How to Prevent Lost Luggage and Pack Wisely

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Here are a few tips to increase the chance of keeping your checked-in baggage safe and sound.


  • Put your name both outside and inside your bag in case your luggage tags fall off in transit; also, a copy of your itinerary inside will make it easier for an airline employee to find you if it becomes lost
  • Take a picture of your bags before you travel. You'll find having a photo of your lost luggage will be much easier than describing what your bag looks like at the claims desk
  • Pack a day's worth of clothes in your carry on--especially undergarments--so if your bags ever become lost you're not running around an unknown city looking for the essentials
  • Avoid short layovers: If you must connect through a second airport, be sure to leave enough time for you and your bags to make the next flight--a good rule of thumb is to try and leave at least an hour in between legs
  • Some airports are worse than others: Many British and U.S. airports are heavily backed-up in the wake of the foiled terrorist plot and may be more prone to misplace luggage. In general, Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport and Sydney International are among the world's worst as far as losing bags is concerned, so take heed before you fly through those airports

  • If your luggage is lost or even damaged, it's important that you file a report with the airline within 24 hours of your arrival, or else your claim could be dismissed
  • Also, if your bag is lost for good, you'll have to list all the items inside to get reimbursed, so it's important to write down what's in your bag before you fly.
  • Airlines pay a maximum of $2,800 per passenger for lost luggage on domestic flights, although each carrier's policy is different. For example, many exclude coverage of jewelry, camera equipment, and medications.
  • When delays occur, airlines usually advance passengers cash or reimburse you for necessary items like toiletries and a change of clothes, so it's important to save your receipts
  • Also, make sure to carry the address of the hotel or hotels you'll be staying at. Once the airline locates your bags, most will ship them to you free of charge so it's important that you know where they should send them
  • There is hope: In 98 percent of lost luggage situations, bags are eventually recovered, most within the first 24 to 48 hours.

    1. All the airlines have cut back on weight allowances¿if you check more than 50 pounds in a bag, you'll have to pay a fee (except for JetBlue, where the limit is 70 pounds), so pack light!

    2. Pack chronologically. If you know you're going to be golfing on your last day, pack it at the bottom.

    3. Put at least one outfit of yours in your companion's bag, and that way, if the airline loses your bag (or your companion's), you each at least have something to wear.

    4. Share the luggage load in general. When you travel with a group, decide ahead of time who's going to bring what. If you're sharing a suite or have adjoining rooms, you don't need multiple hair dryers and umpteen bottles of shampoo.

    5. Dry-cleaning bags stop clothes from wrinkling. Slide each garment into its own bag (leave the hanger at home) and place them flat on your bed, one on top of another. Then carefully fold the entire stack to fit it in your suitcase. Once you get to your hotel, hang everything up as soon as you reasonably can.

    6. Put shoes inside those plastic bags that the newspapers are delivered in. They're sturdy, just the right shape (long and thin), and at the end of the trip you can just throw the bags away. In fact, regular household items like soap dishes, film canisters, and contact lens cases can be used to hold delicate things like jewelry and small doses of over-the-counter medications.

    7. Place heavy items at the end of the suitcase that will be at the bottom when the suitcase is standing on end. This way the weight will hold the bag upright and it won't tip over.

    8. We love Ziploc bags! We use them for everything. To hold toiletries prone to ooze, to hold cell phones and wallets when we're on water rides at amusement parks, to hold umbrellas when they're wet but we don't want to carry them.

    9. Pack things inside of other things. Women's shoes inside of men's shoes, a camera inside a pair of shoes, etc.

    10. Pack a swimsuit in your carry on. If you're going on a cruise, you'll be able to hit the pool when everybody else is waiting for their baggage to be delivered to their cabins. And if your luggage is lost, you'll at least be able to swim.

    11. Consider shipping stuff ahead, especially baby supplies. You can order them from a company called and they'll be delivered to your hotel.

    14. Write a master packing list on your computer; it should include everything you might pack for any given trip. Then, when you're going on a specific trip, you can cross off the stuff you won't need¿and you don't have to write up a new list for the next trip.

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