This story is a follow-up to a tip I wrote, titled: Brilliant: How a Simple Picture Can Prevent Headaches and Hassles if an Airline Loses Your Bag.

The Cliff Notes version of the tip is that a luggage expert told me if you take a photo of your luggage tag and the airline misplaces it, it will help tremendously in the search for your bag. Especially, if you hire a service like Blue Ribbon Bags, which is basically $5 insurance that will assign an agent to find your bag at airports all over the world. If they can’t find it, you could get $1,000. Here’s more on their service.

One of my readers, Mike, from Tulsa, sent me an email with two photos, saying: “This morning given to SW in San Diego. This afternoon back from SW in Tulsa.” The before and after photos are below:

Southwest Airlines obviously damaged his bag so I replied to him, saying, “I hope you filed a complaint before leaving the airport.”

Mike said, “I did immediately file an onsite complaint. The unsmiling SW baggage lady gave us a choice after we showed her same day before and after bag photographs (thanks for your tip). Choice one – Go on their baggage web site and order a replacement bag. Choice two – Take a $150 SW travel voucher good for one year and if we lose the voucher it will NOT be replaced. We took the voucher.”

I think that’s a fair offer but it just shows the importance of taking photos. My wife has had her bag damaged a couple of times and we’ve learned to always file a report before leaving the airport because airlines are generally good about replacing or compensating you either with cash, a travel credit or bonus miles.

RELATED: Why Frequent Fliers Use Apple AirTags or Samsung SmartTags When They Travel

Obviously, the best way to travel is with carry-on only but if you have to check a bag, be sure to take a few seconds to take some photos. In addition to your baggage tag and the exterior of your suitcase, take a photo of the contents inside so you know what you packed for personal reasons and if you ever need to file a ticket.

You won’t regret it. If you’ve ever had an airline damage your bag, please share in the comments below what they did to help.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Make Sure An Airline Doesn’t Lose Your Bag … And That You Don’t Get Robbed or Stalked

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6 Comments On "Traveler's Tip: The Surprising Reason You Need to Snap a Pic of Your Checked Bags"
  1. Buzzy Gordon|

    Nowadays I always travel with carry-on luggage only, but you never know when the airline is going to take your bag at the gate and check it. Whether you take a photo or not, it’s always good to strap or tie on some conspicuously contrasting colored band or pompom so your bag stands out from all the rest.

  2. Kim dHF|

    Thanks to everyone for sharing. I was taking a weekend trip. My first trip anywhere since before Covid. I had to buy a new carry on and personal item bag. I bought Pink especially so it was unique and it was on sale. I learned a long time ago no black, navy or grey. Tying something bright to the handle sounds great. But mine was lost easily. Use a zip tie. Also for your info tag. A new small travel purse gave me a lot of safety. RFID, Safety strap that couldn’t be cut, fabric for main purse reinforced against slashing. This I did buy in navy so it was less noticeable. Can’t wait for another trip via the skies!

  3. M Beales|

    The biggest mistake made by people using public transportation, i.e. Planes and trains, is using their home address on their luggage ID tags, rather than using the address of their destination. If a bag is lost and later found, there’s a good chance it will be returned to the address on the luggage tag. Of course, it doesn’t mean you will get it any faster if it missed your flight to Puerto Vallarta and was send to Denver as happened to us. The bag showed up four days later at our Puerto Vallarta Hotel.

  4. Charlie|

    Years ago (late 1990s), a “big three US line” ripped the zipper out of my rolling backpack. They gave me a “repair voucher” that I could take to an off-site shop they contracted with to repair bags. The shop was open weird hours so I had to spend a Saturday driving back to the airport area (2 – 2.5 hour RT), presenting the voucher and bag to the shop, where I was told they couldn’t (wouldn’t, more likely) fix it for the $25 contract price they had with the airline.

    Luckily for me, it was a High Sierra bag and they honored the lifetime warranty on it by replacing it with a newer version. I actually like the one they replaced it with better than the one that &*&*&*&* savaged because it’s a few inches bigger so I can haul more stuff to my friends in Europe. So, it worked out well, no thanks at all to the airline.

  5. AC|

    Bags are made to be damaged. They protect what is inside. The Karens that whine about their bag being damaged and expect airlines to compensate them make me sick. Just buy another bag. SMDH

  6. cs|

    flew to Europe last Fall…three week trek…lots of pre-paid advance work… between two canceled flights … two airlines and total incompetence… two checked bags were LOST for SEVEN days….first third of our trip. Apple Air Tags were the saving grace. We always knew where the bags were thankfully though we doubted we would ever see them again…having been re-routed through Amsterdam due to the flight cancellations. Amsterdam airport is where baggage goes to die. if you’ve ever see that baggage claim area…a frigg’n mess…bags everywhere…you know what I’m talking about. Air Tags…when in Portugal finally saw they were outta Amsterdam and delivered to the wrong hotel in Lisbon. just a classic farce. I caugth an Uber out to that location and retrieved the bags. no thanks to the airlines involved. zero communication.

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