel plans in a prominent place of checked bags. If your bag gets caught up somewhere, the information will make it easier for airline staff to forward your luggage to you.
3. ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT ON TIME
Better yet? Arrive early. Airlines suggest arriving two hours before your departure—and it’s not just because of security lines. Loading luggage takes time; if you arrive late, your luggage might not make it on the plane with you.
4. DOUBLE CHECK THE TAG
Mistakes happen. Make sure to check the airport code of your final destination. If it doesn’t match the one on your boarding pass, bring it up to the airline personnel so they can correct the problem.
5. AVOID SHORT LAYOVERS
Direct flights are best, but they’re not always a guarantee. While short layovers can cut down on travel time, they also increase the odds that your luggage will miss the connection. Again, just because you make it onto the plane doesn’t mean your luggage travels with you.
6. MAKE YOUR SUITCASE IDENTIFIABLE
Why do all these suitcases look the same? Because they are the same. Weary travelers could mistake your bag for their own. Make your luggage more identifiable by adding ribbon or jazzy duct tape to it.
7. TAKE A PICTURE
Have you seen this bag? Snap a few pictures of your suitcase, including the items packed inside. If your bag gets lost, having something to show the airport staff could help reunite with you with it.