Lessons From Delayed Luggage

Despite all the flights I have been on in my life, I somehow have always (luckily) avoided having any major issues related to luggage. That was, until last week. Mum and I headed over to England for a quick trip to see the family and my suitcase didn’t show up for three days! It was stressful, especially because when I went to speak with the American Airlines representative at Manchester Airport, she told me that there were no bags linked to my name in the system. This made me panic, mainly because the suitcase was filled with all my recent thrift finds (on the bright side, it made me realize how special these items are as they can never be replaced!).

While they did manage to track it down and deliver it to the hotel, there were a few days there when I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I did, however, take some solace in the fact that I was able to give them a clear description of the bag and its luggage tag. The whole experience reminded me of the important little things you need to do to reduce the chance of completely losing your luggage when you fly. Perhaps you also need a reminder? Here are my lessons from delayed luggage:

1. Choose a suitcase that stands out

When the American Airlines lady asked me to describe my bag, I was delighted that I didn’t have to say “plain black… like all the rest.” Having a suitcase that stands out from the hundreds of other black cases is essential if your suitcase goes missing. It is also helpful if it arrives. After a long flight, most people want to grab their bags and get out of the airport asap, which is why they may accidentally grab yours! You don’t necessarily need to buy a colorful case (although I love my teal blue Samsonite) but at least have one defining feature (such as a couple of colorful straps) so that everyone can tell your bag from the rest.

2. Have a luggage tag with your name on.

When I reported my bag missing, the first question they asked me was, “Does your luggage have your name on it?” Luckily, it did! And I was so happy that I had taken the five seconds required to write my name and e-mail on the tag – without that, it would have been a lot harder for them to reunite us. Your best option is to buy a well-made luggage tag that can accompany you on all your travels. This Etsy seller makes luggage tags from upcycled trash, while this Etsy seller makes them from upcycled maps. Alternatively, for a temporary solution, fill out one from the check-in desk and add it to your suitcase before you drop off your bag. For security reasons, only list your e-mail, business address, and cell phone.

3. Don’t pack expensive things.

When you are packing up your bags, make sure you remember to keep all valuables in your hand luggage as this is the only way you can guarantee they will be safe. Baggage liability is notoriously low for most airlines, and it often doesn’t cover valuables that get lost or damaged in the baggage hold. There is no point in taking the risk! Get yourself one of these jewelry roll travel cases so that your jewelry will be safe and organized while you are on the go. And anything else that can’t be replaced (your teddy bear!) should also be transported in your carry-on.

4. Have essentials in your carry-on.

In addition to valuables, you also want to make sure you have a few essentials in your carry-on to tide you over in case your luggage is delayed. Contact lenses, glasses, a couple of pairs of underwear, a toothbrush, and some deodorant are a good start. I always have these things packed in my carry-on and this experience made me so grateful that I did because it meant I wasn’t completely stranded.

5. Always keep your bag tag

There have been many times when I have instantly misplaced the bag tag that the check-in agent just gave me – especially when I have my ticket on my phone. Luckily, those times aren’t when my luggage went missing because, otherwise, it would have made locating and returning the bag tough (if not impossible). Make sure you always put your bag tag in a safe place and don’t dispose of it until you have retrieved your luggage at the other end.

6. Buy travel insurance

While it won’t prevent your luggage from getting lost, you should still always have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you for lost baggage. If your bags are delayed, your travel insurance will compensate you so that you can purchase some essentials. Knowing that you have this coverage will bring a huge sigh of relief and will reduce the chances that your missing luggage is going to ruin your holiday. In the rare chance that your luggage is completely lost, your insurance claim amount will restore any financial losses. I always use World Nomads for travel insurance!

Do you have any luggage-related tips to share?

Let me know in the comments below!


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