It's 9 a.m. in Denver and Eileen Druggan is beginning her Thanksgiving journey at the airport, getting ready for a flight to Dallas.
Her bag is one of 49,000 that go on the Frontier Airlinesluggage belts each day — down the conveyer belt, through the TSA luggage screener, deeper into the bowels of the airport, onto a luggage cart and into the belly of a 737.
"I lost one many years ago when I was going to Eugene, Oregon, and that bag went to Hawaii," says Druggan.
Frontier Airlines actually has one of the industry's best records for getting luggage to its final destinations.
But since the TSA announced strict carry-on rules in August, checked luggage at all airlines has surged 20 percent. And that's led to more reportsof delayed, damaged or pilfered luggage — nearly 383,000 complaints in September alone — up 90 percent in one year.
The biggest offenders are the commuter airlines: Delta Connection, Comair, American Eagle and United Express.
So what's the prediction for Thanksgivingtravel?
"Not enough baggage handlers, a lot of baggage going through the system and a lot of infrequent travelers," says Amy Ziff, editor at large with Travelocity. "All of which just kind of makes a recipe for the perfect storm, if you will, in baggage."
The advice from the experts:
- Leave an ID card outside and inside your bag;
- Use your cell phone to take a picture of your bag to show the airline should they lose it;
- And double check the ticket agent's work.
"[Check] that the tag itself on the bag has the appropriate destination," recommends Joe Hodas with Frontier Airlines. "That will go a long way towards helping make sure the bag gets there."
Sure enough, Eileen Druggan's bag made it from Denver to Dallas.
"I usually get to the airport early and hope it gets on, and pray a lot," laughs Druggan.
But most people don't have a news crew tracking their bag every step of the way.