8 Things You Can Do To Prevent Your Luggage From Getting Lost Forever

Expected read time: 5 min

You can always change hotels, go to a different beach, even change flights, but when your bag gets lost, all you can do is buy a toothbrush and a change of underwear and hope your luggage is found soon.

How likely is it for my luggage to get lost?

When you combine all airline traffic with the number of lost bags, there is less than a 1% chance your luggage will get misplaced or lost.

Mishandled luggage sita report 1 Mishandled luggage sita report 1

Source: SITA Baggage IT Insights 2022

International flights with more than one flight have a higher chance of lost luggage, but even if you’re part of the unlucky 1%, you still shouldn’t worry, the chances of finding your lost luggage are still very high.

Mishandled luggage sita report 2 Mishandled luggage sita report 2

Source: SITA Baggage IT Insights 2022

According to research made by the Association of European Airlines around 85% of lost luggage is found and delivered within the first 36 hours.

Only 7% of all luggage that is reported as lost is never found or returned.

While you can’t help airline employees search for your bags, there are a few ways to prevent lost luggage or speed up the process of it being returned:

1. Remove old airline tags and stickers

This one’s easy. Your bags get scanned multiple times during your journey and you don’t want to confuse baggage scanners with outdated information from your previous flights.

Remove the tags from the handles and check the sides for those small barcode stickers too.

2. Pack essentials in your carry-on

This one’s not here to help you recover your lost luggage faster, it’s here to help you get through the first 48 hours if your check-in luggage gets lost.

Chipolo 8 things you can do to prevent your luggage from getting lost forever Chipolo 8 things you can do to prevent your luggage from getting lost forever

Anything you’ll need in the next 48 hours goes in your carry-on. Here's a list of all the basics you'll need:

  • Wallet and IDs
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Medication
  • Phone charger or a power bank
  • A fresh t-shirt
  • Pair of socks
  • Change of underwear

3. Get a distinct luggage tag

Something with a sturdy loop that can take some rough handling is best.

Luggage is moved fast and efficiently around airports and gentleness is not part of the process. Choose a material that can bend a little, like rubber or leather, and has some water resistance, in case it rains when you travel. Something with a transparent window is best, so the information is easily visible in case it's needed.

A colorful luggage tag with a strap made of rubber will give it that little extra visibility and flexibility it needs. The contact information you put in is up to you, but it's best to avoid home addresses and last names. Stick to basics like your name, phone number or email address since people can reach you on those during your vacation too.

Luggage tag Luggage tag

A bright tag with a distinct design will also set your luggage apart from all the others on the baggage carousel. With a plane full of people, a pop of color will help other travelers know your black suitcase is not their black suitcase, so there's no chance someone takes your luggage by mistake.

4. Keep your info inside your luggage too!

Even the best luggage tag can get torn off during baggage handling, so put a piece of paper with your contact information in your luggage as well.

Place it on top of your belongings and include your travel itinerary as well. Airline employees sometimes open luggage they can’t identify, and a sheet with your travel plans will make it easier for them to return your luggage.

5. Get a smart luggage tag

If your luggage ever does get mishandled or lost, a smart tracker in your suitcase can help you find its new location.

Bluetooth trackers have a limited range, so they can only help you find your lost luggage if they’re supported by a feature that offers reliable community find, like the Apple Find My network.

Unfortunately, that means that only iPhone users get the benefit of tracking their luggage with a Bluetooth finder. Android users will either need a GPS tracker or will have to accept the limitations that Android-compatible Bluetooth finders have.

Chipolo 8 things you can do to prevent your luggage from getting lost forever 2 Chipolo 8 things you can do to prevent your luggage from getting lost forever 2

Chipolo ONE Spot luggage tracker

For iPhone users, there is a handful of options that work with the Find My app, like the AirTag and the Chipolo Spot finders. You’ll be able to use the Notify When Found feature with either and ask millions of iPhone users to anonymously help you locate your mishandled luggage.

If you’re just looking for a little peace of mind, all Bluetooth luggage tags (Android & iOS alike) are a great way to check that your luggage is on the plane before take-off. Just open the accompanying app on your phone and check if your luggage tracker is connected or nearby.

6. Remove loose straps from your bags

Remove any straps, loops, and hooks. The only bits hanging out should be the ones you need to carry your luggage. This will prevent your bag from getting hooked on anything during its transit through the airport baggage handling system.

7. Take a photo of your luggage

It won’t stop your luggage from getting lost, but it will make it easier to identify if it does.

Make sure to highlight any distinct features on your suitcase in the photo, so that the lost & found office can identify it more easily. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of your baggage-claim ticket in case you misplace or lose it.

Luggage 2384860 1280 Luggage 2384860 1280

8. Check-in early

If you’re late to the airport, the airline will have to hurry when processing your luggage.

Mistakes can happen and they could accidentally send your luggage to the wrong location or there simply might not be enough time left to get your luggage onboard.

What do I do if my luggage gets lost?

If your luggage isn’t on the baggage carousel when you land, go to your airline’s counter immediately and report your luggage lost. Have your baggage claim ticket (or a photo of it) ready to help speed up the process. The employee there should be able to start the search or at least point you in the right direction.

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