Although it doesn’t happen too often, losing luggage can singlehandedly ruin your holiday plans. That’s because you suddenly shift your focus on its recovery or securing replacement items than adhering to your itinerary. The presence of mind, forward-thinking, and a few other tricks can help avoid the headache relating to lost or delayed luggage.

Check-in early

Image by M W from Pixabay

Passengers who check-in just as the counters open will likely have their luggage securely handled and funneled into the right compartment. Meanwhile, those who arrive late and only have minutes to spare or got stuck in a long line of fellow travelers have a higher chance of misrouted baggage.

Luggage handlers need enough time to sort out and load bags into the plane, especially in airports that rely on the manual loading of containers. Sometimes luggage that arrives too late may find the airplane’s compartment already closed and sealed before the flight.

Make luggage easily identifiable

Sometimes, luggage is misplaced not by airline staff but by fellow passengers. Although bags come in different styles, sizes, and colors, there are too many bags that look alike as they arrive at the arrival conveyor.

If your bag shares similar physical features with ten others in your flight, it has a higher chance of getting picked up by someone else. Make it more distinct by attaching a colorful bandana or marking it with bright adhesive tape.

Label your bags

Although it’s an essential thing to do when handling bags, many passengers fail to attach luggage tags on their luggage.

A flimsy paper tag usually available at the airline check-in counter is not a suitable replacement and can easily detach from the baggage during handling, loading, and disembarkation. Some passengers invest in “Not Yours!” and other tags that shout bold statements. But they, too, have become way too familiar. One can wish the same “Not your bag” or “Not yours” tags are not attached to identical bags.

Avoid short layovers

You may be happy to get a well-deserved break and be on your onward flight after a short layover. But short layovers can also increase the likelihood of bags going missing.

Be aware of a reasonable amount of time to transfer your luggage from one airline to another. Then confirm with the transfer desk that your bag has been accounted for. Online booking sites sometimes sell multi-leg flights with very short layovers — sometimes less than an hour. Therefore, if you’re booking through them, ensure there is enough time to transfer your bag.

Ship your bag

Who says your bag should travel with you? It’s possible to ship it to your destination instead of checking it in. Not only you’ll significantly reduce the risk of losing your luggage, but you also avoid paying expensive fees on excess luggage, which can cost a fortune for a fraction of your intended luggage.

For example, American Airlines charges $100 for checked bags weighing more than 50 lb. On flights within the U.S. In comparison, UPS charges $66.24 to ship a 55-lb. Bag from Los Angeles to Chicago. Taking this option requires prior planning since luggage will take a longer time to arrive.

If you send your luggage to your hotel a week before your flight, you not only save money but also have the ability to track the progress of your freight.

Verify destination stickers

Sometimes, a busy airport staff might inadvertently slap a sticker other than your intended destination. For example, your luggage might be labeled LGA instead of JFK on a flight to New York. You can check this while checking in your luggage.

Just before receiving your boarding pass, the attendant will generate a sticker and attach the destination code — knowing your destination’s code can be a lifesaver for some travelers. Verify and ensure that this sticker’s label matches your intended destination, even if your trip has a stopover elsewhere.

In case your luggage is nowhere to be found

In some cases, the conveyor has just dropped off the last piece of luggage, but you’re still waiting for yours. In such cases, promptly notify the airline and airport luggage staff of the missing bag. On top of informing authorities, there are also a few things you can do.

Get insured

Travel insurance may cover a variety of things, such as canceled flights, medical fees, or lost bags. Signing up for one — be sure to understand the coverage before committing to it — provides peace of mind and assistance in times of distress. While you’ll be happy to pay for it and have your bags intact, there’s a relief on the way in case your luggage goes missing.

Prepare proof of ownership

There are many ways to prove ownership of luggage. Some would prepare a checklist of content, while others will take a photo of your luggage. Airport staff who recovered the bag may need proof of ownership, such as an identification that matches the bag tag. Other passengers take a picture or enumerate the list of the luggage content as proof of purchase. Sometimes airlines won’t hand over the luggage of its claimant fails to describe what is inside.


Losing your luggage can be a stressful experience and spoil an otherwise fun vacation with family or a productive business trip. Follow the above tips and be assured your luggage remains intact.