10 Things To Know To Keep Your Luggage From Getting Lost

It’s late night at the airport and you’re the only one left standing at the baggage couresel, waiting for your luggage to arrive. The same blue duffel passes you like a broken record. Reality sinks in. Your baggage is lost. Tears form. Then, a rustling of rubber flaps. A form begins to emerge from the wall. Could it be, your lost bag? No, it is a man, a baggage handler man, covered in dust. He pats himself off and plants himself before you and begins a soliloquy. He is here to tell you you the 10 ten things you need to know to keep your bags from getting lost:

10. Don’t over pack your bags.

Over packing your bags to the point where they are bulging will burst when thrown or get caught in the conveyer belt because of its size. When they do burst no one wants to zipper it back up, it is usually put aside until it gets less busy. The more streamline your bag is the safer you are.

9. The TSA is your enemy.

The TSA’s job is to be nosy. TSA will scan your bag, and if there is something amiss they will open it, usually laugh at its contents, and try to pack it back up. If you have an overstuffed bag, they won’t bother trying to zip it back up. They will spend 5 minutes wrapping your bag with tape, like a mummy.

8. Zippers, Locks and Straps are your enemy.

Zippers, Locks and Straps to the conveyer system are like anchors if they get stuck on something. You run a good chance of damaging your bag, bursting your bag, or having your bag lost. Take off any straps that are loose, zippers and locks should be on the top under your handle, not the side.

7. The Airline Employees are your friends.

With all of the recent news of theft keep in mind it’s not actually the airline employees stealing. I’m not saying they don’t or ever have or actually do, but some of these employees try their hardest to get your bag to its destination with you.

6. “Airport workers” are your enemy.

Your bag usually changes hands quickly a few times in major airports, by different companies; it’s a cost cutting move. Airport workers you can safely say are not the highest quality people, or the smartest people for that matter. They keep weird hours and get paid like crap.

5. Airports are old and dirty and filled with asbestos.

Whether it’s a cheap duffel bag or a coach suitcase, it all gets treated the same. It all goes down the same dirty belts and dirty planes. That said Baby car seats are no exception to the dirtiness. Wrap them in plastic or buy a cover for them.

4. Be on time!

Your bag is not likely to make it through this process if you are within an hour of take-off.

3. Fragile ha!

Sure, go ahead and put a fragile sticker on your suitcase. But I’m not going to lie — there are bad apples out there, and they might see that fragile sticker and either make a joke or even treat the bag a little rougher

2. God forbid your bags causes a jam.

Like in # 10, the more streamline your bag is the safer you are. However, if your bag causes a jam the whole system stops. There is a 5 minute window for that jam to be cleared. I’m not sure what happens if it takes longer than 5 minutes but it’s a big deal. It takes 1 minute for someone to acknolgde the jam, 1-3 minutes to run to the jam, another 1-2 minutes to find the bag. More or less Linc will do whatever it takes, including cutting your bag to clear a jam.

1. Everyone hates your bag.

Maybe southwest really loves your bags, JetBlue seems to love their employees, and AA has automated baggage, but seriously everyone hates your bag and depending on whim they will go out of their way to help you.

BONUS:

Regarding JFK, everything in Delta @ JFk is contracted out. EVERYTHING.

As of December 15th a new Company called Delta Global Services (DGS) took over the baggage screening rooms, and conveyer systems. Previously, it was maintained by two companies. Aviation Safeguards and Linc Facility Services.

The main difference, is of course cash, DGS is paying its workers $7.75 with no benefits. Aviation was paid at $8.25 and Linc was paid $10+ an hour for this job.

Those companies manned the Baggage screening rooms are where TSA screens your bags before they board your plane.

Quickly let me take you through the process.

When you give your bag to the skycaps or the ticket agent it goes on the magic belt behind them. That leads directly into the baggage screening room. It was Aviation safeguard responsibility to load and unload the bags for TSA and Linc facility services responsibility to load the conveyer and place a barcode on your bag for the conveyer to read. A separate unit of Linc is the maintenance contractor for Terminals 2/3 & 4. Once loaded onto the conveyer it travels to its respective pier for Delta to double check and load their vehicles and then onto the plane.

98-99% of your bags make it to the piers. What affects this are the:

* Linc barcode employees -they may place the wrong barcode on your bag, delaying your bag.
* The age of the conveyer – the conveyer is old and may jam your bag in the system.

From there another 1-2% don’t make it on the plane.

Although the odds are with you, to arrive with your bags, these notes will help you arrive with all of your bags.

-Anonymous baggage handler”

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. KyleOrton says:

    #1 – The location of your luggage.

  2. TheRealMarySue says:

    And this is why I travel with carry-ons exclusively. I’ve lived for a month out of a backpack and a laptop case.

    • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

      You must have done laundry every other day, or started to smell funky…

      • TheRealMarySue says:

        I do laundry once a week. I can pack ten different outfits into my carry-on case (which is 21″x12″x9″), and if it’s a business trip, I iron everything when I get to my hotel room.

    • ander_bobo says:

      The past several times I have flied, that seems to be what EVERYBODY is doing. On all my flights the cabin ran out of space in overhead storage and several people were forced to check their bags at the last minute. So my advice is if you are flying and only doing carry-on, store it the first available place you see once you get on the plane.

      • johnmc says:

        Don’t be an ass. Stow one bag in the bin near your seat and put your jacket or “personal item” by your feet. If everyone does this, then there should be plenty of room for all of us in the overhead bins. If people do as you suggest, then it’s a nightmare for those seated toward the front of the plane who board last and have to hunt for unused space.

    • rickatnight11 says:

      Just ship what you would have put in your luggage. Higher chances of making it there safely, and even with expedited shipping you’ll pay less than most airlines’ luggage fees.

    • kalaratri says:

      I’m guessing you either don’t have or don’t travel with children.

      • mythago says:

        And is male. No, I’m not making “chicks pack too much hurrrr” jokes. A guy can wear the same suit and shoes five days in a row, and as long as I changes his shirt and tie nobody cares. If I wear the same suit and shoes five days in a row, the people I’m doing business with will probably offer to take me shopping.

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      I’m a 24 year old chick, and I haven’t checked luggage since I was a kid. After watching my father’s luggage get lost every single time, I thought “bump that.” I’m going to Jamaica next month with a big pocketbook in my lap and a duffel at my feet. All I really need is a bathing suit and spf 60.

  3. castlecraver says:

    There are two types of luggage in this world: carry-on and lost.

    More seriously though, I think these baggage fees would be slightly more palatable to the consumer if we got something for them, like say, lost/damaged luggage insurance. Ever read the CoC? They’ve deftly absolved themselves of liability for nearly anything of significant value that someone might take on a trip. I’d feel a lot better about checking my bag if I knew there was actual recourse available if something went wrong, but as it is now you’re pretty much screwed.

    • me_vs_elvis says:

      interestingly enough, many of those things are legally unenforceable. many, many court systems take the (correct) position that you shouldn’t be able to waive any and all liability in a form you’re forced to sign (and, realistically, not very damn likely to read) if you ever want to fly

      you know those signs in parking garages that say “we are not responsible for items stolen from cars”. those are also often completely unenforceable. they just use the boilerplate contracts and signs to discourage people from trying to enforce their rights

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:

      Wow, I’ve never had that much of a problem and I fly twice a week, 48 weeks of the year.

      There are two types of people on planes:

      Those that overfill the overhead bins and those that don’t. The a$$holes that overfill the overhead bins are annoying.

  4. StatusfriedCrustomer says:

    How does knowing #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, or 9 help me keep my luggage from getting lost?

  5. ckaught78 says:

    After 20 years of active traveling last week was the first time my bags didn’t make it. The reason being a short connection into Minneapolis via O’Hare. My bags were houwever on the next flight. United was great about the whole things. They delivered my bags to me a couple hours later and gave me a $150 voucher for my trouble.

  6. MDSasquatch says:

    Rule #11 – Don’t fly Continental

    • Powerlurker says:

      Why? They have one of the better records for handling baggage in the industry. The ones to avoid are Delta and American’s regional affiliates.

  7. mac-phisto says:

    i only need to know one thing to keep my luggage from getting lost:

    1) if i can’t carry it on, i don’t need it.

  8. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    First of all, never check your luggage. Never never never. I fly overseas on business for weeks at a time and never check luggage. But one tip is to take a picture of your packed luggage and then include a color printout of the packed luggage in your baggage along with an itemized list of everything in the bag. It gives the many thieves that work for the airlines “pause”. They often know that most people don’t remember what they packed in their bags.

    • EatSleepJeep says:

      Also, print off a page with your contact information and put it on top of your items in the bag, include your destination address and your home address as well as a cell phone number. If the luggage tag or the airline tag gets removed or lost, this will help get your bag where it needs to go. It has for me.

    • TheWillow says:

      Ugh. I checked a bag for the first time in years (was carrying xmas presents and didn’t think security would like the wrapped packages) and they managed to 1) rip my cute “this is not your luggage” tag off of the handle, 2) “lose” one of the gifts (out of 4, why not just take them all?) and 3) “lose” my makeup brushes. (It’s a 15$ set of makeup brushes, why the hell would someone want them?)

  9. Blinkman987 says:

    Rule #1 should be – Don’t be a jerk. If your bag doesn’t fit in the overhead properly because it is too large, either buy a different bag or check your bag. As someone who follows the rules, I got sick of inconsiderate people trying to stuff their oversized bag into the overhead and not allowing anybody else room up there. Unless you’re on a commuter jet, if it only fits in parallel with the overhead you’re doing it wrong and need to buy a smaller bag.

    • StatusfriedCrustomer says:

      I wish airlines would enforce those carry-on size limit rules. I’ve never once seen someone turned away or forced to gate check due to oversize carryons. They enforce every other rule to the letter, but once you get to the plane, all of a sudden you’re allowed to carry a twin size mattress onto the plane and no one says anything.

    • Saltillopunk says:

      I agree to an extent about what you say regarding people taking things that don’t fit in the overhead properly. But keep in mind the configuration of the bin plays a roll in placing items in an optimal position. Case in point: my carry on bag fits in the bins in a perpendicular direction about 99% of the time. It fits well within the dimensions the airlines say are the maximum allowable to be considered carry on. And yet there have been a couple of flights where there was no way to place the bag in the bin perpendicular. So I am a jerk because in those instances I had no option but to place it parallel to the hatch? As it stands, I am following the rules and bringing a bag compliant to the limits of the airlines. You are right to get agitated at those who bring too much/oversize items on, causing problems, while we follow the rules. But I believe it is unfair to claim someone is in the wrong based on the way an item needs to be placed in the bin.

    • justsomeotherguy says:

      One wouldnt need to be a jerk or a bin hog if the airlines could be trust. I say BE A JERK AND LOOK AFTER YOURSELF when flying, because no one else will. It’s a good idea to maintain a pleasant composure when doing so in order to avoid being tazered to death.

  10. BridgetPentheus says:

    I really preferred the pre-911 days. Once when my family was flying to Florida we forgot my Dad’s suitcase at the house and didn’t realize it till we got to the airport. They let my grandfather drive back, pick it up, they put it on the next flight to Tampa and delivered it to my cousins house. Course I think this was Eastern airlines which they were still around. Nowadays they wouldn’t have let the bag on without my dad.

  11. fatediesel says:

    After reading this I’m shocked nothing happened to my luggage when I flew to the Virgin Islands last month. My bag weighed 49.5 pounds (the limit was 50 pounds) and was bursting at the seams. I got my bag fine coming and going though with no damage, so maybe I just got lucky.

  12. skrolnik says:

    I like one tip I read over on Bruce Schneier’s security blog. It only works if you have hardside-case style luggage. Pack a track-meet starter pistol along with whatever else you’re taking. Under TSA regs, it counts as a weapon, and will qualify your luggage for the special “weapons case” handling. The airlines know if they misplace a weapons case, the press could have a field day with the story, so they give it extra tracking and make sure that it gets in your hands at the destination. Plus, you’re actually REQUIRED to lock it with a lock that DOESN’T bear the TSA-Approved logo, because the TSA knows better to trust their master key holders to have access to passengers’ firearms in secure baggage handling areas.

    • Tim says:

      Make sure you TELL the check-in folks that you have said weapon. That’s the key.

      • johnmc says:

        Federal regulations state that you *have* to notify your airline in this case:

        Quote:
        Firearms may only be transported in checked baggage and must be
        declared to your airline. They must be unloaded and locked in a hard-
        sided container. Failure to comply may result in civil and criminal
        penalties.

    • twophrasebark says:

      Sounds urban legend-isn to me…

      • Powerlurker says:

        Nope, check out the TSA regs for traveling with a firearm. It must be in a locked, hard-sided case, and you can be the only one with access to it. You just need to declare it. What some people do (there’s a good video online about this, but I can’t find it at the moment) is pack all there stuff in their “gun case” along with a firearm (which can be even a starter pistol or flare gun) and they can lock it with whatever they please.

      • Powerlurker says:

        Here’s a link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGjddG5Owsc

      • Sian says:

        I’ve done this (except with a .22 target pistol, still) and it works wonderfully.

    • C1erkerist says:

      What do we do when everyone finds out about this, and every suitcase has a gun in it? Should I be ordering a missle from Amazon to give my bag priority?

    • pot_roast says:

      Ugh. This is not true at all. A bag with a firearm in it **DOES NOT** get ANY “extra tracking” whatsoever. What happens is this.

      * Ammo must be separated from the firearm.
      * You go to counter, tell them you have a firearm to declare. Airline employees are NOT to touch the firearm at all, and YOU are not allowed to take it out of the case at the ticket counter.
      * You fill out forms. Tag goes in bag.
      * Bag goes over to TSA area, where TSA inspects it and tags the outside of the firearm case which is then placed BACK in your suitcase.
      * Suitcase is then sent down the belt, through the TSA scanning room with all the other bags, and winds up on the exact same belt with all the other baggage. If it’s a rifle or other oversized case, it will wind up going down the exact same “oversize” belt with the skiis, golf clubs, etc.
      * Bag goes in cargo bin, and plane goes away.

      No ‘extra tracking’ is performed. No extra labels are put on the bag.
      (Source: up until a few months ago, I worked p/t for an airline, doing ticket counter and ramp. We had training classes on this. I still have my training manuals at home and they verify this information.)

      The TSA/etc does not want bags being singled out, especially ones that contain firearms. Firearm owners also do not want their luggage having any extra tags on it.

      • pot_roast says:

        And a reply to myself – just check Schnier’s blog entries. HE didn’t say to use a starter pistol, somebody ELSE did, and it is completely debunked in the comments too.

        Also: “Federal Law prohibits marking or tracking firearms in checked luggage in any way, simply because they will get stolen.”

        Bottom line: Adding a firearm will NOT keep your luggage from getting stolen. It’s simply not true in any way.

  13. veg-o-matic says:

    “Airport workers you can safely say are not the highest quality people, or the smartest people for that matter.”

    Really? Denigrating people (whole, entire people, character and all) based solely on their occupation and/or income?

    Sad.

  14. twophrasebark says:

    Put your name and address INSIDE THE BAG.

    Put your name and address INSIDE THE BAG.

    This is the number one thing that will help you get your bag back. Outside tags are important too but they get lost and torn off. Thousands upon thousands of bags are never returned to customers because no one knows who they belong to.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      yes. and put the name and address or at least phone number of where you are staying at your destination. baggage handlers SOMETIMES call every hotel near the airport to see if a traveler is staying there, but it’s rare.
      when i worked at a hotel i spent a lot of time calling around looking for luggage.
      but a piece of paper in the bag with the hotel info on it [even a spare printout of your reservation confirmation] will get it on a van and to the hotel in question within a few hours most of the time.
      there’s a guy whose job it is to deliver lost and delayed luggage to all the hotels near the airport in this area. it’s all he does all day long.
      there was one time that all exterior labels were missing, the person’s name wasn’t on it, but a printout of the hotel address was in the bag and we found the owner by the next morning.

  15. dreamfish says:

    From http://eventplanning.about.com/od/transportation/a/airline-baggage-checked-baggage-lost-luggage_3.htm:

    ————————
    Based on voluntary submissions of data by 19 airlines for 12 months ending December 2008, the Air Travel Consumer Report ranked the following U.S. airlines as having the highest number of mishandled bags per 1,000 – enplaned passenger volume noted in parenthesis:

    American Eagle Airlines: 9.89 (16,244,392)
    Atlantic Southeast Airlines: 9.82 (12,344,839)
    Comair: 8.32 (8,190,831)
    Mesa Airlines: 7.89 (11,608,433)
    Skywest Airlines: 7.61 (21,041,922)
    Pinnacle Airlines: 7.55 (10,237,024)
    Epressjet Airlines: 6.39 (14,018,563)
    Delta Airlines: 5.98 (61,910,660)
    American Airlines: 5.71 (74,446,833)
    United Airlines: 5.24 (54,114,611)
    US Airways: 4.77 (50,388,949)
    Southwest Airlines: 4.55 (104,758,285)
    ————————

    • AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

      Wow, looks like SW really does love bags . . . Good for them for actually having advertising claims that have been proven!

  16. ScandalMgr says:

    The FAA mandates Contract of Carriage include insurance in case baggage is lost or stolen, I think up to $1500 per passenger.

    Remember, many bags look alike on the outside, so tag yours with a colorful piece of cloth or ribbon or flagging tape.

  17. Donathius says:

    I stopped checking baggage before it was cool (ie when the baggage fees started). Waiting an hour in the baggage claim at the Ontario, CA airport for my suitcase cured me of ever checking luggage again. They didn’t lose my bag or anything, it just took that long for the luggage to start coming out on the carousel.

  18. hungryhomer says:

    An article full of broad generalizations and spelling mistakes? Ben, say it ain’t so!

    While some of your tips are useful (10, 8, 4, 3), I can’t help but feel you should have maybe provided a few handy links to some of the airport horror stories on here to give some credence to your “Airport workers are morons” arguments. That, and spellcheck. Always spellcheck.

  19. sprocket79 says:

    I do NOT want to think about lost luggage today – I’m flying tonight!!!

  20. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    As I reiterate every time someone mentions methods of keeping tabs on your luggage, I shall say this again.

    Check a starter pistol (like for track events) or flare gun in your luggage. The TSA have to treat such things as firearms and regard your luggage as a firearm container. This allows you to do two things: 1) put whatever kind of lock you want on your luggage 2) wave a federal felony in front of anyone’s face who dares to try and open/steal your luggage.

    The process is simple for checking it. Notify the ticket agent that you will be checking a firearm. Visually show the agent that the firearm is not loaded and where it will be placed in your luggage. Lock you luggage and then hand it over. When you pick it up, you will be asked to inspect your luggage to ensure that everything is as it should be. When picking it up you will have to go to either the oversize luggage area or to the airline’s office to personally pick up your luggage.

    Sure it takes a few extra minutes of time, but it’s really the best “insurance” you can get. Me and my friends have been doing this with camera gear for years and haven’t had a hiccup yet. Starter pistols and flare guns can be had for as little as $20 and you don’t need any ammunition for them, either.

    • andoman says:

      The comment about the flare gun/starter pistol is crazy! Seems like it should work though. Interesting stuff.

      • nybiker says:

        Check out the video link in an above comment. You’ll see how the guy packs his locks & stuff when he flies. Declaring a firearm is the way to go, especially if you’ve got important stuff. Just be sure to follow the rules.

      • pot_roast says:

        It’s also completely false.

  21. 12-inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    I fly weekly, and when I’m gone Sun-Thurs/Fri I check my bag. Two things I’ve learned:

    1. Ziptie your bag. I’ve been doing it for years. Not only can you quickly identify your bag, you can tell if someone opened it up/went through it. That way you aren’t dealing with the TSA locks that they have they key to (you won’t ever know if someone goes through your bag). It’s allowed by the airlines (I even had one regional carrier search the checked bag in front of me and re-ziptie the bag shut).

    2. Sitting in the back of the plane isn’t terrible when you have checked luggage. By the time you get off the plane and to the luggage carousel, the bag is already there or will be there soon. It used to drive me nuts getting off the plane early, but sitting at baggage claim for 45 min. If I’m in the back of the plane, my luggage is either already spinning around the carousel or comes out quickly after I get there. (YMMV of course, I know Las Vegas airport can be ridiculously slow for getting luggage).

  22. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    A few weeks back, I was searching fares on the Delta Airlines website and got a pop-up asking if I’d take a survey. Sure, why not? Most of it was questions about the website, but then they hit me with one that said that Delta was considering offering a new service – you don’t have to wait at the baggage claim area .. for $40, they’ll deliver your baggage to any location within 40 miles of the airport, within 6 hours. Would I pay for this? Hmmmmmm. No

    The next question though . . . Delta is considering offering insurance: for $8, they’ll insure (up to $2000) that they’ll actually get your bags to your destination airport. Seriously? They’ll charge you to check one bag, charge you more to check two, and then on top of that, they’ll charge you to actually GET THEM THERE?

    Delta Loves to Fee. And it Shows.

    • AuntieMaim says:

      Ahahaha! I love this especially because what are they going to do if they don’t get your “guaranteed” bag to you? Pay for the items? Probably not if they eventually do get it to you. And good luck proving you had an expensive item in there. It’s a fee for treating your bag exactly as they would anyway.

  23. Wachusett says:

    So in summary, package your belongings in a seamless egg, and smear it with grease.

  24. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    6. “Airport workers” are your enemy.
    I worked as baggage handler in Toronto for Hudson General who contract with major airlines. Wages were crap and too many handlers were blatant crooks. They targeted departures – so checking in early increases your risk – as it provides opportunity & passengers won’t realize they’ve been hit until they’re hundreds of miles away.

    7. The Airline Employees are your friends.
    American Airlines does (did) it’s own in-house baggage handling. One Christmas my baggage arrived wet and stinking of beer,

    • bwcbwc says:

      Was that because you shipped a case of beer in your luggage?

      Sounds like your bag was _under_ the bag of someone who tried to ship bottled beer in their luggage and FAILed.

  25. CowPies says:

    I’m also a baggage handler. He has some good tips, but the #1 thing that should be added is always have your name and address inside the bag. If the bag tag and name tag are both missing, you’ll probably never see your bag again.
    Also, if you have a carseat that the seat and back seperate, make sure they stay together or you may only get the one that has the bag tag attached to it.

  26. trujunglist says:

    You can pretty much always tell when your bag will be lost. something, something is just off. you’ll notice it afterwards, but it’s usually how the agent handles the ticketing, or how you’ve made the hand off. If something doesn’t seem quite right, grab your bag and make sure they know where you’re going and that you expect the bag to be there. The only 2 times my bag has been lost, there was something wrong and I just didn’t think to worry about it. Afterwards I realized the exact steps that occurred to get my bag lost. I’m sure there are bad apples and what not too that affect things, but I think most of the time it’s the ticketing agent.

  27. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    You all forgot the easiest and most obvious way to make sure you don’t lose your luggage. I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and I’ve yet to lose a single piece of luggage.

    DON’T FLY. I know, I know, you have no other option, right? Well what did people do before we had major airlines? I’ve been all over the US, and I’ve never been on a plane.

    And as expensive and shitty as flying has become, I’m really surprised that there isn’t a bigger market for Trans-Atlantic ships. I’d much rather take a boat across the ocean. Safer, more scenic, more comfortable and wouldn’t take too long with today’s ships.

    • Alys Brangwin says:

      It still takes about a week. Most Americans at least don’t get that much vacation, and if you’re going to take a ship twice, that’s two weeks. Those cruises aren’t cheap either.

    • justsomeotherguy says:

      Yeah, if one has all the time in the world… I love the drive from ohio to cali… but it eats up the time you could be using to get on with life. The tech/doctor/lawyer/professional they need on site yesterday needs to fly.

      Your statement just doesnt jive with the real world.

  28. Invalid_User_Name says:

    Does anyone still check bags anymore? My tip to all: get a wheelie carryon and learn to travel lightly and do laundry.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      You can buy these little Tide packets and do your laundry in the sink. I used to do it with Woolite when I had to wear a uniform to work that I only had a couple of shirts for, and had no washer or dryer (in a small duplex). Just take it off at night, wash it out, hang it up and you’re good to go the next morning.

      Assuming you don’t have to press a dress shirt, that is.

      • Doncosmic says:

        One of the things I loved about France was that even in the relatively inexpensive hotels, alot of them had a shirt press in the room.

  29. MJ Dick says:

    My favorite number one travel tip that saves so much, if you have a friend that wants to vacation with you, DON’T FLY, and take turns driving. I’m a photographer and flying is hazardous to film, they have killed more film, messed up my valuables, and dropped my flash units. it’s cheaper just more time consuming, but if you like the scenery, and have a good driving partner, thats not an issue.

  30. SG-Cleve says:

    I have been wondering about something ever since the airlines started charging for every checked bag…

    If they lose your bag, do they give your “checked bag” fee back?

  31. Chinchillazilla says:

    StreamlineD. StreamlineD!

    Sorry, I just had to get that out.

  32. WagTheDog says:

    I hate carrying my bag always check it. The only time it got “lost” was in South America, and really it was just held until we came up with an acceptable “finder’s” fee.

    Further, I dread sitting next to a carry-on-my-bag passenger. I’ve had bags dropped on my head, people ask to put their bag in my little foot space, folks who have removed my small bag from the overhead so they have space for theirs, you name it. If you can’t lift that bag over your head, well, cowboy up and check it.

    OTOH, I have recently rediscovered Amtrak….now that’s travel,

  33. zigziggityzoo says:

    Best way to make sure your bag gets there intact: Pack a firearm. The gov’t tends to hawkeye those bags like none other! Plus, you don’t have to use TSA locks when you travel with a firearm.

    Totally worth it.

  34. monzo says:

    Unless you are a woman you shouldn’t have more than carry on.

  35. scotchguard says:

    Avoid putting food in your checked baggage – all 3 times I’ve done that I’ve had to wait for my luggage to come on the next flight from that airport because TSA had searched my bag.

  36. JanetCarol says:

    Consumerist,
    Where was this article before my honeymoon a few months back. Spending your honeymoon shopping at Marshalls and Target in Las Vegas was not what I we wanted to be doing.

    When they tag your bag – just look at make sure the originating location and the destination location are correct. Some how our bag originating at Dulles said that they originated at JFK. And god knows where they went…

  37. AuntieMaim says:

    My biggest tip when your bag does get lost — I love, by the way, that airline agents always correct me that my bag is not lost, as thanks to the scannable tag they know it’s in Milwaukee while I’m in Denver — is to be polite and patient with the airline employee in the baggage office.

    I was on a flight to Birmingham AL several years ago where a number of bags were lost, and felt terrible for the baggage lady, who was getting yelled at by every customer in turn. So, when it was my turn, I sympathized with her, calmly picked out a bag similar to mine on that little mug-shot sheet of bags they have, efficiently went through the questions they have to ask, and added that it had a ribbon on the handle. I told her I was sure my bag would turn up, added that I had all my medications in my carry-on and could borrow clothes if needed, and told her I hoped her night got better. She thanked me very sincerely, and I got the bag back in record time, along with a few phone calls updating me on its progress and checking whether it would be OK to deliver the bag late-ish at night.

    I just try to remember whatever problem I have is probably not the fault of the specific individual I’m dealing with. It gets me pretty far with CSRs.

  38. tuesdaykat says:

    I carry on always…until they take the bag from me on the jetway because the overhead is full. I blame baggage fees. Happens to me a lot (I get aisle seats on United, so always the last to board). I don’t have any tips for that situation (fly enough to get status and book window seats?) but I do have a story that leads me to another. On my last trip, I and my fellow passengers waited for our bags in SF for an hour. While we were waiting and getting impatient, someone came on the loudspeaker to announce that our bags were delayed because someone’s dog escaped his carrier. As a dog owner, I was mortified, and didn’t feel so mad anymore.

    Later, I was speaking to a colleague who incidentally was a former baggage handler. He said that in his years working the tarmac, he’d seen it happen at least 5 times. “Those things just pop open. We can try and chase the dog down, but if it runs out to the runways, we have to let it go. There’s nothing we can do.”

    So, #11, if you’re checking your pet, zip tie the carrier closed. I could stand losing my clothes and shoes. My dog, not so much.

  39. uber_mensch says:

    Someone needs to make a Lo-Jack for luggage that shows its location on google maps.

  40. xredgambit says:

    I thought one thing to do is buy a starter pistol, like $20 no permit needed, and put it in your lugage. Declare a firearm and your lugage is tracked and will not get lost.

  41. betterblox says:

    …doesn’t everyone prefer the pre-9/11 days?

  42. bdgbill says:

    A pretty crappy list. How about putting a luggage label on the outside of the bag with your phone number on it? How about using suitcases that are any color other than black?

    Most important of all… Never, ever check bagscontaining anything you ever want to see again if you are flying on US Air and connecting through Philly. Philly is a black hole of luggage.

  43. pot_roast says:

    Reposting this for those that read the comments saying to pack a starter pistol.

    Ugh. This is not true at all. A bag with a firearm in it **DOES NOT** get ANY “extra tracking” whatsoever. What happens is this.

    * Ammo must be separated from the firearm.
    * You go to counter, tell them you have a firearm to declare. Airline employees are NOT to touch the firearm at all, and YOU are not allowed to take it out of the case at the ticket counter.
    * You fill out forms. Tag goes in bag.
    * Bag goes over to TSA area, where TSA inspects it and tags the outside of the firearm case which is then placed BACK in your suitcase.
    * Suitcase is then sent down the belt, through the TSA scanning room with all the other bags, and winds up on the exact same belt with all the other baggage. If it’s a rifle or other oversized case, it will wind up going down the exact same “oversize” belt with the skiis, golf clubs, etc.
    * Bag goes in cargo bin, and plane goes away.

    No ‘extra tracking’ is performed. No extra labels are put on the bag.
    (Source: up until a few months ago, I worked p/t for an airline, doing ticket counter and ramp. We had training classes on this. I still have my training manuals at home and they verify this information.)

    The TSA/etc does not want bags being singled out, especially ones that contain firearms. Firearm owners also do not want their luggage having any extra tags on it.

  44. Alex says:

    Good tips. Thanks.

  45. damageddude says:

    Heh. About 20 years ago I worked at TWA in JFK as a customer service rep. While I’m sure times are different now, if an agent wanted your bag to get lost it was gone and wasn’t coming back. Going to Albany and you’re rude to the agent? Your bag is going to LA — without anything on the outside, like your name, to distinguish it (protip: put your name, cell phone number and where you are going to be in the bag). The ramp workers were indeed your enemy — especially when “shopping” during holiday season.

    And just because the ticket agent said your bag was going to make the flight, even though the pane is due to leave in 5 minutes, doesn’t mean your bag will make the flight — the agent just wants your obnoxious self to go away after you gave the agent a hassle about your bag not making the flight because of your poor time management skills. And yes, beware the over packed bags — I worked in lost/damaged luggage for a time and saw what happened to overstuffed bags. Once the luggage is out of the bag there really is no way to know where it goes (unless someone just happens to see the bag come apart).