You’ve probably heard the popular travel quote “It’s not the Destination, it’s the Journey that matters”. While I have always agreed with this on many levels it has renewed meaning now for travelers and how they manage their luggage.
A great trip always starts with a traveler and their luggage arriving at the same time and place safely and smoothly. Below are our insider advice and steps you can start using immediately to help your bags arrive to your destination with you.
Pack light and Carry-on - First of all, here are some facts and stats: Carry-on luggage travels and arrives with you so packing light and using carry-on luggage is always the best option.
If you have to check luggage, according to airline reporting agencies and sites, you’re more likely to have your checked luggage delayed or damaged than actually being totally lost.
Okay, that is more reassuring to know that my underwear along with prized possessions in my checked luggage have a better chance of reuniting with me than being lost forever. However, we can do even better by implementing practical steps in advance to decrease the chances of being separated from your luggage.
Book direct -non-stop flights – Non-stop early AM flights have the best timeframe for on time performance as airports and air traffic are less busy. Given a choice, consider driving to an airport a little farther away for a direct flight instead of taking a connecting flight from a closer airport.
Limit connections - If you must take a connecting flight(s), limit the number of connections to as few as possible and try to allow 2 hours minimum at your connecting airports between flights to help with delays domestically and up to 3 hours for international flights so your luggage has a better chance of joining you on your next flight.
Be choosy on connecting airports – Decrease the chance of having flights canceled or delayed by being selective on airports.
a) Domestically, try to avoid originating or connecting through these airports:
Newark, NYC airports, Reagan National, Orlando, Miami, Denver, Baltimore and Charlotte,
b) Internationally, try to avoid originating or connecting through these airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Stockholm, Oslo, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris
To Check or Ship? Instead of checking your luggage consider shipping it ahead instead so it arrives before you do…
Here is a link to a luggage shipping company we use that has an easy-to-read website on how this option works along with pricing: Axus Travel App - Luggage Free (we may receive some compensation if you decided to use this option from this link)
Invest in the best luggage possible in terms of comfort, durability, and security. Over the years, I have personally switched to only using hard sided checked luggage over soft sided luggage for durability.
Stand out in the crowd - Consider a suitcase with eye catching unique color or pattern so your luggage stands out and is easily identifiable. Or make your existing neutral colored suitcase stand out with bright, bold colored tags, straps, belts and handle grips that are color coordinated. Unique patches, stickers and bright colored ribbons also work well.
Secure and identify your luggage – Use TSA approved combination locks and clearly write or affix your contact information inside all your luggage (taping a business card with clear packing tape works fine) along with multiple coordinated luggage tags on the exterior.
Luggage Insurance - Purchase travel insurance that contains coverages for lost, damaged or delayed luggage. Many travel reward credit cards also offer luggage insurance as part of their benefits so if your commercial air flights are booked entirely with their cards you automatically have some luggage insurance (check your coverage in advance and bring this with you).
Invest in GPS tracking tags -Get peace of mind by always knowing where your luggage is or is not by having a Smart GPS tracking tag that works with your mobile phone. Great trackers can provide up-to-date information and keep you posted on where to find your bags before you can even clear customs.
Apple Air Tags are very popular for this and will help you track your luggage at the airport, hotel and throughout your trip for ease of locating and peace of mind. Another GPS tracking tag that is recommended for Android phone users is Tile.
Day of Travel:
A picture is worth a thousand words -Take photos on your phone of the contents of your luggage and the outside of your luggage with your straps and tags, etc. so can have these handy if need to file a claim
Pack your treasures in your carry on - Pack all your important documents and valuable with you in your carry-on luggage…FYI, below is information directly from an airline’s website about their baggage responsibility liability for checked bag so you’ll know what not to pack in your checked luggage:
Airline assumes no responsibility and will not be liable for money; jewelry; photographic, video, and optical equipment; computers and other electronic equipment; computer software; silverware and china, fragile or perishable items; liquids; precious gems and metals; negotiable instruments; securities; business or personal documents; samples; items intended for sale; paintings, artifacts, and other works of art; antiques; collectors’ items; unique or irreplaceable items; heirlooms; research, experimental, and scholastic items and documents; manuscripts; furs; irreplaceable books or publications; and similar valuables contained in carryon or checked baggage. Passengers should not transport these items in or as checked baggage.
At the Airport:
Get your bag ready - Remove old airline tags and make sure your luggage is locked with TSA approved locks.
Arrive early - Check your luggage 90 minute prior to departure for domestic flights and at least 2 hours for international flights to make sure they get through security checks and are on the airplane.
Watch your bags - At the luggage counter, double check your baggage claim check has your final destination, and all connecting flight information on them and store the tags in a secure area of your wallet or purse. Visually check to make sure your luggage bags get loaded on the right conveyor belt or cart and not forgotten.
Be prompt at baggage reclaim - At your final destination airport, arrive early to the baggage reclaim carousel with a good position to watch all luggage as it is put out so your luggage is not mistaken and claimed by another traveler.
If Luggage is Delayed or Lost:
Don’t delay - Immediately file a claim in person at the airport and have your luggage tags handy, photos of your luggage as well as contact information for where you will be staying so the bag(s) can be delivered once located. If you have the luxury of having travel companions, have one or more continue to search for missing bag(s) visually and using your GPS tag locator while other waits in line to file a claim. There is a very good chance that your luggage did arrive at your airport and is waiting to be found.
Save and submit receipts of expenses incurred from lost or delayed bags to file with insurance and with the airline as appropriate.
We hope this is helpful. Using these steps will definitely lower the chance of losing or getting your luggage delayed.
Check out some of our other travel advice articles:
Managing your money when Traveling
10 Insider European Travel Tips
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