How To Improve the Chance of Your Luggage Arriving with You

So much luggage is almost identical. Standing anxiously near the luggage conveyor, you have to fight for position to get your own bag first. You may have had the experience of picking up luggage after a long flight only to find out once you reach your hotel room, you can't open it. It sure looked like yours, but it ain't! Did you know that some business travelers courier their luggage ahead of their trip to ensure it is there waiting for them? And with airlines beginning to charge for any check-in luggage, this may make more and more sense. But for many of us, this might not be an option. So, here are some tips that should improve the odds of your luggage arriving with you.

Step 1

Choose luggage that is well made. Check zippers and handles. Make sure the cloth does not rip easily. Forget about beauty. Look at strength. Forget leather. Don't even think about fancy top-end suitcases that announce "steal me, steal me" to the entire baggage chain!

Step 2

Lock your luggage. Choose locks that are compact and don't add a further chance for your bag to get "hung up" somewhere down in the bowels of Conveyor City. Oversized heavy locks add to your luggage weight and frankly, if someone wants in, the lock makes no difference.

Step 3

At check-in, make sure they tag your luggage to your place of destination. Look at the tags that are actually put on the suitcase. Make sure it's going where you're going .....or's still at the Port of Entry to your country and you are at West Dingbat Airport looking for your hold-all. If you have a stop in transit, have the counter clerk check your tags to make sure the bags made it through.

Step 4

Mark your luggage appropriately. Make sure you put your destination address on your luggage. Clean all other luggage tags from your bags. Resist the temptation to show off the other places you have been to. No one cares and it only confuses the handlers.

Step 5

Customize your bags. Most people now tie bright ribbons or wrap wool yarn around the handles of their suitcases...especially if they are classic black. Customize your ribbons to eliminate chances of someone else having the same luggage tied with exactly the same color or type of ribbon. Or you can use other ways of making your luggage distinct. A bright "belly band" adds identification and security. After a long trip, making distinctions among bags may not be your cherished strength. And if the bag is lost, it really helps the airline track it down.

Step 6

Pack your luggage lightly. When luggage is over the weight limit, not only do airlines charge you, but the handlers often drop it, so the chances of it breaking open are much higher. When it is so heavy, it can also block the luggage flow in some airports and even be left until last to be loaded...uh oh!!!!

Step 7

Pack your fragile luggage properly. Don't expect the handlers to pick up your luggage marked "fragile" gingerly. Expect it to be handled roughly and dropped, so pack accordingly. If you don't believe this, watch out the plane or airport window as aircrafts are loaded. The slam dunks are really scary!

Step 8

Oversized luggage. Surf boards, skis, bikes, monster bags...if you checked awkward items in, ask if there is a special area for pick up.

Step 9

Be alert. When you see a group of your fellow passengers waiting for luggage long after the majority has picked up theirs, chances are the airline has had a problem with a luggage container. If you are a couple, one sprints to the airline lost luggage office and asks for information. Once other people realize or the airline announces that a container has been delivered to Ogadugu by mistake, you can imagine the instant zoo at Lost Luggage. Get there first.

Make sure you pick up the right luggage. If you can, don't take luggage except carry on. Most of the stuff we take we never use. It's mainly...just-in-case things.


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Hi Mary,
Very useful tips. I enjoyed the mild humor that runs through the entire write. Especially, this: "Resist the temptation to show off the other places you have been to".


By Anonymous

The picture thing is a huge advantage I am sure. I know that I picked up a friend at the airport last fall and her luggage was missing. They hand her a poster and ask, which bag does it most look like. She spends ten minutes going through the long poster and announces, "None of these". I am also a huge "just in case" packer. We just got back from vacation and half the stuff I packed we didn't use!

By Danelle Karth

I have a friend who just lost her luggage enroute to a wedding celebration so she ended up borrowing an outfit from her friend. Subsequent to that, she takes pictures of her luggage before she checks it in so she can just show the picture in her telephone or camera when asked to describe it.

By Mary Norton

Awesome suggestions, and several that I've not heard before. Good job in the originality department!

By Sandy Fleming