Travel is back, but airlines are struggling to keep up with the demand, resulting in cancellations and lost luggage.
“Unfortunately, the airlines were not ready, they’re short staffed,” stated Johnny Jet, a travel industry expert who regularly flies all over the world. He puts his thoughts and findings in a daily travel newsletter.
I asked him how not to lose your luggage right now.
“Number one tip not to lose your bag, don’t check one. Carry on only, that is the way to go,” said Johnny Jet.
Makes perfect sense since a carry on never really leaves your side. But it’s unrealistic for everyone to follow unless you’re an expert packer or just going away for a weekend.
Still, if you can, you’ll have the least number of headaches and the most flexibility if you pack light and carry on.
If you do check your luggage, be sure to bring any medication, electronics and even a change of clothes on board.
Airline apps have gotten better at bag tracking, but you can keep a closer eye on your bag’s location by slipping a tracker tag in your luggage. If you have an iPhone, go with an AirTag. An individual tag runs $29 or a four pack is $99. They use the power of millions of Apple devices around the world to help you see where your bag is on a map.
One alternative is called the Chipolo One Spot. This is made by another company but still uses Apple’s excellent “Find My” network. These are slightly cheaper as a two pack is $50, or a four pack is $90.
If you have an Android phone, Tile trackers will work with it. The tracking capabilities might not be as great as Apple’s, but Tile continues to expand its finding network.
Jet also mentioned a service called Blue Ribbon Bags, which is like peace of mind insurance for your lost bag. When activated, they will attempt to help along the process of finding your bag.
“It’s $5… they guarantee that your bag will be at your destination within 96 hours, or they’ll give you $1000,” said Jet.
While you’re packing, be sure to take pictures of your suitcase and contents and put your name and phone number inside and out.
Also, you might want to skip the black hardback.
“They call it a 22BW in the industry because it’s the default for lost baggage,” said Jet.
Opt for luggage that looks unique.
“I use a company called Roam luggage they have over a million color combinations that you can do,” said Jet. Roam suitcases start at $550 but you can choose a unique color for about every aspect of them from the wheels to the front to the back, even the zipper.
An inexpensive alternative – just wrap a colorful strap around your bag. I used these on my recent trip to Rome. A four pack is about $15, and they help insure you can identify your bag and someone else doesn’t grab your bag by accident.
Finally, be sure to take a picture of your checked baggage stub and if your luggage does go missing, Jet recommends filing a report within 4 hours of landing.
“Don’t let them say ‘don’t worry we’ll find it for you,’ get that number,” concluded Jet.
Keep in mind, there are some regulations that may require airlines to compensate you for lost or delayed luggage and some premium credit cards also provide coverage for this sort of thing.