Death and taxes may be the only sure things in life, Benjamin Franklin believed, but avid travelers wouldn’t hesitate to add one more thing to the list: lost luggage. It seems inevitable that at least on one journey from point A to point B, your bags will end up in point C. Indeed, in the first nine months of 2014 there were 1.6 million cases of “lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered baggage,” according to a report by the U.S Department of Transportation. In many cases, however, it’s entirely out of your hands, but here are 8 precautions to help ensure you’ll always arrive with your bags.
- Be Bold: Watching baggage tumble on to the beltway and baggage claim, you might think they’re all headed to a funeral based on the color scheme. As such, it’s easy enough for your own black bag to get lost in the mix, or get mistakenly picked up by someone else. Make your bag hot pink and you’ll see it coming a mile away. So will everyone else.
- Keep it personal: It’s hard to lose your bags if you never let go of them. Rather than trust the direction of the conveyer belt and employee wakefulness at check-in, learn the art of packing light, taking only a carry-on, (remember, roll your clothes), and a smaller bag to slip under the seat in front.
- Label inside and out: When your bags are lost, at least they’ll make it back to you sooner with secure, clear labeling inside and out. Duct tape a card with all relevant information on the inside lining, while adding a permanent tag on the outside of your bag in favor of the paper one from the airline. Removing old airline tags also reduces the likelihood of bags being sent to the wrong location.
- Bling, out: Luggage doesn’t always get lost haphazardly. Depending on the value of the contents inside, it can “get lost.” Reports of theft from airport workers are commonplace. Los Angeles International Airport, for example, uncovered the largest baggage-theft operation in its history in 2014. If it’s valuable, keep it in your carry-on.
- Take a selfie: Add a selfie of your bag to your phone before kissing it good bye at check-in. Having a digital copy close at hand gives searchers a good visual to help find it (again, hot pink works like a charm).
- Stay aware: Keep your eyes sharp when the check-in clerk slaps a label around your bag at check-in. Make sure the three-letter airport code at the top of it matches the one on your ticket. If not, one of you is taking the long way to your destination.
- Arrive early: Arriving early for check-in may add time to your pre-flight ritual, but it goes along to ensuring your bag’s security. Not only do unhurried agents have the time to confirm your bag’s destination, it’s less likely bags get mixed up in the crowded lines before take-off.
- Tag it and bag it: The next generation of travel baggage is getting kickstarted on the web, especially the promising Trunkster. Beyond just looking cool behind the sleek, black, zipperless facing, the bag also takes a secret agent cue with its in-house digital scale and a removable 15,000 mAh battery with USB port to charge your devices along the journey. Perhaps best of all, if it loses its way (intentionally or not), embedded GPS tracking (an additional $40) can locate it quickly.
By: Mike Dunphy