Fancy a vacation with your luggage?

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Lost baggage has long been a bane of travelers, and understaffed airlines lose a lot of baggage these days. These tips can assure you that yours is not one of them.

Wendy Carroll has seen airlines lose her luggage more than once. More recently, workers forgot to remove her suitcase from the hold at the back of the plane, where they found it at the plane’s next stop. “They had to fly it back and then put it on a bus to bring it to me, about a two-hour drive from the airport,” said the 70-year-old, who lives in Spokane, State. from Washington.

While the majority of baggage carried by airlines arrives on time, the recent relative increase in lost, delayed, damaged or broken-in baggage has led some travelers to call the Airmageddon flight experience | Credit: Getty

Mitchell Bober, 75, recalls his mother-in-law arriving at Baltimore-Washington International as her luggage continued on to Boston. At the customer service counter, the agent asked her if she needed any toiletries for the night. She said she kept these items in her carry-on. “The agent gave him his brightest smile and said, ‘You’ve flown with us before,'” Bober said.

“I swore to always take medicine as hand luggage after this experience.”

Miami Beach resident Charlotte Tomic, 71, learned to keep essentials in a carry-on when her luggage went missing for a day on a flight to Connecticut to visit her stepson. “I swore to always take medicine as carry-on after this experience,” she said.

Good is not good enough

Bob Nesoff, of New Milford, New Jersey, remembers his daughters’ disappointment when he returned from Florida and was told his suitcase, with gifts for all three girls, was bound for California. They received the toys two days later, when the airline delivered Nesoff’s bag to his home.

These stories all happened long before COVID wreaked havoc on airlines. “It was back when I still had red hair instead of all white,” said Nesoff, now 83. “Probably mid-70s.”

Even now, a large majority of luggage carried by airlines arrives on time and in good condition, but the recent relative increase in lost, delayed, misplaced, damaged or broken-in luggage has led some travelers to call the flight experience Airmageddon.

It’s the product of too many travelers, too few airline workers, frequently canceled flights, erratic pandemic rules, bad weather and other factors.

Many more missing bags

Jannik Lawretz, CEO and co-founder of luggagehero, a luggage storage chain in stores, cafes and hotels in more than 70 cities, says US Department of Transportation data shows airlines have mismanaged or lost 684,000 bags in the first quarter of 2022. Mishandled bags include those that are damaged or stolen, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

This compares to 241,908 mishandled or lost bags in the first quarter of 2021. People saw significantly fewer bags last year, around 60 million in the first quarter compared to 105 million in the same period this year, but even after adjusting For this, the Department of Transportation According to the rate at which airlines lost or mishandled baggage has increased by more than 60% in the first three months of this year.

Advice from experienced travelers

How do you prevent your luggage from being part of these statistics? And what can you do if a bag gets lost anyway? Veteran travelers offer the following advice:

  • Do not check your baggage, use hand luggage. On domestic flights, their length, width and height must be less than 45 inches, including wheels and handle. International flights may have different limits.
  • If you cringe at the thought of lifting heavy carry-on luggage into an overhead bin, ask to “check” your bag at the aircraft door, as well as strollers, car seats, and items too big to fit. trash.

Take the essentials with you

  • If you have to pack a suitcase, put a few items (pajamas, toiletries, medicine, underwear, and maybe even a change of clothes) in a carry-on, so if your baggage is delayed, you have options. If you’re traveling with someone, put some of each other’s clothes in the other’s bag, so if a suitcase wanders around, you’ll both have something to put on.
  • Use luggage of any color except black. If you must use black, decorate it with colored tape or tie a shiny ribbon on the handle. Then photograph all sides of the bag. If an airline representative asks for a description, show the photos. Also take a picture of what’s inside.
  • Make sure you have one or two completed ID tags (do not use a home address) outside and one inside along with your itinerary. Put a picture of yourself on an ID tag and write, “This luggage and this face go together.
  • Buy a Bluetooth-enabled tracker, such as an Apple AirTag, Samsung Smarttag, or Tile Mate, for every bag and perhaps for every cognitively impaired child, grandchild, or companion as well as scooters or wheelchairs. Make sure the tracker is compatible with your phone. (Tracers use lithium batteries but can be placed in checked baggage as regulations only prohibit rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.) Make sure the holder clip is securely fastened and not easy to To take it out.
  • Remove all airline-issued baggage tags and stickers from previous flights.
  • When checking bags, make sure the new baggage tags issued by the airline have the correct flight number and destination. Take a photo of the bag tag stub in case you need to prove you checked a bag.
  • If you can’t fit everything in a carry-on, consider carrying a vest with lots of pockets, such as a fishing vest, military tactical vest, photographer’s vest, or purpose-made vests that may even have a pocket big enough for a laptop or tablet.

If you can’t fit everything in a carry-on, consider wearing a vest with lots of pockets.

  • Another storage trick is to stuff a lightweight t-shirt or sweater into a neck pillow. Think about how much weight you can comfortably carry.
  • If you are traveling less than 800 km, consider taking the train or driving.

Managing cursed connections

  • Book the flight as early as possible to avoid accumulating delays as the day progresses, and fly nonstop, if possible, to eliminate transfer hassles. Also, arrive at the airport early to improve the chances of your luggage arriving on your flight.
  • For long connecting flights, book the longest route first. Consider predictable seasonal weather patterns that can delay or cancel flights: summer days in the south and east can mean thunderstorms, for example, while winters in Chicago or the mountains can mean snow or worse.
  • Familiarize yourself with new US Department of Transportation rules regarding what the airline owes you if it delays or cancels your flight due to circumstances within its control. The rules can be found on the Aviation Consumer Protection website.

Ship large items separately

  • Consider shipping bulky items, such as golf clubs or skis, separately. Several companies offer this service, some will even deliver to your cruise cabin. Check the fine print. Does the company only return lost luggage at the airport or will it deliver it to your home or hotel room? What does it cover? Does it ship domestically and internationally? Does it deliver on Sunday? Do they have phone service if you have a problem or just email? When calculating the cost, ask your hotel if they charge for receiving luggage or packages.
  • Check your travel insurance to see if lost or delayed baggage is covered, so you can buy essentials and get reimbursed. Also check the credit card you used to purchase the ticket to see if it covers your baggage inconvenience.
  • If, in the end, the airline loses your luggage, insist that they give you a written report with a reference number before you leave the airport.
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