(CNN) – It’s enough to give anyone already nervous about chaos in the skies another reason to whip out an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost or damaged luggage.
The concern is valid.
Checking in checked bags can almost seem like a leap of faith these days.
How bad is the problem?
In May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 scheduled bags were mishandled. This figure increased to 0.56 per 100 scheduled bags in May 2022.
However, it gets more than 99 out of 100 bags to where they need to go without incident.
Uncollected suitcases are collected at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 baggage claim on July 8, 2022. Scenes like this have people wondering how to avoid such a mess.
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Scott Keyes, founder of Flight Deals and tRavel advice site Scott’s Cheap Flights said it is encouraging people not to let news of the baggage issues put a stop to their flights and holidays.
“Every bag that gets lost is a huge disruption to the people whose bag it is — and I certainly don’t want to minimize that — but I want people to have the proper perspective that in the vast majority of cases, your flight will fly and your checked bag will arrive,” he told CNN Travel.
Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, sees better days ahead.
“As staffing improves, more pilots are trained and flight frequency increases, we will see this problem begin to disappear,” she said in an email to CNN Travel.
Meanwhile, you are not completely helpless. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost and delayed luggage.
Before going to the airport
Book non-stop flights: If you’re really worried about your checked baggage, prioritize nonstop flights or at least departures with plenty of time, Keyes said.
“Bags are very likely to get lost in that transfer between connecting planes, especially if there’s a tight connection.” And he said that goes double for connecting international flights.
Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than discount airlines, which tend to have more nonstop flights that have a lower likelihood of losing a bag in transit.
Legacy airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn’t make a booking decision based on that alone, but it’s “an interesting side factor to consider.”
Suitcases roll onto a Sundair A320 aircraft at Dresden International Airport in Germany. Take a photo of your luggage. It might come in handy later.
Robert Michael/Photo Alliance/Getty Images
Take pictures 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 her clients to “take a picture of their bag because the first thing travel agencies airlines will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag.”
She also said people should lay out what they’re planning to pack in the bed and take a photo as well. If the bag is lost, this helps create a record of the contents.
Use baggage tracking: “Many airlines allow you to see the status of your luggage on their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your luggage is on the flight with you – or at least give you information on where your luggage is if it’s delayed .” Scott’s Cheap Flights said in an emailed news release.
“I had a bag taken from the carousel at the airport in Salt Lake [City]. “Luckily, I knew the people who took my bag, so it was easy to exchange it,” she said. “But then again, what if I didn’t know those people? What if they were complete strangers and took my bag home? I hope they are good, honest people and see that I have a name and phone number in the bag so they can call me and let me know the mistake.”
Samantha Brown has criss-crossed the globe as a television travel presenter for 20 years. She often only takes one bag with her and offers her top tips for packing your luggage. First tip: go with a strong suitcase
Luggage power: Airlines can’t lose luggage you never check. Twidale suggests packing as light as possible and only using carry-on luggage. You will save time getting out of the airport and have more peace of mind.
Review your credit card coverage: Before buying additional travel insurance, Keyes suggested checking your credit card’s travel protection policy.
You can get additional compensation (for what the airlines don’t cover) not only for lost luggage, but also for refunds for things you might need to buy while you’re waiting for your bag.
At the airport before you fly
Check your bags at the right time: Travelers United says checking bags at the last minute can lead to a greater chance of trouble.
“Don’t rush the system. The slightest delay can have serious consequences when your bag is going through the conveyor belt and being sorted for security screening with little time to spare,” its website says.
Get your phone camera working again: Keyes suggested that just before you hand in your checked bags, open them and take a picture.
“If your bag gets lost and you have any valuables in there … having a picture of what was in there will really strengthen your case to get compensation after the fact.”
If your luggage is delayed
Report your problem and fill out the forms at the airport: If your luggage has not shown up, notify the airline.
“Many times, airline personnel will explain that the bag has been found, but it will be 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 bags: Keyes said that if an airline can find your bags, but it will be several hours before they arrive, make sure the representatives have the address where you will be and use the airline’s delivery service.
Keep receipts: “If you buy something to get you through your days without your luggage—from a new swimsuit to toothpaste—keep receipts. You may need these to get reimbursed,” advises Scott’s Cheap Flights.
If your luggage is lost
Suitcases can really pile up at a baggage claim area like this one in Hamburg, Germany. If your luggage is lost, you can get compensation.
“They have a special aviation enforcement office where they are much more proactive about protecting consumers and trying to clamp down on airlines when they don’t provide customers with the kind of compensation or refund that they’re required to do. according to federal laws”.
Limits of liability: There is fine print, exclusions and paperwork/documentation hurdles, but eventually you can get money for your lost bags.
They are responsible for damage to wheels, handles and belts.