Tips to Avoid and Deal With Lost Luggage at the Airport
One of the most frustrating experiences of traveling is finding out after a long flight that your bags did not make it to your destination with you! Here are some suggestions to help prevent lost luggage, some tips on how to pack just in case your bags DO get lost, and then what to do if it happens.
Preventing Lost Luggage During Travel
1. If possible, don’t check your bags!
When traveling with young kids, it may be too difficult to maneuver toddlers and carry-on luggage. But if your kids are older and can pull their own suitcases, then consider packing lightly and avoiding the hassle of baggage claim and the possibility of lost luggage.
2. Fly direct when possible.
Every time you and your checked luggage change planes is a chance for something to go wrong.
3. Tag your bags.
Use easy-to-read luggage tags that cannot be torn off. Although airlines provide paper tags, it is better to attach something more permanent with a mobile phone number where you can be reached while traveling.
4. Remove any old flight stickers.
Take off those from previous flights to other destinations so airline workers don’t get confused.
5. Consider color choice.
Buy suitcases in a color other than black or use brightly colored bows or ribbons to differentiate your luggage on the baggage claim carousel. This helps prevent someone from mistakenly taking the wrong bag.
How to Prepare if Your Bags Get Lost or Delayed
1. Spread it out.
Place family members’ items throughout your suitcases. This way if one suitcase is lost that family member still has at least a few items from the other suitcases.
2. Make a list of what’s in your suitcase.
A great idea is to take a picture of your open suitcase showing items, and then also the outside to show what your suitcase looks like.
3. Pack a key items in your carry-on bag.
Take anything you may need during your first 24 hours in your carry-on. For us, this means, bathing suits if we’re heading to a sunny destination, t-shirts that can double as pajamas, and critical toiletries such as my contacts and solution and my son’s Epi-Pen.
4. Keep valuable items in your carry-on, too.
Pack things like jewelry, electronics and important paperwork such as passports or hotel vouchers in your carry-on. Airlines do not accept liability for any valuable items. So if it is expensive or irreplaceable I recommend wearing it, packing it in your carry-on, or finding a way to do without it on your trip.
What To Do If Your Luggage Is Lost
1. Immediately report that your bag is missing.
You can do this by finding an airline representative at one of the counters near baggage claim and filing a lost bag report. Do not leave the airport without filling out this form. You will need the baggage receipt given to you at check-in so make sure you have put that in a safe place in your carry-on.
2. Try to get compensated.
Ask the representative if there are ways you can be compensated until your luggage is located. For example, some airlines will reimburse you for “reasonable” expenses but you should discuss this specifically with the airline representative. Also, if you paid a fee to check your bag I recommend asking to be reimbursed for that amount.
3. Don’t give up!
Most lost luggage is found within 48 hours. I know that doesn’t help when you really need your child’s favorite stuffed animal or your special outfit right when you land, but it is good to know that odds are you will be reunited with your luggage and its contents again.
Do you have any other tips for checking bags or dealing with lost luggage? Please let us know in the comments below!
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Susan is an enthusiastic traveler and mom to a 11 year-old boy and eight year-old girl. Originally from North Carolina, Susan is a Southerner at heart, although…