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How Can I Prevent Lost or Delayed Bags?

SmarterTravel

Dear Jessica,

Is there anything I can do to prevent my bags from being lost or delayed?

—D.H.

Dear D.H.,

Whether your bag is lost or delayed is ultimately out of your control, but you can take a few simple steps to ensure a better chance that your bag arrives when you do.

Tag the outside of each of your bags with your name, home or work address, and cell phone, home, and/or work numbers. Include the same information inside each bag, plus an address where you can be reached at your destination along with a copy of your flight itinerary.

Add an easy-to-spot identifier to your bag so you can locate it in the midst of a sea of black suitcases, and (just as importantly) to ensure that someone else doesn’t accidentally run off with your bag. Ribbons and brightly colored luggage tags work well. You can also request a cargo bag that will make your bag stand out and prevent it from damage and theft.

Avoid checking in at the last minute, because even if you can race to catch your flight, your bag may not make it.

On a similar note, avoid scheduling tight connections. Nonstop flights are the best bet for a decreased chance of lost or delayed bags, followed by direct flights, which stop but do not change aircraft. If you must make a connection, using the same airline is ideal.

Upon check-in, ensure the gate agent checks your bags all the way through to your final destination whenever possible and that the proper three-letter airport code is on the bag tag. Be sure you get a claim ticket for each bag so they can be more easily located if lost.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Prevent Lost Luggage

Of course, even if you follow these steps, your bag may still be delayed or lost (particularly if you are flying on one of these airlines). If your bag is lost or delayed, report it to your airline before leaving the airport. Although it’s a major hassle, remember that the vast majority of mishandled bags are reunited with their owners within a few days.

With the new charges for each checked bag, efficient packing is more important than ever. If you prefer to avoid the hassle of checking bags altogether, shipping your bags (while pricey) will ensure they arrive when and where you want them.

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Last Updated: September 4, 2015

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