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Most of us just cannot avoid a lost baggage problem.
If you are a seasoned air traveler, you probably noticed that some people love to carry big carry-ons and plenty of checked-in bags. This is just an invitation for a lost luggage problem.
Here are more tips on how to avoid being inconvenienced by lost bags on your next trip.
When packing your luggage, avoid putting valuables like cash and jewelry and critical items like medicines, keys, passports, tour vouchers, business papers, manuscripts, heirlooms, and perishables. Fragile items like cameras, eyeglasses, and glass containers should be wrapped carefully in padding to avoid getting broken.
When traveling, you need a luggage that is sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of the trip, and spacious to hold all the necessary stuff you will need for your vacation or trip.
Carry items that you will need during the first 24 hours of your trip. Basically these would just be toiletries, a change of underwear, a camera, a laptop and your wallet.
Don’t over pack checked bags. This puts pressure on the latches, making it easy for them to spring open.
Put a tag on the outside of your baggage with your name, home address, and home and work phone numbers. Ask the airline for privacy tags that will conceal this information from prying eyes. Put the same information inside each bag together with an address and telephone number where you can be reached in your destination.
Carry on bags – Check with the airline for limits on the size, weight, and number of carry-on bags for your specific flight. There is no single federal standard. If you are using connecting flights, check with all the airlines. It is always wise to make carry-on baggage light so as not to exceed the overhead bin load limits.
When packing, don’t pack anything in the carry-on that can be construed as a weapon.
It would be wise also to make a list of items that are in your bags. You will need this to prove the value of your claim, just in case the airlines lose your bags.
Do check in earlier than is required. Checking in early avoids most lost baggage problems, as your baggage is loaded earlier in the plane.
Make sure that you get a claim check for every bag that you checked-in. Keep this until all your bags are with you in your destination airport. Never lose them.
Verify that the check-in agent attaches a destination tag to each one of your checked-in baggages. Check that the tags show the correct three-letter code for the destination airport. It would also be wise to remove old destination tags and labels from your bag. Tip: For those who want to keep labels as souvenirs, use a hair dryer set to high heat to remove the sticker labels cleanly.
Know where your bags are checked. They may be checked only to one of your intermediate stops rather than your final destination. This will happen if you must clear Customs short of your final destination. For example, some flights originating from Southeast Asia with final destination to the U. S. clear Customs in Honolulu.
Do this also if you have connecting flights between airlines that do not have interline agreements.
If you have a choice, select flights that minimize or eliminate baggage transfers. Select flights that do not require you to change airlines or planes to reach your destination.
To lock or not to lock your checked-in luggage. I would say lock it to discourage pilferage. The Transportation and Security Administration recommends not to lock, a locked luggage is still the safer choice. If you did not pack any suspicious objects in your bag, the security personnel at the airport would have no reason to open it.
At the Baggage Carousel
If your bag arrives open, unlocked, or visibly damaged, check immediately if any of the contents are missing or damaged and report any problems to your airline before leaving the airport. Insist that the airline fill out a form and give you a copy, even if they say the bag will be in on the next flight. Get the agent’s name and an appropriate telephone number (not the Reservations) for following up.
Most airlines will take your claim checks when your report a problem. Make sure that this fact is noted in all copies of the report. Write down the number of the claim check in your copy of the form. Better still ask them to give you a photocopy of the claim check.
Before leaving the airport, ask the airline if they will deliver the bag without charge when it is found. Also ask about an advance or reimbursement for any items you must buy while your bag is missing.
At Your Destination
Open your bags immediately. Report any damage to contents or pilferage immediately by telephone. Make note of the date and time of the call, and the name and telephone number of the person you spoke with. Follow up immediately with a registered letter.
If You Have A Lost Baggage
If despite the precautions you have taken, your baggage did not arrive at your destination, follow up your claim and be persistent. Never give up.
Did you know that airlines have liability limits for lost baggage? This limit is usually $2,800 per passenger – not per bag. If the property in your checked in bag is more than this, purchase an excess valuation from the airline.
Your credit card company may offer optional baggage insurance. Check with your card company and purchase one. It is a wise investment for the minimal cost it entails.
Other Travel Tips
Put a distinguishing mark on your bags. A bright colored ribbon would be enough to set it apart from similar-looking bags. A friend of mine lost his baggage because another passenger took it, thinking it was her luggage.
Expensive bags are not a necessity in commercial flights. Sturdy and spacious, but within the sizes allowed by airlines will do.
Most of these suggestions on how to avoid lost luggage problems are just simple precautions we can take to avoid messing up our travel or vacation plans. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.