How to avoid losing luggage

It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: having your luggage go missing. Unfortunately, it does happen. And when you consider how many different bags are checked at airports every day, it’s actually pretty surprising it doesn’t happen more often.

Shy of not checking your bags and simply packing a carry-on (which isn’t always possible), there’s no way to guarantee that your luggage will never be misplaced. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the risk.

Table of Contents

Choose A Direct Flight When Possible

A lot of times, luggage goes missing when a connecting flight has a short layover. In these instances, the airport crew may simply not have time to get luggage transported from one plane to the next, especially if there has been a delay for any reason. This is where it can be helpful to book direct flights without layovers whenever possible. The fewer stops your plane has to make (and the fewer plane changes), the less your luggage needs to be moved around and the less likely it is to be misplaced.

Make Sure Your Luggage Stands Out

Sometimes, luggage will make it safely all the way to the baggage carousel before going missing. This most often happens when bags look too much alike, and an unsuspecting traveler accidentally grabs the wrong bag in a hurry.

Taking steps to help your bag stand out from others on the luggage carousel can go a long way in avoiding this common problem. Choose bright-colored bags or luggage with distinguishable patterns. Or, if you already have a plain/neutral-colored bag, consider adding a colorful ribbon or other unique markings to help yours stand out.

And of course, always make sure you attach a luggage tag to all your checked bags. This tag should include your name and a reliable method of contact, whether it be cellphone or email address.

Check-In For Your Flight With Time To Spare

If you have bags to check before your flight, make sure you check in as early as possible. This will give the airport workers plenty of time to get your bags where they need to go before your plane takes off. Generally, your luggage should have time to get to the plane as long as you check in at least a half-hour before your flight, but the earlier the better. Many airlines will allow passengers to check in for their flights several hours before takeoff.

Consider A Smart Luggage Tag

Did you know you can actually purchase luggage tags that have built-in microchips? These unique and innovative tags allow you to track your bags using an app on your smartphone. This can be a great way to see where your luggage is in real-time, giving you added peace of mind as you travel. And of course, if your bag does go missing, you can easily find out where it is.

Consider Shipping Your Bags

If you have anything especially valuable that you need to bring with you, consider shipping your bags through a reputable service instead of checking them at the airport. This is a more common practice than you may think!

If Your Luggage Does Go Missing…

Hopefully, you will never be in a situation where your luggage goes missing. If this does happen to you, though, there are some things to keep in mind. For starters, any time you travel, it’s a good idea to have some form of travel insurance in place that will cover lost or damaged baggage. This way, you can receive the funds you need to pick up some essentials when you arrive at your destination.

If any of your luggage goes missing, make sure to report it to the airport’s lost and found office immediately. These offices are usually located near the baggage claim carousels. Here, you can provide some information on what your luggage looks like, as well as your contact information. If your luggage is found by the airline, they can get in touch with you and make sure your bags make their way to where you are.

Having your luggage go missing can be a huge hassle, but there are steps you can take to make this misfortune less likely to befall you. From there, you and your baggage can arrive safely at your destination!

How to avoid losing luggage

Simon Bond/Moment/Getty Images

Lost luggage happens, and it sucks, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Let’s look first at a few tips on keeping your bags from traveling without you; at the bottom of the page, we’ll talk about what to do if an airline has lost luggage (you’re less likely to misplace baggage on trains and buses or in taxis, but that happens, too).

Carry On Those Wayward Bags

The best way to avoid lost luggage is to carry it on, but that’s not necessarily convenient if you’ll be heading out on a long-term trip, or want to carry large liquids. Airlines usually allow you to carry on two bags — one daypack-sized bag and one that the airline will define as a purse, tote or such. I can pack for a month’s travel in my carry-on sized expandable backpack, provided I’m careful with liquids and gels.

Check the airline’s rules before you fly, and don’t check bags unless you need to for your liquids and gels.

Label Your Baggage Outside

Before checking a bag, label it inside and out. Labelling bags is only a little helpful to the folks looking for your lost luggage, but very helpful when you need to claim them. Use the outside tag holder if the bag came with one *and* use one of the tags you’ll find at airline check in counters; tie that tag’s elasticized string around your bag’s handle.

Keep the stubs you get when you check in, as you’ll need them if you bag does go missing.

Label Your Baggage Inside, Too

I duct tape a card with my name and address to the inside lid of my backpack and leave a copy of my itinerary and tickets inside in plain sight in the hopes that someone might actually read it if trying to unite me with my bag. To my travel itinerary, I paper clip a sheet with my cell phone number and my home phone and write “phone number” on it in relevant languages. If your bag is discovered, it’s far more likely it’ll find its way home to you if it has your details inside.

Color Tag Your Bag

Get a small roll of bright tape and wrap a piece around something on your bag, like a backpack strap or handle. You’ll then be able to spot your bag in a whole pile of similar-looking bags or in someone else’s hand. You’ll also be able to list it as an identifying mark if you do have to report it as lost luggage. If your backpack is plain, black, common with travelers, and has no labels on the outside, it’s going to be a lot tricker for the airline to successfully track it down.

Keep the tape while traveling for labeling all kinds of stuff, like your food in a hostel kitchen fridge. Bright survey tape (hardware store), though not as sticky, works as a tag.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Descriptions

Take a picture of your bag, preferably with color tag, and store it in your phone’s camera or in your digital camera. Print it out and keep it with your passport in your carry on or passport holder, too. If you have to report a missing bag, you have an easy way (your phone) to show the lost luggage people what your bag looks like. If you have it on your phone and have a hard copy, you can leave the copy at the baggage counter if you have to leave the airport without your bag.

Tear Off Old Tags

Before checking your baggage, rip off any old baggage tags another airline may have put on your bags — big tags looped around a handle with flight information on them. (I also figure that if baggage handlers don’t have to tear off my backpack’s baggage tags from the last flight, that’s a little less time my bag’s literally being handled, lessening damage opportunities.) I also change the elasticized tag to that of my current airline.

Lock It Up

The harder it is to get into your bag, the less chance it will happen, so I lock my backpack with TSA approved locks. If someone really wants to steal a suitcase at an airport, they may move on to an easier target if mine is locked. I multitask my TSA approved locks while traveling, too.

Be Waiting for Your Bags

Get to the area of the airport where your baggage will be being unloaded as fast as possible after your flight lands. If you’re going to the baggage claim, you’ll arrive long before the bags; look above big oval carousels for your flight number — that flight’s bags will be dumped down a chute to that carousel. Watch for your color tag, if you decided to attach one. If bags are being unloaded on the tarmac from a small plane, watch yours until it’s in your hand (you can probably walk up and grab it).

What Should I Do About Lost Luggage?

If your bag doesn’t show up on the baggage carousel, look immediately for the airline’s nearby baggage office or window (this would be the lost luggage people) and report it there at once (the office is near — it’s probably not on another level). Don’t panic — your bag may just be delayed and coming in on another flight. Give the window clerk your baggage stubs and wait for further instruction.

What Will Happen When I Report Lost Luggage?

The clerk at the baggage claim window will track your bag on the computer first, using your stubs. If the bag isn’t on another flight, the clerk will begin calling around to track it down or send baggage guys who work for the airline to look for it. Describe your stuff and produce a picture of your baggage now. Use this time to get out your itinerary, as it can be wildly frustrating to listen to this search process.

The clerk will next ask you to fill in a claim form with pertinent personal info (use your itinerary) and bag description. Supply a way to be reached (like a working phone) over the next few days. Give the clerk your bag’s picture and keep a copy of the form. It’s always a good idea to take a photo of your luggage before you fly, so that you can show them exactly what it looked like if it does happen to go missing.

You’ll then be told that the airline will look for your baggage and return it to you if it is found. Yes, ominous words. It’s now safe to assume it may be officially lost luggage, unless the clerk tracks it as having been delivered to the carousel — in that case, it may be stolen and you will now need to contact the police.

What the Airline Will Do If Your Baggage Is Gone

If the airline finds your bag, they’ll get it to you. If not, the airline will try to replace the lost luggage itself with the closest match possible (this didn’t work out very well in my dismal personal experience).

You’re entitled to contents recompense — varies by airline, but policy limits amounts; you may not get what you’d like. Do find out if you’ll be reimbursed if you buy replacements for items from your lost luggage now (while you’re traveling) like clothes and toothpaste.

Do keep your claim form for checking progress.

This Is Why You Should Get Travel Insurance

I’m a great believer that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. And while I get it primarily for the medical cover while I’m overseas, having travel insurance will also help you out if you happen to have your luggage lost by your airline.

As soon as your luggage has been declared lost, you should call your travel insurance company to ask for advice on what to do next. They may tell you to wait to see if the luggage is recovered by the airline or they may reimburse you for any emergency purchases you need to make while you wait, such as toiletries and clothes. And if your airline refuses to compensate you for losing your luggage? Your travel insurance almost certainly will.

As you patiently wait for your bag to roll down the carousel, there’s always the awful suspicion that it may have been lost. Then, as if by magic, your luggage appears among the very last batch, and all is right with the world.

It’s true that complaints of lost luggage have dropped considerably over the last several years, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. Sure, you could refuse to check a bag and vow to travel only with a carry on, but that won’t work for all passengers. And what if your bag is gate checked at the last minute?

If you must check a bag, these simple strategies could keep your bag from being lost forever.

Allow Yourself (And Your Bags) Adequate Time to Connect

If your trip involves a connecting flight, make sure you have plenty of time built in to your itinerary to go from your arrival and departure gates. Nobody wants to hang around the airport longer than necessary, but if you cut it too close, your bag may not have adequate time to make the connection.

And don’t forget that connections on some international flights require passengers to pick up luggage at baggage claim, exit, recheck in, and drop bags off again.

Luggage Tags Are a Good Idea

Most luggage will already have some sort of ID tag dangling off the handle, but if yours does not, make it a priority to attach one before departing.

There are endless varieties to choose from, be it a classic leather number or something more technologically advanced. Tags with special QR codes or embedded microchips make it easier to determine the exact location of your bag. That can come in especially handy if the airline-issued adhesive tags should somehow manage to get separated from your bag en route.

When choosing a luggage tag, opt from something well made that won’t damage easily, and in colors or patterns that make it easier to identify your bag. Materials like neoprene, plastic, silicone, and stainless steel may hold up better in the elements.

It was once standard practice to include your name, telephone number, and address on luggage tags. In the pre-internet days of travel, there were only so many ways to reunite a passenger with a lost bag. Nowadays, you might prefer to include only your email address and telephone number, or even social media handles.

For privacy’s sake, some travelers are more comfortable limiting personal info to just their first initial and last name along with a telephone number.

Place Your Itinerary and Contact Info Inside Your Bag

Again, bags have been known to wriggle free of those adhesive Tyvek luggage tags supplied by the airline. If you happen to have an additional luggage tag, great, but there’s always the possibility of that, too, coming off. As an extra precaution, include a printed copy of your complete travel itinerary inside and contact information inside your bag, on top, where it’s easy to spot. That way, airline staff won’t have too much sleuthing to do should they need to forward your lost bag to you.

Check in Early to Avoid Luggage Being Delayed or Lost

There are plenty of reasons why the airlines suggest passengers arrive several hours before departure, but baggage is certainly a biggie. It takes some time for baggage handlers to transport all those bags from the check-in drop off all the way over to the airplane. Those running dangerously close to the wire may clear the long lines at security, but the bag you checked last minute may not be so lucky.

Avoid nail-biter sprints to the gate and lost luggage by arriving at the airport at the suggested time.

Consider Shipping Your Luggage

Airlines continue to hit passengers with higher bag fees, but is the service provided really worth what they’re asking? Sure, airlines offer some protections when bags are lost, but collecting on a claim against your carrier can require a lot of time and energy. The airlines will often do whatever it takes to drag out your claim until it is no longer valid and they’re legally off the hook.

It’s a different story at UPS or FedEx, where it’s far easier to track packages (in this case, the packages are your bags) and claims against lost or damaged packages require less, if any, teeth pulling.

Of course, the other perk of shipping bags is you don’t have to cart them to and from the airport or navigate a new city while dragging them behind. Just ship what you need and it’s there when you arrive. Obviously, you might have to carefully consider the shipping time and maybe ship a few days in advance, or wait a day or so on the other end.

For families carrying a lot of bags, or really anyone who identifies as a heavy packer, you can stand to save a good bit of money by shipping ahead.

Take a Pic, It’ll Last Longer

Lose a bag and the airline will ask you to complete an itemized list of the contents of your bag, along with the monetary value of each item.

If your memory isn’t as sharp as it once was, or you just want photographic evidence, snap a quick pic of your bag’s contents before zipping it shut.

In fact, take a photo of the outside of your bag as well. It could come in handy if your bag is lost and the airline requests a description of the bag. A pic will help them better identify your bag.

And once your bag has been tagged at the bag drop, take a photo of the tag numbers before it heads down to the baggage handlers.

Add Some Personality and Make Your Bag Easier to Spot

There’s a good reason why airport PA systems constantly remind you to check your tag at baggage claim before exiting the airport. So many bags really do look the same and, after a long day of travel, it’s easy to mistakenly grab a bag that kinda looks like yours, but actually belongs to someone else.

To help yourself better spot your bag, and also to prevent others from mistaking your bag for their bag, consider adding a little extra color to your bag. Wrap a patterned luggage belt around the center of your suitcase, ideally one in a bold color or easy to recognize pattern.

Splashy luggage tags and stickers will also help set your bag apart from all the other little black wheeled suitcases of the world.

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When it comes to air travel, there’s probably nothing quite as frustrating or vacation-ruining as discovering your bags didn’t arrive when you did. Fortunately, travelers can take a few steps to help prevent their bags from getting misplaced during travel. Check out these six tips on how to avoid losing your luggage on your next flight.

Stick to a carry-on

By not giving the airline a chance to lose your luggage, you give yourself the best odds of avoiding the headaches that come with misplaced suitcases. The only surefire way to avoid the airline losing your luggage is to bring only what you can carry with you. This way, your bags never leave your sight and they arrive in your destination right alongside you. If you can condense your packing list to a single carry-on, you also avoid the checked bag fees that many airlines charge these days.

To keep your packing list light, choose clothing items that you can easily mix and match so you can pack fewer pieces in your carry-on. Also, skip the toiletries and other inexpensive items that you can easily pick up after you arrive. Shoes are another common space-hog that should be kept to a minimum when it comes to packing a carry-on.

For more tips on how to pack lightly and avoid checking bags when flying, check out our guide on how to travel with just one carry-on.

Make your bag easily identifiable

There isn’t a terrible amount of diversity when it comes to suitcase styles and colors, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to discover that a jetlagged traveler accidentally mistook your all-black, four-wheeled spinner suitcase for his all-black, four-wheeled spinner suitcase in his quest to get out of the airport and to his hotel as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, an honest mistake can mean you may never see your luggage again. Making your suitcase easily identifiable, though, can help avoid this situation and ensure no one accidentally mistakes your suitcase for their own.

If you’ve ever noticed colorful straps wrapped around suitcases as they spin around the baggage carousel but weren’t quite sure what they were for, consider the mystery solved. Adding straps, ribbons and other bursts of color to your suitcase makes it easy to spot your bag as it comes down the carousel, and it will also help prevent other travelers from mistaking it for their own bags. Luggage straps that wrap around your bag can also keep your luggage secure and prevent it from accidentally opening. Pick a strap or ribbon that will clearly mark your bag as your own to avoid possible mix-ups.

A sturdy luggage tag is another must when it comes to avoiding losing your luggage. Flimsy paper tags provided by the airlines can easily rip off during transit, and without a luggage tag, airline staff won’t know how to contact the bag’s owner if they need to. A leather or plastic luggage tag with your identifying information is much more likely to withstand the wear and tear of travel, and a brightly colored one will also help you easily identify your bag.

Digital tags are now being developed for some airlines, too, allowing you to track your bag on your smartphone. Genius.

Give the airline enough time to get your bag where it needs to go

Arriving at the last minute for your flight and scheduling tight layovers both increase the chances your bag won’t arrive when you do. Why? Baggage handlers need time to get your bag from the check-in counter to the plane, and by pushing your check-in to the very last minute of the check-in window, you’re giving the airline staff the least amount of time possible to make sure your bag gets onto the plane. The same stands for short layovers – if your layover is so short that you’re running from one terminal to another to try to catch your next flight, there’s a chance your bag won’t have enough time to make the connection.

Arrive early if you’re checking a bag, even if you’ve already checked in for your flight online, so your bag has plenty of time to make it onto the plane. While you don’t need to schedule excessive layovers, try to avoid very short ones so your bags have enough time to transfer between planes.

Double check the airport code

Check-in agents are only human, and humans make mistakes from time to time. When you go to check your bag at the airport, ask to double check the destination airport code on the luggage tag the representative sticks onto your bag. In the rare case it happens to be the wrong airport, you’ll avoid the hassle of trying to track down your bag after you land.

Book a direct flight

The fewer times the airline needs to handle your luggage, the fewer opportunities there are for your luggage to get lost. With every connection, your luggage is being unloaded, transported across the airport and then loaded again onto another plane, all of which present opportunities for your luggage to get lost. By booking a direct flight, you significantly decrease the chances your luggage will be lost since it will only be handled twice: once to be loaded onto the plane and once more when it’s unloaded.

Be mindful of your luggage

Sometimes, it isn’t the airline that misplaces the luggage but the traveler herself. After all, traveling can be a hectic experience. Between the chaos of check-in lines, security screenings and terminal navigation, one could get all the way to the gate before realizing he arrived at the airport with a carry-on that’s now nowhere to be found. Alternatively, you may be so tired from the flight that you walk straight past baggage claim after arriving and head directly to your hotel, only realizing hours later that you’re missing your suitcase. Be mindful of your luggage as you make your way through the airport, both when you’re departing and arriving, and should you accidentally misplace your luggage while at the airport, be sure to contact airport security as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, even all the proper preparation can’t always prevent the airline from misplacing your luggage. If you find yourself without your bags once you land, though, all is not lost. Check out our guide on what to do when your luggage is lost.

(Main image: Andre Um used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

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Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.

Because vacation is better with clean underwear.

Despite our best attempts to control every single aspect of the travel experience, sometimes things run amok in unexpected ways.

And one nightmare situation that every traveler dreads? Lost luggage.

However impossible it may be to control checked luggage once it leaves your eyesight, there are a few precautions travelers can take to increase the chances that luggage makes it safely to its final destination.

It’s most often during connections that bags get lost. If possible, choose a direct flight to give your bag less opportunity to go missing. When forced to travel with a connection, give yourself ample time to ensure that checked baggage has enough time to make the connection, too.

Traveling with smart luggage helps passengers keep an eye on their luggage as it travels with (or without) them. Some airlines, like Delta, have their own tracking systems that scan bags as they pass through each stage of travel.

And for those who leave an item at a TSA security checkpoint, the agency has an entire lost-and-found section where people can claim their misplaced items.

Travelers should bear in mind that they are not the only people coming in contact with their bag — and that they are not the only people capable of human error in getting their bag to its final destination. At the counter, make sure that the airline agent places the proper tag on checked luggage. Eliminate the possibility of another traveler grabbing the wrong back at the baggage carousel by customizing your suitcase with a cool luggage tag, ribbons, or pins.

As cool as travel tags from previous trips may look, be sure to remove all old tags before heading out on a journey to keep bags from ending up in the wrong destination. It also will not hurt to tuck in any protrusions (like shoulder straps) that could get caught on a conveyor belt and pull a bag off course.

However, the best way to pack for a trip is to assume that your luggage can go (and might) go missing. Travelers should avoid packing any sentimental or irreplaceable items — just in the event that it does indeed go missing.

If, after preparing for the worst, the worst does happen, report lost luggage immediately to airline staff.

It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: having your luggage go missing. Unfortunately, it does happen. And when you consider how many different bags are checked at airports every day, it’s actually pretty surprising it doesn’t happen more often.

Shy of not checking your bags and simply packing a carry-on (which isn’t always possible), there’s no way to guarantee that your luggage will never be misplaced. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the risk.

Table of Contents

Choose A Direct Flight When Possible

A lot of times, luggage goes missing when a connecting flight has a short layover. In these instances, the airport crew may simply not have time to get luggage transported from one plane to the next, especially if there has been a delay for any reason. This is where it can be helpful to book direct flights without layovers whenever possible. The fewer stops your plane has to make (and the fewer plane changes), the less your luggage needs to be moved around and the less likely it is to be misplaced.

Make Sure Your Luggage Stands Out

Sometimes, luggage will make it safely all the way to the baggage carousel before going missing. This most often happens when bags look too much alike, and an unsuspecting traveler accidentally grabs the wrong bag in a hurry.

Taking steps to help your bag stand out from others on the luggage carousel can go a long way in avoiding this common problem. Choose bright-colored bags or luggage with distinguishable patterns. Or, if you already have a plain/neutral-colored bag, consider adding a colorful ribbon or other unique markings to help yours stand out.

And of course, always make sure you attach a luggage tag to all your checked bags. This tag should include your name and a reliable method of contact, whether it be cellphone or email address.

Check-In For Your Flight With Time To Spare

If you have bags to check before your flight, make sure you check in as early as possible. This will give the airport workers plenty of time to get your bags where they need to go before your plane takes off. Generally, your luggage should have time to get to the plane as long as you check in at least a half-hour before your flight, but the earlier the better. Many airlines will allow passengers to check in for their flights several hours before takeoff.

Consider A Smart Luggage Tag

Did you know you can actually purchase luggage tags that have built-in microchips? These unique and innovative tags allow you to track your bags using an app on your smartphone. This can be a great way to see where your luggage is in real-time, giving you added peace of mind as you travel. And of course, if your bag does go missing, you can easily find out where it is.

Consider Shipping Your Bags

If you have anything especially valuable that you need to bring with you, consider shipping your bags through a reputable service instead of checking them at the airport. This is a more common practice than you may think!

If Your Luggage Does Go Missing…

Hopefully, you will never be in a situation where your luggage goes missing. If this does happen to you, though, there are some things to keep in mind. For starters, any time you travel, it’s a good idea to have some form of travel insurance in place that will cover lost or damaged baggage. This way, you can receive the funds you need to pick up some essentials when you arrive at your destination.

If any of your luggage goes missing, make sure to report it to the airport’s lost and found office immediately. These offices are usually located near the baggage claim carousels. Here, you can provide some information on what your luggage looks like, as well as your contact information. If your luggage is found by the airline, they can get in touch with you and make sure your bags make their way to where you are.

Having your luggage go missing can be a huge hassle, but there are steps you can take to make this misfortune less likely to befall you. From there, you and your baggage can arrive safely at your destination!

Most travellers have been the victims of delayed or lost luggage at the airport. Some people find their things later the same day, after a few weeks or sometimes never at all. It can be frustrating and full of loss. Getting your luggage misplaced can sometimes be inevitable. However, these few tips can help in lessening the chances of them getting lost.

Customize your Luggage

Ever seen people at the airport with very conspicuous suitcases and you think they are drawing unnecessary attention to themselves? The truth is that they are in fact being smart. Bags with huge drawings, shouting art and other extraordinary features are bound to be easily noticed by the cabin crew. They will somehow form a subconscious attachment to them, making them 99% less likely to get lost. Try to make your suitcase easily noticeable by changing it outward look. This is even more necessary for frequent travellers.

Carry-on your Valuables

Things like laptops, phones, documents and other valuables should always go with you in your carry-on bag. Even if you forget them in the overhead compartments, it will be easier to trace it back than checked-in luggage.

Put details on Luggage

Aside from customizing your suitcases, you should also have your details printed on the back and front of the luggage. That way, even if the luggage gets lost, you will be tracked down and the items will be returned to you. Have contacts such as your name and email address and even WhatsApp contact through which you can be reached no matter your geographic location.

Back-Up Data

It is always best to be safe than sorry. Although you shouldn’t anticipate your luggage getting lost, it is advisable to have all your important data on phones and laptops backed up. Sometimes the lost luggage is never found, and in such cases, having had a backup will save you from great loss.

Take a photo of your luggage

Before checking in your luggage, make sure you take a comprehensive photo of its contents. That way, when the luggage is recovered by the airlines, you will have proof of ownership. Not having the latter can sometimes delay the process of luggage restoration.

Check and Keep Luggage Tag

Before boarding on the plane, always countercheck the luggage tag that is usually placed at the back of your boarding pass. Ensure that the details of your destination are correct to avoid any confusion. Once you have this settled, keep that until the end of your trip so that you can use it for reference if necessary.

I’m a frequent flyer, I’m ALWAYS booking non-stop flights because I’m terrified of my luggage not being transferred to the correct plane and getting lost. This happened to almost every person I know. This summer I’m planning a trip and price for non-stop flights are just unreasonable (£1800 instead of £700). Are there any tips how to minimize this from happening?

I will be travelling with Emirates airlines

8 Answers 8

You can never guarantee anything, but I have only had bags delayed at a transfer once (twice more I have had bags delayed, but at least one of the times the bag simply failed to make the plane, and in the other it didn’t make a connection because of weight issues, not because it was a connection per se).

The best advice I can give? Don’t book flights with tight connections. Give yourself plenty of time between flights so that if your inbound flight at a connection is delayed, they still have time to get your bags to the outbound flight. My situation involved a 75-minute connection turning into a 15-minute connection because of flight delays. We made our connecting flight, but our bags were delayed until the next day.

One other thing you can do: bring enough things in your carry-on bag so that you won’t mind if your bag is delayed. When we have more than one checked bag, we distribute things in both bags so that if one bag didn’t show up, we’d still be alright with what’s in the other bag. If all your underwear is in one bag, Murphy’s law will make it that bag. 🙂

Finally, remember that most hotels can give you emergency toiletries, and in many cases, it’s not terribly inconvenient to run to a nearby store to buy what you need. In our situation our San Diego hotel was near a Target store, so we drove our rental car there, bought some t-shirts, socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc., and were fine. Eventually we’d need all these things anyway.

1h connection time and never had the issue again. And of course, I learned to pack underwear and night-gear in my carry-on 🙂 – Matthieu M. Feb 23 ’18 at 7:39

Never put anything in your luggage you can not live without, if you need to take something that is very important for you, keep it in your carry on.

As the other answers state, make sure you have enough time between flights but not too much. One to five hours are the numbers I have seen reported on this site more than once. If your layover is long, say 8 hours or more, your best bet may be to not check it through.

The rest of this answer is more how to lower the impact of luggage that does not make the same flight you do. And on how to get it returned to you when it does miss the flight.

Have one set of clean clothes (from the skin out) in your hand luggage or at least clean underwear, so that if your luggage is late, you can clean up with your own clothes.
When luggage goes missing, mostly it is just delayed and may follow you to your final destination the next day or, (depending on the airline and airport) can be collected the next day. Having some clothes makes you will not be caught out.

Make sure you have your contact details on and in the case, so that you can be contacted when they find the case without the flight labels. If you can be reached by phone while on holiday, put your phone number (in international format, so with the + and your country code) as the top line. For the address, either put in your temporary address on the way out and your home address on the way home.
Or, if you have someone near home who will be home while your house is empty, their address and phone number.
There are many different kinds of suitcase labels available, (and you can even make your own if you can not find anything.)
And put the information inside your case.

And be sure to report your luggage missing, with the address and telephone number you can be reached.
Ask the staff of the lost luggage office what to do and what you get for not having your luggage right there. Some people report having been given nice amount of money to buy emergency supplies. (Others have reported not getting anything, so you will have to wait and see.)