The vast majority of checked luggage arrives on time and intact, but things can still go wrong. These tips will help assure that you and your bags vacation together.
Before you go
- Photograph the contents of luggage you intend to check, and keep an itemized list of valuable items in a safe place, with sales receipts if possible.
- Place an itinerary with your contact information and e-mail address in a visible place inside the bag.
- Make sure you’ve got a “clean” bag — remove tags from previous trips, especially those small white bag-check stickers airlines affix to the sides. Avoid travel stickers or decals: They may make your bag stand out, but they could be misread by a scanner.
- Take off any straps and lock wheels that can cause a bag to shift or get stuck on a conveyor belt.
- Avoid checking very expensive-looking bags; cloth bags are less appealing to thieves than leather luggage.
- Never pack anything valuable or that you can’t afford to do without, especially a laptop or other electronics, medication, jewelry or important documents. Replacing these items is inconvenient, to say the least, and airlines deny any liability. If in doubt, check airlines’ policies on their Web sites.
- Put the address of your destination — not your home address — on the outside of the bag. Your home address could announce that there is a house available to be burgled. The address on your bag should be where you will next be spending a night.
- Consider a TSA-approved lock, but keep in mind that it offers limited protection since it can easily be removed.
- To protect checked bags from dings and theft, consider using one of the luggage-wrapping services found at many airports. For about $10 per bag, machines will enshroud your suitcase in a layer of plastic resembling a tough Saran Wrap. If the TSA opens your bag, it’s rewrapped for free.
- Open your luggage shortly after you land to see if everything is there. If something has been pilfered, submit a claim with the airline and your insurer as soon as possible.
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