Industry Insiders Reveal The Real Reason Your Baggage Gets Lost


Industry Insiders Reveal The Real Reason Your Baggage Gets Lost

Stylish travel blogger @shaunbirley contemplating life (and luggage).

You carefully pack your suitcase, lug it to the airport and hand over a small fortune for a couple of kilos of excess. You then wave it down the conveyor belt, set off through departures with a smile and… the baggage handlers immediately dispatch it to the wrong side of the globe.

While this is a stereotype, travel often enough and one day it will come true. And while some lost baggage is caused by poor airline organisation (or sheer bad luck), according to industry insiders, there is another reason baggage gets lost – and it could be all your fault.


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The mistake: not removing old luggage tags, which – though unlikely – could see your suitcase sent to the wrong destination. On a post in Reddit entitled, “People who work for airlines, what are secrets passengers don’t know?” an alleged travel expert wrote, “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.”

As reported by travel website ESCAPE, “The bag tags, which are printed with a barcode, are used for identification and tracking and are meant to ensure the bag reaches its intended destination.”

ESCAPE adds that – according to global baggage handling monitor Sita – “24.8 million bags went missing in 2018.” Although that is out of 4.3 billion bags handled globally, if you’d like to avoid ending up in that lost and frustrated minority, there are three actions you can take to reduce the chances (or minimise the damage) of a lost case.


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First: as well as removing old bag tags, take a photo of your bag before checking it in (makes it easier for staff to find it if it gets lost).

Second: put a “fragile” sticker on your suitcase (ensures it’s handled with care and put on top of the pile, so it’s first off the plane and onto the carousel).

Third: never put electronics in your suitcase (as this baggage resolution specialist explains in a separate Reddit thread, “All of the major airlines do not cover electronics on domestic flights. Plus, if you ever saw the ‘kickers’ on the belt system that switches your bag from one belt to the other, you would never check anything but clothes ever again”).

“If a bag is angled right, these kickers can send them 5-6 feet in the air, and backwards, then your bag isn’t found til the next walk through, that can be 4-6 weeks alone.”

And with that, we’re now off to buy some fragile stickers…

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