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Checking A Bag? How To Minimize The Chances Of Lost Luggage

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It's been a chaotic summer travel season, and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon. Travelers are seeing delays, cancellations, and disruptions on a massive scale. One way to get through the chaos a bit easier is to avoid checking a bag. However, this isn't always possible when trip requirements call for more luggage. So, below are some of the best things you can do to minimize your chances of losing checked bags. Some are familiar tried-and-true tips, some make use of newer technology, and some are simple but often overlooked.

Woman standing against wall with luggage in airport

Luggage Basics

  • Stand out! Unless you're rocking some unique bags, luggage tends to blend together. Make your bag stand out by adding some character to it. Brightly colored tags, tape, bandanas, or other items can all help make sure your luggage isn't confused with another passenger's.
  • Tag your Bag. Be sure to put luggage tags on checked bags, and level up your tags by avoiding the paper ones that airlines provide. Instead, invest in some strong tags that become a permanent fixture on your luggage. For added security, buy tags that keep more detailed information (like addresses) hidden until removed from the bag.
Luggage Tag On Suitcase

Leveling Up Your Luggage

  • Add a Luggage Sticker. Similar to a luggage tag, consider adding a large sticker on the side of your bag with details like; Name, Phone Number, Whatsapp Details, Email, etc. This will make it much easier to locate your bag and acts as a backup in case your luggage tag comes off. Be sure to leave off more personal details like your address, as it will be on display for all to see.
  • Lock it Up. Lost luggage doesn't always mean the whole bag, so consider adding a lock to your luggage. Not only will it help deter opportunistic luggage thieves, but it could also help keep things zipped up when your bag is full. However, make sure whatever lock you add is TSA-approved.
Woman putting a luggage lock in her bag

Add Some Tech To Your Bag

  • GPS Tags. As airlines and airports add new technology to the mix, passengers should feel free to do the same. Consider adding a GPS tracker to your luggage, such as Apple AirTags, LugLoc Trackers, or Tile Pros. There are many options, and most only require a smartphone and an app to work.

If equipped with a GPS tag, you'll be able to check on your luggage as soon as it leaves check-in. Once on board for your flight, you'll be able to watch your bag approach the plane and know that it is safely on board with you as you head to your destination.

Woman checking her phone in the airport

Simple But Overlooked

Not all tips have to be major or complicated, and sometimes the simplest things are the ones that get forgotten. Here are a few simple tips that may go unnoticed.

  • The Earlier, The Better. Try to check your bags as early as possible before your flight. If security isn't crazy, you will likely make it to your plane before your bags do. Give them a fighting chance by allowing for plenty of handling time.
  • Smooth Sailing. Luggage moves around a lot after the check-in counter. Straps and loose hanging items attached to your luggage can get caught in the process, lowering your chances of greeting your bag at landing.
  • Old Tags Lose Bags. Make sure to remove any old luggage tags (the ones with the barcode). The last thing you want is for your bag to get sent to your previous vacation spot without you.
Luggage tag with barcode on blue suitcase

Minimizing Damage If The Worst Occurs

Even if you follow all the tips above, there is still always a chance your luggage will be lost. However, you can still do some things to help minimize the effects of a lost bag.

  • Keep Valuables Close. Laptops, jewelry, medications, smartphones, and other valuables should be left at home or come with you in the cabin. Try to avoid putting anything you can't live without in your checked bag.
  • Travel Insurance. Many travel insurance companies include coverage for lost luggage. If possible, try to have receipts and photos of your items available in case you need to file a claim.
Travel Insurance Policy
  • Back-Up Info. Keep a copy of your personal details inside your bag. A copy of your trip plans and where you will be are helpful for the airport when they are trying to find out where to send your bag.
  • Pack a Smart Carry-On. Don't pack everything you need for your trip in your checked bag. Make sure you have enough clothing and essentials to get by for a few days in case of a delayed or lost bag.
Traveler with only carry on luggage

While it is impossible to guarantee that you won't lose your bag, the tips above will certainly help your chances. In the event of lost luggage, it is essential to know your passenger rights and start locating your baggage as soon as possible. With new technology like GPS tags, you may even be able to help the airline find your luggage more quickly.

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This article originally appeared on

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Terry Miller

Friday 8th of July 2022

I would also note that Delta and United now have smart phone apps that trace your bags and tell you when they are onboard or enroute to your flight. I used United on a recent trip to Jordan and felt relieved that my bag was with me and not headed for Japan.