10 tips on how to deal with lost luggage

You finally land at your vacation destination, and head to the baggage claim area ready to grab your bags and get your holiday started! You wait, and you wait some more, and soon you’re the only one left waiting. Your luggage never turns up. This ranks up there as one of every traveller’s greatest logistical nightmares, but thankfully Skyscanner has some great tips for dealing with missing suitcases and how to minimise that happening at the start.

1. Keep it simple

Many suitcase designs are drab and simple, tempting you to opt for a branded suitcase-maybe even from a designer label-that is high-quality and beautifully stands out from the crowd. But do keep in mind that anything that stands out will also attract unnecessary attention. Choose a less flashy bag that blends in with the rest, and you’re less likely to invite wandering hands from “accidentally” taking your belongings.

Choose luggage with bland colours so you don’t draw unwanted attention. Photo: Planet Traveller

2. Be unique

Now that you have a suitcase that blends in, you’ll next want to ensure it has enough unique and identifiable characteristics that keeps it from being taken by mistake. Some good ways to make your luggage distinctly yours are to: get brightly coloured luggage straps; have stickers on your bags; or label your suitcases with your name written in bold. Making your suitcases distinct also wards off thieves, who will prefer a more discreet bag to your loudly decorated one.

Stickers are a great way to set your luggage apart, and also to show off your globetrotting status! Photo: Pixabay

3. Your phone is your best friend

When you’ve just hopped off a killer 15-hour long haul flight, taking a quick power nap in the taxi on the way to your hotel is a great way to recharge. But don’t forget about your luggage in the boot! Ask your driver how long the journey would take, then set a phone alarm to wake you up just before you reach your destination. Pro tip: name that alarm “GET YOUR BAGS!” as an added assurance you don’t forget!

Never leave the taxi without your luggage! Use your phone to remind you. Photo: Pixabay

4. Good Karma

You’ve flown for over 10 hours to your destination, you disembark your plane, and you head to baggage claim to pick up your luggage and get your vacation started! But as the crowd of passengers waiting for their bags dwindles, leaving just you, you realise that today is not your lucky day-the airline has lost your luggage. You head to the airline counter with growing frustration, ready to lodge a complaint. But wait! Take a breath. And another. Remember that the person behind the counter is probably just as tired as you are, and is not the one who caused your luggage to be lost. Be kind, positive, and friendly; a smile and good manners goes a long way in helping to make the best of this unfortunate situation, and you will get much better service to boot.

Be kind to customer service personnel – smile and help them help you! Photo: The Straits Times

5. Avoid flashy padlocks

A loud padlock will attract as much attention as a flashy suitcase. People might start to wonder what you have that is so valuable you need such strong security. Curious thieves may even go through the trouble to breaking your lock in the hopes of finding something valuable worth their effort. So play down the attractiveness of your lock and luggage, and increase your chances of your stuff going by without much notice.

A simple, nondescript lock like this will keep your belongings secure without arousing suspicion. Photo: Pixabay

6. Check your luggage labels

When checking in your luggage at the counter, be sure to check that the ID on your baggage tags match your destination and your flight number. You can do this by checking the small tags that you get, or simply asking the attendant to check for you. Sometimes human error can happen, and it’s better to check now before your bags get whisked away to Timbuktu (unless that’s your destination!).

It’s also good practice to stick your small baggage tags to your passport to make sure you don’t lose it. In the event your bags do get lost, this little tag will help tremendously in getting your stuff back!

Lastly, as you pick up your suitcases at the baggage claim area, double-check the bag tags to ensure they’re yours. You wouldn’t want to make a second trip to the airport to return someone else’s lookalike luggage that you grabbed.

A bag with your very own label lets you know it’s definitely yours – confirm plus chop. Photo: Pixabay

7. Divide and conquer

A clever way to lessen the effects of lost luggage is to split your essential belongings between multiple suitcases. If one bag is lost, at least you’ll still have some clothes to last you the few days while waiting for your luggage to be returned. But do remember to be strategic about splitting clothes; you wouldn’t want to be stuck with 5 shorts and no shirts, or all socks and no underwear! Doing this is also an added precaution if you’re flying to more remote destinations that are not serviced frequently by your airline, as you may have to wait a while longer to be reunited with your luggage.

Pack smartly by splitting up your essentials. Photo: The New Paper

8. Keep important documents with you

This is pretty much the golden rule of travelling. Always, always, always keep important documents like your passport, credit cards, and cash with you at all times and not in your check-in luggage. In case of any emergency, large or small, having some money and a universal form of identification (i.e. your passport) in a foreign land will go a long way in helping you survive and get through your crisis.

Important documents like your passport, cash, and boarding pass should never be checked in. Photo: The Straits Times

9. Technology is your friend

In our modern day and age, you can expect there to be a technological solution for almost any problem. The case of the missing luggage is definitely one of them. While this won’t guarantee that your luggage won’t go missing, a luggage tracker like TRACE ME costs $22 and can give you peace of mind if you ever lose your bags. The unique number of the tag allows your luggage to be traced, wherever it may be, as it is integrated with the global airline baggage tagging system used by all airports. Another tracking software, ReboundTAG, goes the extra mile by having a microchip embedded in the tags for even easier tracking. Each ReboundTAG costs $43 and comes with membership service for a year. For the tech-lover, you’ll want to keep an eye out for Bag2Go. Developed by Airbus, this electronic luggage tracker is embedded in each suitcase and uses satellite tracking together with a phone app to tell you where your bag is at all times. Roll-out of this new tech is still underway, but soon lost luggage will be a problem of yesteryear.

RIMOWA’s range of smart suitcases with Bag2Go technology lets you track your bags, wherever they may be. Photo: RIMOWA

10. Be prepared for any lost-luggage

As any good Boy Scout will tell you: Always be prepared. This is certainly good advice for travellers too! Before you fly, note down the contact numbers for the airline you’re flying with. When you realise your luggage has been lost, you won’t want to waste any time searching for the right number to call. On-the-ground staff can only be so helpful in letting you know your luggage is not at the airport, but actually getting your stuff back is the responsibility of the airline. Some smaller airports or airlines might not have a help desk either, so having that number on hand will leave you one less thing to worry about.

Losing your luggage can be stressful, but being prepared can help tremendously. Photo: The Straits Times