Travelling with hold luggage is avoided by many as it can come with its own set of expenses or even slow down the travel process. However, for many, particularly long-haul travellers, flying with bags is simply a necessity.
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Though check-in costs and weight restrictions are one set of problems, it is the concept of losing bags altogether that can feel like a nightmare scenario for many travellers.
While there are plenty of protocols in place, including an increase in technology in recent years, the latest baggage mishandling report from SITA reveals 24.8 million bags were lost or delayed in 2018 alone.
However, one luggage expert has revealed why he thinks bags go missing, and it could actually be the fault of the passenger themselves, rather than the staff.
Myles Quee, travel expert for Send My Bag spoke to Express.co.uk, explaining that punctuality is the key.
He said: “Travellers who check in late are more likely to become separated from their case as baggage handlers need time to process luggage.
“If you’re wondering about what time to leave for your flight, remember that the later you arrive, the higher the chances are that you’ll lose your luggage.”
Indeed, most airlines encourage travellers to arrive at least three hours early to an international flight and two hours for a domestic flight.
A little extra time is encouraged for those who need to check in bags.
“There are plenty of reasons why passengers are told to arrive several hours before departure, with baggage being the main one,” says Mr Quee.
“It takes time for handlers to transport all the bags from the drop off to the plane.
“Customers who leave everything to the last minute might avoid the long security lines but may find themselves luggage-less when they land.”
This rule of thumb should also be applied to journeys with multiple flights and layovers.
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If a layover is too tight, it may mean your bag doesn’t make it to the next plane even if you do.
Mr Quee says: “Avoid short layovers – if you’re tight for time, the baggage handlers will be too. Try and leave at least two hours between flights to allow for delays and give handlers sufficient time to move your luggage.”
However, it seems even travellers who turn up with plenty of time to spare can fall victim to a case of a missing suitcase.
Another reason Mr Quee says bags go missing is due to incorrect tagging, something that has been echoed by baggage handlers and other industry experts.
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Mr Quee explains: “Another common reason why luggage goes missing is when the routing label gets damaged.
“If this happens and you haven’t attached a contact card in a luggage tag, your suitcase will likely be lost.”
On a Reddit post, another baggage expert explained: “Not a secret, just common sense; the reason some bags miss their flight or get misrouted is because passengers don’t remove old tags.
“It confuses handlers as well as the conveyor belt scanners. I see it happen all the time.”
Bag tags are used by airlines to ensure luggage is routes to the correct flight and destination.
They are usually printed with a barcode and matching stub which is given to the passenger.
However, if old tags are left on the bags this can confuse the technology in place which automatically sends the bag in the direction it thinks it needs to go.
Though baggage handlers do work hard to double-check every tag is correct, in a fast-paced environment, things can easily slip through the cracks.
Mr Quee advises: “To avoid this, put contact information inside your travel itinerary so that airline staff can contact you easily and reunite you with your belongings.”
He adds: “Put your travel itinerary inside your bag along with contact information. Luggage tags can become easily detached in transit, so you need to give airlines an alternative way to contact you if your suitcase becomes lost.”
Luckily, there are alternatives to checking in luggage – particularly if you intend on travelling with a lot of bags.
“Ship your luggage instead of checking it in at the airport,” advises Mr Quee.
“You’ll be able to race through check-in, track your goods throughout transit and not spend the entire journey fretting about whether your luggage made it onto the plane.”
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your bag does go missing, do not fret.
Julian Kearney, CEO of travel insurance company Staysure spoke to Express.co.uk, offering advice on what to do if passengers find themselves in this situation.
He explained that the best things to do is “keep hold of any airline or any other ticket that confirms your travel arrangements”.
He added: “In most instances, luggage is reported missing whilst under the supervision of airlines and there is nothing that travellers can do to prevent their luggage going missing whilst in their care.
“In the unfortunate event of this happening, Staysure customers are advised to notify their airline straight away and register the loss by completing any necessary paperwork.
“This will be required in support of any claim made under their Staysure Travel Insurance Policy.”
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