- Travel tips
- 23 May 2021
7 useful suggestions to reduce the risk of losing your luggage at the airport
The fear of losing your luggage during air travel is a phobia that haunts many travellers because this unexpected can ruin your vacation or your business appointment. Can you reduce the risk of losing your luggage? Yes, you can manage some details to minimize the risk of it happening, although I have to note that this is a rare event.
Here below I will list a few useful suggestions to reduce as possible the loss of your luggage. There are many factors that you cannot control, but these useful suggestions depend only on you.
1. Use an easily identifiable luggage
Can you lose the luggage because someone at the arrivals belt has mistakenly taken it for his? Absolutely, yes! I have experienced it with my eyes! Similar luggage can be mistakenly and accidentally switched with yours. Before you leave, put a gadget or an adhesive that will easily stand out. Obviously, you have to tag the luggage with your address and contact details so in case it happens, it can be traced it back to you.
2. Avoid tight connection flights
If you are on a multi-leg flight, make sure that the time between flights is sufficiently acceptable, not only for yourself to board the next flight, but also for your luggage. While you may run like a mad man to your next flight’s gate, your luggage may not make it. You have made it, but your luggage will have to wait for the next flight available. It is one of the main reasons why your luggage won’t make it to the final destination along with you, in respect to a direct flight.
When is a connection flight too tight? For many big airports, less than an hour may be problematic to begin with, but if your first flight begins to run late this problem gets bigger.
I would like to add that some airports are not as organized as they should be and therefore when they have to transfer a luggage from one airplane to another, chances that they won’t be successful get bigger.
3. Show up early at the check-in counter
If you have luggage to check-in, it is better not to present yourself last minute. It is true that you have a specific timeframe to check-in the luggage before your flight’s departure. If you choose to do it at the last minute when the luggage check-in is allowed, this increases the risk of not making it on board, because at certain dates when the airport is crowded, it might happen that the personnel is overwhelmed and might not be able to process it on time.
The suggestion is therefore to present your luggage at the check-in in advance, so that time is sufficient to have it loaded on the right airplane.
4. At check-in make sure that the final destination on the tag placed on the luggage is the correct one
The tendency nowadays is to do electronic do-it-yourself check-ins. It is therefore up to you to insert the correct data for your luggage and print the tag that will accompany it. This new way of check-in makes it even more imperative to double check that the tag printed is indeed the correct one. How? Every airport has an IATA ID code: check that the code of the arrival airport or of a connecting airport are the same with the corresponding codes on your boarding card. The luggage should embark on the same destination.
Even if the check-in is done by the airport’s personnel, always check the tag they put on your luggage and on the adhesive that they stick on your boarding card. I am telling you from my personal experience, since once the staff that checked-in my luggage had mistakenly inserted a different single letter at the IATA ID code and therefore modified the final destination of my luggage.
5. Insist that the “PRIORITY” tag is placed
You can ask the check-in personnel to apply the “PRIORITY” tag, but that decision is completely at their discretion. They will not always grant it, but it is worth asking especially if you are on a tight connecting flight (if you were not able to avoid them as suggested before).
One more tag can grab the attention of the operators that load the luggage and maybe it will be loaded ahead, since it will be marked as a priority.
6. Ask at your boarding gate to locate your luggage
In any case and mostly if you are on a multi-leg flight, before you board your next flight you can verify at your boarding gate the whereabouts of your luggage. When the ground handling staff are not loaded with work, you can ask them to check if your luggage is on board and they will tell you if the bar codes of your luggage’s tag have been read by their loading system. If they can confirm that the luggage is on board, you can rest assured that it probably is. If on the other hand you are informed that it is still in transit, have them look it up and process it before you board the plane.
7. The final suggestion: consider it lost and plan as so!
This suggestion will not help you lower the risk of losing your luggage, but you will know what to do if that happens. There are other factors that have nothing to do with you, that contribute in a late arrival of your luggage. For example, the total weight load of the airplanes cannot surpass a certain limit and sometimes some luggage gets “sacrificed” and is left behind to board the next flight.
As hard as you may try not to lose the luggage, a small risk remains always. What can you do? If it happens at the returning home flight, then the damage is limited. But if it happens on your departing flight, you should always think about that risk.
Use your hand luggage and take along some essentials to get you through the waiting, like a pair of underwear, a hair comb, a toothbrush, medication, a change of clothes (if you can fit them), and objects of value that you wouldn’t anyways place in the luggage.
With this “security kit” you will not find yourself unprepared.
Now run and pack that luggage!
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