Yes, check in early to be sure that your luggage makes the flight.
Always carry on as many bags as allowed.
Allow enough time between connecting flights. Give your luggage a reasonable chance to make it on to your continuing flight.
Don't leave your bags unattended, even for a short time. Always be aware of where they are.
Be sure to label all bags clearly with name, address and telephone number, inside. Name and phone number ONLY, on the outside.
Retain any paperwork given to you by the airline when checking bags. It will be easier to track if your bags are delayed or lost.
Mark bags with bright colors, ribbons or colored tape. Identification will be easier and would-be thieves will realize that your bags are more likely to be noticed and remembered.
Strip bags of any old tags. They could cause your luggage to be routed to a previous destination in error.
Be sure that new tags placed on your bags are for the correct airline, with the right airport, 3 letter destination code on them.
Label both the outside and the inside of your bags, in the event that outside tags are torn off.
Include information about where you are staying and the dates, to help the bags get to you, if lost or delayed.
Remember details of the type, shape, look and style of your bags, in case they go missing. A description like "Medium size black nylon" probably fits half the luggage on the plane. Know the brand name, size, color, material and any identifiable marks that can help the airline locate your luggage.
When traveling with a friend, consider switching a few items with each other. Putting a few things in their bag will allow you something to use in the event that your bags are lost or delayed. You can carry a few items for them in case the same thing occurs.
Check the airline's record and avoid using one with a history of one that loses or damages a lot of luggage.
Upon arrival, find out where the luggage from your plane is being unloaded. Normally it takes some time for the bags to get to the carousel. It might also take a while for you to get there, so don't dally. It's always better for you to get there and wait for the bags than to have them already waiting. Since all bags come out on a conveyor belt anyone may be able to walk up, get the bag and walk away. Many airports do not check tags before passengers leave the area. No one will know if someone in a crowd is the true owner or not. Ultimately, the responsibility is yours !
Not only thieves, but fellow passengers may grab the wrong bag. Your medium sized black nylon bag looks pretty much like every one's medium sized black nylon bag ! Be there when the bags drop onto the carousel from the conveyor belt. If they don't show up, notify the airline ASAP.
Many bags do look alike. Be sure to check to make sure that the bags you are retrieving are really yours.
Inspect your bags and notify the airline of any missing or damaged luggage BEFORE leaving the airport. Identification of a lost bag will be easier if a packing list has been made up before hand.
When you leave the airport, keep an eye on your luggage until you arrive in your hotel room. Taxi lines, rental car counters, hotel and rental car vans and hotel lobbies are all likely places to lose bags.
Never assume that drivers will automatically unload your bags. They may be turning around and hurrying back to the airport for another pickup.
Never leave bags in a hotel lobby expecting someone to bring them to your room, unless you have made that arrangement with a bellman.
Watch your bags on rental car shuttle vans. Often they make several stops and another customer could accidentally grab your bags and be gone before you realize it.
File a claim before leaving the airport area. Most claims will not be honored if they are made after you leave airport property.
Provide a complete description of your bags. Try to make it easier for the airline to locate the missing pieces.
Leave complete contact information and itinerary, with both home and destination addresses and phone numbers.
Make those where you are staying aware of your situation in case of phone calls or deliveries.
Find out who to call and times that they are available to get updates on the lost bags. Many airlines offer an online tracking service that can be accessed by you to check on lost bags.
Check the airline’s missing or lost luggage policy. All airlines have their policies in writing and must provide them for you. Ask if, how and how much you will be reimbursed if you buy replacement items. Does it still hold true if your bags are found the next day ?.
Each airline is different, but most set their liability maximum at only $1250.00 USD per paid passenger, on domestic flights.
Valuable items such as jewelry, cash, heirlooms, electronics and fragile or perishable items are usually not covered unless you have purchased "excess valuation" insurance.
You will be required to provide receipts for any items lost or damaged.
Be aware that the value of lost items will be depreciated, due to age and/or wear. Don’t expect to get full purchase price replacement value.
International carriers determine the value of luggage based on weight. Be sure that the weight of your bags is notated somewhere at check-in. If your luggage is not weighed, the airline will assume the maximum allowable weight of 70 pounds.
This is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report web page. The site contains hard to find information on flight delays, mishandled baggage, over-sales or overbooking of flights, consumer complaints and disability complaints for the ten largest U.S. airlines. Each of these sections provides information to assist travelers to evaluate each which major airline and decide which would provide them the best service.
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