One of the unpleasant facts of life when traveling by air, is that sometimes airlines lose or damage baggage. Although the overall percentage of lost baggage is going down, airlines can’t take all the credit. Changing passenger behavior has played a key role: as airlines have zealously adopted baggage fees, there’s been a dramatic drop in the number of checked bags.
Punishment has also helped. “Airlines face potentially greater liability for lost baggage today than in years past, giving them greater incentive to prevent baggage problems,” says Mosley. Since 2009, the DOT has increased baggage liability limits to match rising consumer prices; the domestic limit is now $3,300 per passenger.
Compensation is surely on the minds of those who still have the unpleasant surprise of arriving without their luggage. To avoid that fate, Sarah Schlichter, editor of IndependentTraveler.com, has these tips:
1. Whenever possible carry on your baggage and don’t check it.
2. If you can choose a non-stop flight, rather than one that requires changing planes, that’s a plus.
3. Arrive at the airport early. Baggage handlers will not be rushed and are less likely to make a routing mistake.
4. Always display your contact information on your luggage.
5. Purchase a permanent baggage tag rather than using the paper ones provided at the ticket counter.
6. Put a copy of your travel itinerary inside your baggage. Should it be lost, the airfare will know where to send it.
7. Invest in high-tech luggage tags with radio frequency microchips, such as the SuperSmart Tag and Rebound TAG. While both devices make it easier for an airline or airport worker to match a bag with its owner, they rely on the bag actually being found and reported.