Tips For Getting Your Checked Bag Prepped For A Flight

While most of us try to cram as much as we can into our carry-on bags — and some travelers (you know who you are) stretch the definition of “carry-on” with bags that would have been checked in the pre-fee era — sometimes you just have to check a piece of luggage or two at the counter. But before you do, there are some steps you’ll want to take. has this pre-flight checklist for checked bags, which contains some great advice.

In addition to making sure your bag isn’t a toss or bump away from falling to pieces, you’ll want to remove all those checked-bag tags from previous flights. Yeah, you won’t look like the seasoned traveler you are, and you’ll have to say goodbye to that fantasy of the good-looking person behind you in line going, “You’ve been to Rio? Me too! We should make out,” or however that goes, but it also gives the baggage handlers and tracking system one fewer thing that could send your luggage to destinations unknown.

You’ll also want to put labels on both the inside and outside of your luggage. Okay, so maybe that sounds a bit like writing your name in your underwear, but if you regularly tossed your undies into a pile with thousands of other folks’ delicates, you’d want your name written all over the place on your pair — assuming you want them back. So it makes sense that you’d want that redundant label inside your bag just in case that exterior tag goes missing.

Here’s one we hadn’t heard before: If you have a zipper suitcase, line the zipper pulls up on the top of your bag, slightly off center.

“This position keeps them out of the way of the handles and out of the way of the bottom and sides, which are most likely to be brushed or banged up against other bags or machinery,” explains Jaunted.

As the story mentions, you could also put a small lock on the pulls to keep them from coming apart (or being easily used by a sticky-fingered airport employee).

Speaking of which, one thing we didn’t see in the Jaunted list was the suggestion to remove all valuables and essentials. This might seem like common sense to you, but most of the checked-bag crime we hear about involves travelers who put things like laptops, tablets, cash, and jewelry in their checked bags. These things should be put in a carry-on bag.

Additionally, you’ll want to remove things you will absolutely need if that checked bag goes missing or you don’t have access to it because of long flight delays. We’ve heard countless complaints over the years from travelers who were without needed medicines, baby supplies, and travel documents because they had put these in a checked bag that went missing.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.