You’ve spent weeks planning this vacation, but it can all get ruined in an instant when the airline loses your luggage. It happens fairly frequently: last year, two million unlucky travelers reported lost luggage. While the majority were able to retrieve their belongings, the experience certainly put a damper on their trip. And nearly 70,000 of them never got their luggage back at all!
Here’s what you can to do top prevent your luggage from getting lost, and what to do in case Murphy’s Law strikes and the airline tells you, ‘We can’t find your things.’
Take off old tags
To avoid confusion, remove any tags from your earlier flights, and place a new one with complete information: your full name, your destination, and the flight number. However, there are cases when the tag gets lost in transit. As back-up print out a piece of paper with your name, contact information (including cell phone and email), the hotel you are staying in and your general itinerary. Place this in a prominent place in your luggage so the airline crew can locate you when they find the bag.
Tie a yellow ribbon
Or, if not yellow, any brightly colored ribbon. This will help your luggage stand out among the sea of other luggages. There’s always a chance that someone has exactly the same bag, and will accidentally grab yours by mistake. The ribbon—or any other distinct feature, like a unique bagtag or a large, funky keychain—will prevent confusion.
Fly direct, if you can
The less times your luggage has to be handled, the less risk that it gets lost. In some cases, though, a direct flight isn’t possible. Try to look for a connection where you stay in the same plane.
Go to the airport early
If you board the plane with just minutes to spare, there’s a huge chance that your luggage won’t make it to the cut-off. Try to get to the airport as early as possible. That way, your things will be one of the first to be placed on the aircraft.
Hand-carry essentials and valuables
You never know when Murphy’s law will strike. Losing luggage is stressful enough, but don’t let it ruin your trip. It’s best to put jewelry, valuables, medicine, and a spare set of clothes in your hand-carry. Also find out the maximum liability that the airline has for reimbursing lost valuables. IF it’s just $3,000, avoid leaving anything that exceeds that amount in your luggage.
Keep a list
Make a list of everything you put in the luggage. Most airlines will ask for a list of the contents when you file a claim for lost things. IF you don’t have time, take pictures instead: line up the clothes on the bed, group accessories or other items, and snap away. (Read our tips on how to pack everything in one luggage.)
Your emergency guide
If your luggage gets lost, don’t exit the airport without talking to a representative from the airline and filling out the essential forms. Get the contact number of the representative, including name and the direct phone line or office local. Be friendly, because 1) it’s not his fault that the luggage got lost and 2) he will be more likely to help you if you aren’t screaming at him. Ask when you can follow-up, how you can claim it once it’s found, and what the policies are if the luggage isn’t retrieved.
Photo from riverwalkjournal.com