You know that sinking feeling you get while watching someone’s lone red duffel take its fifteenth ride around the baggage carousel and yet your luggage is nowhere in sight? Well, as of this month a new rule seeks to make that feeling a thing of the past. But just in case, we’ve got some tips to help you keep tabs on your bags.
INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION 753 STATES THAT ALL IATA MEMBER AIRLINES (WHICH REPRESENT 80 PERCENT OF TOTAL SCHEDULED GLOBAL AIR TRAFFIC) ARE REQUIRED TO TRACK EVERY PIECE OF BAGGAGE AT FOUR MANDATORY POINTS:
1 AT CHECK-IN
2 DURING AIRCRAFT LOADING
3 DURING TRANSFERS BETWEEN AIRCRAFT
4 ON ARRIVAL
Though the rule was implemented in 2013, airlines had until this month to fully comply. Many, like Delta, were in compliance early, but until now it was hard to know which had fully complied. A quick peek at United’s website in April showed “while we scan bags at most airports and points in the journey, your bag may not be scanned absolutely everywhere.” For the record, United loses my bags—a lot.
TIPS FOR THE SMART TRAVELER
1 Your bags are most at risk on connecting flights, especially if it’s a tight connection. Always bring a carry-on with enough clothing to get you through a day or two. (The technology can tell you that your bag was left at a connecting airport, but it can’t help when you have no swimsuit for the beach on arrival.)
2 Put your name and phone number on the outside and inside of your bags. Even better, put a copy of your itinerary in each checked bag so the airline can locate you.
3 Download the airline’s app even if it’s not your favored carrier. When I fly Delta, the app alerts me every time my bag moves.
4 If you like to skid into the airport moments before you board the plane, don’t expect that your bag will always make it. Late check-ins are the culprit behind many delayed bags.
5 Pack all valuables in your carry-on bags. Cameras, computers, medication, wallets, jewelry, passports and essential travel documents should never be in your checked baggage. Many of these items are excluded from coverage by the airline if your bag is lost forever.
6 Make sure the person who checks your baggage attaches the correct destination ticket; get a claim ticket. I’ve personally caught this mistake a few times.
7 For the truly paranoid, consider a luggage- tracking device. I swear by the Trakdot. It will tell you where your luggage is in real time.
THE GOOD NEWS
Only six bags out of every 1,000 were lost or delayed in 2016 (a significant drop over previous years).