(CNN) — It’s enough to give anyone nervous about the chaos in the sky one more reason to take an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost, or damaged luggage.
The concern is justified.
Handing over checked suitcases these days can almost feel like a leap of faith.
How bad is the problem?
In May 2021, 0.38 bags out of 100 carried on the plane were mishandled. That number rose to 0.56 per 100 bags scheduled in May 2022.
However, this still gets more than 99 out of 100 bags where they need to go without incident.
Unclaimed bags will be collected at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 baggage claim on 8 July 2022. Scenes like this make people wonder how to avoid such a mess.
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Scott Keyes, the founder of Flight Deals and tRavel advisory site Scott’s Cheap Flights said it encourages people not to let news of baggage problems put them off their flights and vacations.
“Any lost bag is a major disruption to the people whose bag it is – and I certainly don’t want to downplay that – but I want people to have the right perspective that in the vast majority of cases your flight will fly and your checked baggage will.” will arrive,” he told CNN Travel.
Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, sees better days ahead.
“As staffing improves, more pilots are trained and flight frequency increases, we will see this problem gradually disappear,” she told CNN Travel in an email.
In the meantime, you are not completely powerless. 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 you go to the airport
Book direct flights: If you’re really worried about your checked bags, prioritize nonstop flights, or at least layovers with generous time, Keyes said.
“Bags are most likely to be lost in this transfer between planes at the connection, especially when there is a close connection.” And he said it’s doubly so for international flights with close connections.
Consider low-cost airlines: He said full-service airlines were more likely to lose your bags than discount airlines, which tend to have more non-stop flights where there’s less chance of a bag being lost in transit.
Older airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based solely on that, but it’s “an interesting side factor to consider.”
Suitcases roll onto a Sundair A320 aircraft at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a picture of your luggage. It might come in handy later.
Robert Michael/Picture Alliance/Getty Images
Take photos of your luggage and its contents: Jo Hoban, a travel agent 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 airline offices ask.” become is what that is bag brand name, bag color, bag size and bag contents.”
She also said people should lay out what they want to put on the bed and take a picture of it too. If the bag gets lost, this helps when creating a table of contents.
Use baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your bags on their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your bags are with you on the flight – or at least give you insight into your bags’ location, if so it’s late.” Scott’s Cheap Flights in an email press release.
“I had a bag taken from the carousel at the Salt Lake airport [City]. Luckily I knew the people who took my bag so it was easy to exchange it,” she said. “But what if I didn’t know these people? What if they were complete strangers and brought my bag home? Hopefully they’re good, honest people and see that I have a name and phone number in my pocket so they can call me and tell me what’s wrong.”
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The power of hand luggage: Airlines can’t lose baggage you never check in. Twidale recommends packing as lightly as possible and only using carry-on luggage. You save time leaving the airport and have more peace of mind.
Check your credit card coverage: Before purchasing additional travel insurance, Keyes recommends that you check your credit card policy for travel coverage.
You may be able to get additional compensation (for what the airlines don’t cover) not only for lost luggage, but also for things you may need to buy while waiting for your luggage.
At the airport before you fly
Check your luggage in good time: Travelers United says last-minute baggage handling can lead to a greater likelihood of problems.
“Don’t push the system. The slightest delay can have serious consequences as your luggage descends the conveyor belt and is selected for security with little time,” the website reads.
Work the phone camera again: Keyes suggested just before you drop off your checked bags, you open them and take a picture.
“If your bag is lost and you have valuables in it … a photo of what was in it will really strengthen your case for subsequent compensation.”
If your luggage is delayed
Report your problem and fill out forms at the airport: If your luggage hasn’t turned up, inform the airline.
“Often airline staff will explain that the luggage has been found but is delayed until the next flight,” says Travelers United. “If you have time, wait. If not, fill out the appropriate lost baggage forms at the airport.”
Let the airline deliver your luggage: Keyes said if an airline can locate your bags but it will take hours to arrive, make sure staff have the address where you are and use the airline’s delivery service.
Keep receipts: “If you’re buying anything to get you through the days without your bags – from a new bathing suit to toothpaste – keep the receipts. You may need this to get a refund,” advises Scott’s Cheap Flights.
If your luggage is lost
In a baggage claim like here in Hamburg, suitcases can literally stack up. If your luggage is lost, you can get compensation.
“They have a dedicated aviation enforcement bureau where they are much more proactive in protecting consumers and trying to crack down on airlines when they don’t offer customers the kind of compensation or refund that they are asking for under federal law. “
Limits of liability: There’s fine print, exceptions, and paperwork/documentation hurdles, but you can eventually get cash for your lost bags.
You are responsible for damage to wheels, handles and straps.