(CNN) — That’s enough to give anyone already nervous about the chaos in the sky another reason to pop an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost, or damaged luggage.
The concern is well founded.
Handing over checked bags can almost feel like a leap of faith these days.
How serious is the problem?
In May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 pieces of baggage on board were mishandled. This figure rose to 0.56 per 100 bags loaded in May 2022.
However, this still puts over 99 out of 100 sacks where they needed to go without incident.
Unclaimed suitcases are gathered at Heathrow Airport‘s Terminal 3 baggage claim on July 8, 2022. Scenes like these have people wondering how to avoid such a mess.
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Scott Keyes, the founder of Flight Deals and youRavel’s advice site Scott’s Cheap Flights said it encouraged people not to let news of baggage problems deter them from their flights and holidays.
“Every bag that gets lost is a huge disruption to the people whose bag is – and I certainly don’t want to minimize that – but I want people to have the good perspective that in the vast majority of cases your flight is going to fly and your checked bag will arrive,” he told CNN Travel.
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, sees better days ahead.
“As staff numbers improve, more pilots are trained and the frequency of flights increases, we will see this problem start to disappear,” she said in an email to CNN Travel. .
In the meantime, you are not completely helpless. There are things you can do and strategies you can adopt to avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost or delayed baggage.
Before going to the airport
Book non-stop flights: If you’re really concerned about your checked bags, prioritize nonstop flights or at least layovers with generous weather, Keyes said.
“Bags are more likely to get lost during this transfer between planes when connecting, especially if there is a tight connection.” And he said that’s doubly the case for international flights with close connections.
Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than low-cost airlines, which tend to have more nonstop flights that are less likely to lose baggage in transit.
Traditional airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based on that alone, but it’s “an interesting secondary factor to consider.”
Suitcases roll on a Sundair A320 plane at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a photo of your luggage. It might be useful later.
Robert Michael/picture alliance/Getty Images
Take photos of your luggage and its contents: Jo Hoban, a travel agency in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, told CNN Travel that she advises customers to “take a picture of their luggage because the first thing the airline offices will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag.”
She also said that people should lay out what they plan to take on the bed and take a picture of it as well. If the bag is lost, it helps to create a content record.
Use baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your baggage in their apps, which can help you have peace of mind that your baggage is on the flight with you – or at least give you an overview of the status of your baggage. location of your baggage in the event of a delay,” Scott’s Cheap Flights said in an emailed press release.
“I had a bag removed from the carousel at Salt Lake Airport [City]. Fortunately, I knew the people who took my bag, so it was easy to exchange it,” she said. “But again, what if I didn’t know these people? What if they were complete strangers and brought my bag home? I hope they are good, honest people and they will see that I have a name and phone number in the bag so they can call me and let me know of the error.”
Samantha Brown has been traveling the world as a television travel host for 20 years. She often only takes hand luggage and offers her top tips for packing. First tip: opt for a rigid suitcase
The power of hand luggage: Airlines cannot lose baggage that you never checked. Twidale suggests packing as light as possible and only using hand luggage. You will save time leaving the airport and have peace of mind.
Review your credit card coverage: Before purchasing additional travel insurance, Keyes suggested you check your credit card policy for travel protection.
You could get additional compensation (for what the airlines don’t cover) not only for lost luggage, but also reimbursement for things you may need to buy while you’re waiting for your luggage.
At the airport before boarding the plane
Check your baggage in a timely manner: According to Travelers United, last-minute baggage checks can lead to a greater risk of problems.
“Don’t push the system. The slightest delay can have serious consequences as your bags roll down the conveyor belt and are selected for security screening with little time to spare,” its website says.
Work again this phone camera: Keyes suggested that just before handing in your checked suitcases, open them and take a picture.
“If your bag is lost and you have valuables in it…having a photo of what was in it will really strengthen your case for compensation after the fact.”
If your baggage is delayed
Report your problem and complete the forms at the airport: If your baggage did not show up, notify the airline.
“Many times airline staff will explain that the baggage has been located but will be delayed until the next flight,” Travelers United said. “If you have time, wait. Otherwise, complete the appropriate lost baggage forms at the airport.”
Let the airline deliver your baggage: Keyes said if an airline can locate your bags but it will be hours before they arrive, make sure the representatives have the address where you will be and use the airline’s delivery service.
Keep receipts: “If you’re buying anything to get you through the days without luggage — from a new bathing suit to toothpaste — keep the receipts. You might need them for reimbursement,” advises Scott’s Cheap Flights.
If your baggage is lost
Suitcases can really pile up in a baggage claim area, like this one in Hamburg, Germany. If your luggage is lost, you can get compensation.
“They have a special aviation law enforcement office where they’re much more proactive in protecting consumers and trying to crack down on airlines when they don’t provide customers with the kind of compensation or refunds they want. they are required to do under federal law.
Limits of liability: There are fine print, exceptions, and paperwork/documentation hurdles, but you may be able to get money back for your lost bags.
They are responsible for damage to wheels, handles and straps.