Each year, 25 million bags are mishandled worldwide. And, if you’ve been on the other end, it’s a frustrating experience.
As more and more travellers fly further afield it’s not surprising. In many places, the infrastructure to handle all this baggage is pretty basic. In Europe, the risk of lost luggage is even more prevalent – 7.3 bags are lost per 1,000 passengers, compared with 2.85 in North America and 1.8 in Asia.
It’s also increasingly common for passengers to travel with multiple bags and transfer across multiple airlines. That’s why, in 2018, 46 per cent of misplaced bags were lost during flight connections.
The future of travel involves luggage traceability, says Zebra Technologies’ Dean Porter, who worked to help automate baggage tracking in 14 Greek airports. Technology has allowed smaller airports to automate baggage tracking. Now, with more and more workers armed with mobile devices, bags can be accurately scanned and identified much faster. When all these scans link to a central database, it allows increased visibility over checked luggage and at every stage.
Open to technology
“Looking forward, travellers should be openminded about future iterations of technology, such as tagging or chipping suitcases, to ensure visibility throughout their journey,” writes Porter.
That being said, there are still things you can do now to make the process run more smoothly. Here are 7 tips to help keep track of your luggage:
- Upgrade your luggage tag. Opt for a smarter luggage tag. Several high-tech brands of tags feature codes or microchips that travellers can use to detect lost bags. ReboundTag, for example, is a sophisticated bag-tag brand that tracks missing luggage with an embedded microchip.
- Check-in early. Travellers who check in late are more likely to get separated from their bags. Baggage handlers need time to process luggage and load it onto planes.
- Put an itinerary inside your bag. Luggage tags can easily be torn off, but a copy of your itinerary, placed on top of your belongings inside your bag, will stay put. Place a copy of your travel plans along with contact information in a prominent place inside checked bags. If your bag gets delayed, it will be easier for airline staff to forward your luggage.
- Ship your bags instead of checking them. By shipping your luggage, you diminish the chance that it'll get lost, and you also avoid costly overweight-, oversize-, and checked-bag fees. If you plan and ship your luggage, you can save money and track it.
- Take photos. Snap a picture of the outside of your bag to show the airline staff member who is helping you locate lost luggage. It's also wise to take a quick photo of your baggage-claim ticket, in case you lose it, and a picture of the inside as well. This will come in handy in case you need to file an insurance claim.
- Use a luggage strap. With so many similar-looking suitcases in this world, give your bag a makeover with a colourful luggage strap, some neon duct tape, or whatever else you can think of to make it stand out.
- Avoid short layoversTight layovers increase the likelihood your bags will go missing. If your flight is late, the window of time the airport staff has to transfer your bag from one plane to another narrows. Pay attention to the length of your layover, especially when you have an international connecting flight. Allow two or more hours on international layovers.
Related reading: Ever wonder where unclaimed baggage goes?