How to avoid lost luggage


Arriving at your destination without your bags can really ruin a trip. Travel + Leisure's Mark Orwoll has some advice on how to minimize the risk of that happening, since we know it's not possible to guarantee you can avoid lost luggage.

How to avoid lost luggage
  • Never pack valuables or irreplaceable items in luggage you intend to check.
  • Book a non-stop or direct flight. Changing planes increases the chance that your luggage won’t make the connection.
  • Check in on time.
  • Make sure your name and phone number are clearly visible on a name tag you attach to each piece of checked baggage.
  • Make sure the gate agent places the proper destination tag on your bag and gives you the claim form.
  • If your luggage doesn’t arrive with you, file a claim form with the baggage claim office immediately.
  • Before leaving the airport, ask what the airline’s policy is regarding delivery of delayed baggage. Not all airlines will automatically send your bags to you.
  • If your bags are lost, ask for and file all claim forms necessary to get compensation. Airlines are required to compensate each passenger up to only $3,000, no matter how many of the passenger’s bags they’ve lost.

Hi I'm Mark Orwoll of Travel + Leisure magazine for howdini. Few travel woes are as upsetting as finding out your luggage has been delayed, damaged, or worst of all, lost.  While the airline might owe you some compensation if this happens, your best bet is to avoid it in the first place. Here is some common sense advice that you can follow to avoid anything going wrong with your bags.

First, check in on time. If you're late, you might make it on the plane on time, but your bags could get left behind. If you have a choice, book a non-stop or a direct flight. When you change planes, you increase the chances that your bags might not make the connection even though you have. 

Put a name tag on your luggage in case it is misplaced and it will make it easier to find. When you check your bag at the airport, make sure the agent puts a destination tag on your bag and gives you the claim for them. 

If you arrive at your destination and your bags aren't there, don't panic. 98% of delayed luggage is reunited with its owner within just a few hours. Go to the baggage office and file a claim there. Don't assume though that they'll deliver your bags to your home or hotel; not every airline will. So, ask about their policy before you leave the airport. 

If your luggage and its contents are damaged, the airline will usually pay for repairs. If repairs aren't practical, the airline will usually pay you the used value of those items. 

Now, let's say the worst case scenario happens and your luggage really is lost. File any claim forms that are required. The airline only has to pay you up to $300; that's per passenger no matter how many of your bags they may have lost. That's a real good reason to put important, valuable, or sentimental items in your carry on bags. Or better yet, leave them at home. 

So remember: arrive early, book a non-stop or direct flight, make sure that you have a name tag on your luggage and a destination tag put on by the agent. If you follow all that advice, the chances are pretty good that both you and your bags will arrive at the airport at the same time. 

meet theexpert
  • Mark Orwoll

    Mark Orwoll Senior Consulting Editor, Travel + Leisure Mark Orwoll has appeared numerous times as a travel authority on network and cable television and is the author of Teach Yourself e-Travel Today (Macmillan). more about this expert »

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