Posted by & filed under Travel Post Monthly.

by Lori Allen

According to the June 2007 Air Travel Consumer Report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, American Airlines subsidiary American Eagle filed an average of 13 mishandled bag reports per 1,000 customers in April 2007.

Delta’s subsidiary, Comair, filed 12 per 1,000, and airlines traveling to Europe ranked even worse. With stats like those, chances are pretty good that your checked luggage will wind up missing.

That said, you can’t always avoid checking your bags.  So, here are a few things you can do to beat the system…

1. Mark your bags with more than just luggage tags.  If your bags don’t show up at baggage claim, you’ll want to be able to say more than “it was a black, zippered bag on wheels.” Luggage tags are hard to read from a distance amongst a sea of other bags so a bright ribbon or a colorful luggage strap will help airline employees identify your bag.

2. Put a copy of your itinerary with your name, phone number, and email address inside your luggage.  This way, the airline can find you even if you change hotels mid-trip.

3. Make a list of what to pack before you pack.  This will not only help you keep your packing lean (you won’t be tempted to pack things not on your list) but when a bag goes missing you’ll also have a list of items in that bag to turn into the counter should you need to make a claim. 

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Pack some essential clothes in your carry-on and then divide the rest of your clothes into your other checked bags.  By putting a couple outfits in each bag, you’ll have something to wear should one bag go missing.  

[Ed. Note: Lori Allen is Director of AWAI’s Travel Division. For more travel tips, sign up for AWAI’s free Travel e-letter, The Right Way to Travel.]