The plane lands. You zigzag your way out of the jet bridge and walk down seemingly endless long halls and escalators to the baggage claim area. You wait patiently for your bags. 10 minutes pass. 20 minutes pass. If you’re at LAX, 60 min pass (damn you, LAX!). The bags start making their way down the carousel. Your fellow passengers have picked up their bags, and suddenly, the carousel stops. WHERE IS YOUR BAG?! There’s no way it’s lost, right? Ha, WRONG.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty commonplace to arrive at your destination sans your baggage. I once flew down to Puerto Vallarta and realized my bag was in Vancouver for some reason (I think the airline mis-tagged it). There’s also the time I made it to Tallin but the bag didn’t make the connecting flight in Frankfurt so it wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the next day. It sucks to arrive at your destination super excited to get the trip started and then realize you’ll have to wear the same underwear and smelly clothes until your bags arrive – gross!
The best thing to do is to never check any bags. Then you’ll never have to worry about losing your bags. I hate that advice though. I hate it because most people DO check their bags and it’s only the fraction of a fraction of super travelers who have figured out how to travel without ever checking a bag (and usually they are savvy business travelers or people who are tiny and therefore their clothes are tiny, too, and can fit all their stuff in a carry-on…but that is not the majority of travelers).
So, the second best thing?
Make sure to pack one day’s worth of clothes in your carry-on. Generally, when an airline loses your bag, they are able to get it to you the next day (fun fact: 80%-90% of lost bags are returned to their owners within 24 hours). So, if you play the odds, having a day’s worth of clothes to change into is likely all you need. I like to bring extra underwear, a pair of flip flops, an outfit that doesn’t take much room, and my toiletries. And I stuff that in my carry-on bag or an oversized purse. Knowing that I have my essentials with me means it’s not that big of a deal if I end up having to wait a day for my bags to arrive.
Incidentally, airlines will also comp you if they lose your bags or it takes some time before you get them. Every airline has their own rule on this. Some airlines may give you an allowance you can use to purchase essentials right away, but most aren’t so generous unless they’ve lost your items for a few days. Either way, don’t forget to find out what your airline’s specific rules if you’re in this (unfortunate) situation.
Help me keep this series going! If you have any travel tips, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and your tip may end up in a future post!