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About a decade or two ago, airlines had a representative stationed by the exit at baggage claim and wouldn’t let you leave unless you had the matching end of a baggage tag or you showed that your ID had the same name that was printed on the baggage tag. It was another reason not to check a bag since sometimes the line to leave would be long. When the airlines started cutting costs, that extra layer of security was one of the first things to go. RELATED: 8 Ways To Make Sure An Airline Doesn’t Lose Your Bag

American Airlines loses passenger's luggage and it ended up at a homeless encampment in LA.
Now that there’s no one overseeing the bags at baggage claim, I make sure to be there when the bags start coming out because anyone can just grab any bag. I’ve often thought about the fact that if someone is homeless, one of the first places they might go is an airport baggage claim to get some clothes and who knows what other kinds of goodies.

This is why I always advise my readers (you can sign up to my free newsletter here) to never put anything of value in your checked luggage. Always carry on your valuables, medicine and a change of clothes in case the airline loses your bag. I also have Apple AirTags in every bag so I know exactly where my suitcases are, which is key for not having to rush to baggage claim and for finding your luggage if it gets lost.

This is exactly what happened to Aunny Grace. According to our local ABC News affiliate, KABC, American Airlines lost Grace’s bag when she flew to Hollywood Burbank Airport. Grace said she “had placed an Apple AirTag in her bag that allowed her to track it.” She said, “it went to Denver, then Denver back to Dallas, and then eventually, five days later, it made its way back to Burbank.”

Grace said someone (I’m assuming from American Airlines) notified her saying her bag was delivered to her home. However, she “took a look at the AirTag and it said it was in Hollywood. My intuition told me something was wrong when I saw my bag slowly moving down Western Avenue.”

The AirTag ended up near the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Western Avenue at a homeless encampment. Grace’s luggage was open and everything inside was gone.

Grace told KABC, “I was mortified. I was shocked … complete disbelief. I was in such shock that I wasn’t even aware of my surroundings. Where is my stuff? Where do I even look?” She added, “I just started grabbing my stuff, crying, vendors are on the street looking at me, crying like grabbing my stuff out of this cart.”

The worst part is that the homeless person claimed he had bought the bag. Grace’s friend paid him so she could get her belongings back.

Grace also said there were several other bags there, which isn’t surprising, but begs the question: How many other bags has this happened to? It’s not clear if the bag was stolen from her doorstep or from baggage claim but either way she’s lucky she was able to track it thanks to the AirTag. However, unless there’s something really sentimental or valuable in your bag, I don’t recommend trying to recover it yourself. Once you find it, call the police and get their assistance.

American Airlines said in a statement to KABC, “We strive to ensure that our customers’ checked luggage and other items arrive at their destinations on schedule and in their original condition. We are investigating what occurred here and, in the meantime, a member of our team is in contact with the customer to apologize and resolve the issue.”

The whole incident reminds me of this video and others like it I’ve seen all over social media:

@joosesalas Thats why i always got an airtag in mine ??‍♂️ #travelhumor #airportsecurity #travel ♬ original sound – Enzo is Burning

I mean, they’re not wrong. And then there’s this video of a man helping himself to people’s stuff at Miami International Airport:

It’s wild out there, people. Keep your stuff safe. Travel with carry-on only whenever you can and if you must check a bag, use an Apple AirTag or similar tracking device like the Tile or the Eufy SmartTrack card by Anker, which is a slim design, the size and shape of a credit card.


The Trick For Getting Airport Luggage Carts for Free
Airline Lost Your Luggage? Do This If You Want to Get Compensated
Why Frequent Fliers Use Apple AirTags or Samsung SmartTags When They Travel
An Airline Executive’s Number One Tip for Avoiding Lost Luggage When You Fly

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5 Comments On "American Airlines loses woman's luggage; bag found in Los Angeles homeless encampment"
  1. Earl B.|

    I wonder if this poor woman paid $35 for the “privilege” of checking her bag? That’s the real insult – they charge an outrageous fee for checked bag “service”, then treat your suitcase like a bag of trash.

  2. Marlin|
  3. Jason|

    I’ve been flying for 30 years and have never once been asked to show an ID to leave with a bag from baggage claim?

    I agree this is terrible, but, that level of security isn’t something I’ve run into.

  4. Ross Copas|

    I want to know how homeless people can get into the baggage claim area? As a passenger, I’m herded, guided along to that area. I see no way for someone to come upstream to that area?
    I suspect that someone has taken a wrong suitcase intentionally or unintentionally, skimmed through it to see what they might want and then discarded it outside the airport where it could be found by a homeless person??

  5. claudia|

    if you are “following” your air tag and AirPods inside any ‘thing’ you are on your own claiming and retrieving it successfully. case in point, my aunt had her car broken into at LA cemetery for god’s sake…she has the video footage of the thief breaking her window and climbing into the back of the car into the trunk, and she herself (65 years old) followed the belongings to homeless area on Sepulveda where the thief said the exact same thing when a cop on the street not far from Sepulveda approached…’this is mine, I bought it’ she said so that was that! for 3 days my aunt watched her laptop and other personal property travel all over LA as far as Lancaster and NO ONE would help her get it back!

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