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You know how it goes: You plan a trip and when the time comes, you carefully pack your bags with everything you think you’ll need. The last thing you need is for the airline to lose your bag. But there are some things you can do to prevent an airline from losing your bag for good and more importantly, to prevent getting robbed or stalked. RELATED: Stop Overpacking: 10 Things You Don’t Need to Pack

1. Travel with carry-on only
This might go without saying but first of all, travel with carry-on only. I do, except when I’m with my little kids who can’t manage their own bags yet or if I’m going to a cold-weather destination for more than a week.

2. Fly nonstop
Another tip to prevent an airline from losing your bag is to fly nonstop. The more connections your flight has, the more chances there are for your bag to get lost along the way. Of course, you can ship your luggage in advance if you’re traveling domestically but most people don’t want to deal with that.

3. Travel with a unique bag
Don’t travel with a black bag like everyone else unless you put identifiable stickers that won’t fall off on it. Strings and yarn can easily get pulled off. It’s best to have luggage that’s unique and bright. RELATED: My wife designed her own unique suitcase with ROAM luggage (see photo below), which she loved. Read her review here and use this link to get $50 off your purchase.

4. Take a photo
Always take a photo of your bag so you can show the lost and found agent on the other end exactly what it looks like, in case it does get lost.

5. Double check that the flight number and airport code are correct
I always check that the agent puts the right flight number and three-letter airport code I’m flying to on my baggage tag. I’ve seen them accidentally take the wrong tag from the customer in line next to me.

6. Use a tracking device
Products like the Apple AirTag will help you track down your bag using an app on your phone. Having your own tracking device in your luggage can give you some much-needed peace of mind. My wife and I never travel without ours.

7. Make sure your contact information is accessible
The most important thing to do is have your name, cell phone and email address on the bag tag, and not just on the outside of your suitcase but on the inside as well, since the outer one can easily get lost or pulled off. Even better, tape a piece of paper with your contact information on the inside of your luggage so that when it’s opened, it’s the first thing they’ll see.

BUT: Don’t ever put your home address on your bag tag or inside your luggage since it lets strangers know where you live and that you’re not home. I’ve heard plenty of stories where burglars hang out at airport restaurants, gates or on the tram just to get visible addresses. They know you’re not home and listen to your conversations, too, so they know where you’re going and for how long.

8. Use a luggage tag with a privacy flap
After reading this news story, you will learn yet another new tip. In short, a passenger was stalked by an American Airlines employee because she had her name, phone number and address written on a tag that wasn’t covered. Always have your outside bag tag covered by using a luggage tag with a privacy flap so that it hides your personal information. Don’t leave it out in the open.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had plenty of experiences with lost baggage and I don’t check bags often. Fortunately, airlines are getting better, thanks to technology but there are some simple steps you can take to make sure an airline doesn’t lose your bag, or that you don’t get robbed or stalked.

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22 Comments On "8 Ways To Make Sure An Airline Doesn’t Lose Your Bag"
  1. Sandra|

    I put a copy of my boarding pass inside any checked luggage. Just another way to match you up with your lost or delayed luggage. But I like the first suggestion best—just take carry on. It’s easier than you might think using packing cubes etc. Also having only a carry on lets you change flights without much hassle.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great tip!

    2. Johnny Jet|


  2. Ross copas|

    Just a US operation. Not much use if you are travelling outside the US.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      True and I think that’s the case for all luggage delivery companies because of customs

  3. Deborah|

    Great suggestions. Also if you have a connecting flight and you need to check a bag, try not to have a short connection time between flights. If the first flight is delayed, you might make the second flight but your bag might not.

  4. Jo Anne VG|

    I’ve had bags not make it to my destination but the worst was a numbers of years ago when you could check your bags in at the curb. I forgot to ‘tip’ the skycap at LAX. My bag was delayed to my destination by 2 days w/an explanation that it was sent “to another airport” by mistake.

  5. Hawaii couple|

    Thank you Johnny and friends for all the great tips! I had “business” cards made up with our names, email and cell only with a Hawaiian sunrise to give to new friends when traveling and to put in your luggage and luggage tag. To protect your luggage in the rain, carry a couple of plastic garbage bags to slip over your carry-on if you are traveling in the rainy season, Good to cover you too in a surprise shower!

    1. Johnny Jet|


  6. Dale|

    I use coloured duct tape to spell out my first and last initial on the top of my bag. I also take pictures of the bag, each side and the top.

  7. Larry|

    Note that the bags can make a short connection much easier than you can (regarding Deborah’s comment).

  8. Susan Van Allen|

    When I have a connecting flight, it may seem obnoxious, but I tape big labels on all sides of my luggage with the name of the final destination. It seems to help the handlers–my luggage has ALWAYS arrived.

  9. Michael Reynolds|

    Never completely trust the cruise lines’ EZcheck system. Third party contractors are involved. On a cruise line don’t put your bag out early in the hall the night before disembarkation. It’s an invitation for theft. Ditto for motor coach hosted trips for bags out in the morning. Consider putting a less expensive TILE tracker inside your bag, Be watchful in the cruise line baggage claim room. Many bags look alike and your bag could easily find a way to disappear accidentally or on purpose.

  10. Marie|

    Several years ago, I missed my connecting flight from SFO to Haneda, Japan, from ORD (due to a late pilot error).
    I want to second that hint about taking a photo of your luggage – I had done so and was able to provide to the agent who was very supportive in getting my checked bag into a secure area and when the time came for the next flight, it was already on the plane.
    I want to add that when I’m traveling internationally and now nationally, while I do use packing cubes, I also take photos of the layers of the cubes inside the case. I then have an 8×11 paper in a plastic sleeve that I insert onto the top of the layers saying that all of the contents of the case have been photographed and documented.
    I love reading all you articles and have several to be helpful and informative. Thanks for all the postings!

  11. Meg|

    AA lost our bag on a direct flight from SLC to DFW. We had baggage tags as well as our info inside the bag. We had tons of brightly colored tulle on the handle, and a picture of the bag.
    They never found our bag!
    We didn’t have Tile trackers yet then (4-6 yrs ago) but we have them now!

  12. John L Helms|

    This may be seen as a security risk, but I put the name and address of my hotel.
    This way they can get your lost bag to you more quickly.

  13. Jo|

    A few days ago I actually called my travel insurance about the fact that my address appears on the ID card. I asked why? (I crossed it out with a magic marker).I do have a PO box and if necessary when address is required, I put that down. Yes my luggage tags do have a flap, but you can also just insert it with the info facing the inside.

  14. Becky|

    Do you have any thoughts on personalized luggage straps (last name only) in addition to the other security measures you recommend? I’ve used them in years past and they always survived the flights.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I haven’t tried them but it sounds like a good method

  15. Carol Wolters|

    I have an “itinerary” luggage tag, to use an insert showing what different hotels & dates. I would also add airline flights. If my luggage was misplaced, someone could check the tag, which has foreign language instructions to do so, and find the next destination. We have a European cruise scheduled, and I will use that for ALL luggage. It will show my home airport, but not home address, just cell phone. You could put this info into a plastic sleeve in each suitcase also, so it could be found when TSA or someone unlocks the suitcase.

  16. Carol Wolters|

    I use gold metallic fabric paint to add 5-pointed stars to all of our black fabric luggage items. Top, sides, front & back. Take photos, since our brands vary, but 3 gold large stars is pretty easy to identify! You could use squares or circles. I did not use hearts, in case my husband needed a suitcase for a business trip. Some women painted lovely designs and flowers onto their suitcases. With a 5 week car trip, I put red duct tape strips onto the bottoms of suitcases 1-2-3, then again on top near handle. #3 was for a specific week of the trip with specialized clothing, I did not want that opened until we arrived for that event. I also keep 2 cosmetics bags, one for traveling to stay in a “Home”, then add 2nd one for a “Hotel.” Staying in a Home, you can expect household supplies like aspirin & band-aids, which are not automatically available in a Hotel.

  17. David|

    Buying a uniquely colored bag is a simple, but useful idea. We never buy black bags anymore and also use a bright luggage strap. Having an easily identifiable bag helps when trying to quickly spot your bag, and should someone need to find your bag on your behalf.

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