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Lost Luggage: Latest Tech and Trusted Suggestions


Jammed airports and planes this summer will inevitably mean more checked suitcases, duffels and backpacks that don’t show up at baggage claim.

Tight — some would even say unrealistic — flight schedules and continuing staffing shortages put pressure on luggage management systems, said Jamie Larounis, a travel industry analyst at Upgraded Points. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to get luggage across a big airport and onto departing aircraft. “The slightest delay of a plane coming in can domino to the following because bags can’t get from one to the opposite,” Mr. Larounis said.

Airlines and airports are developing latest technology to assist those systems shepherd your bag through the conveyor belt maze quicker and more efficiently.

SITA, an air travel technology company whose WorldTracer system is in use at 2,200 airports globally, is teaming up on latest initiatives. For instance, it recently tested a system with Lufthansa to routinely reroute luggage that missed its flight onto the following available flight and let passengers know the brand new arrival time. That notification saves passengers from having to go speak to someone within the arrivals hall.

A system made by Siemens can read crumpled or partly obscured paper tags. It’s getting used at several airports in the USA and internationally.

BAGTAG, a Dutch company that makes electronic luggage tags, is working with carriers like Alaska Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss to phase out paper tags in favor of e-tags, which could help reduce mishandled luggage because they’re product of durable plastic and are less more likely to be mangled or torn off.

Alaska Airlines is introducing electronic tags to a gaggle of two,500 fliers now and plans to make them available on the market this fall.

The excellent news is sort of everyone seems to be eventually reunited with checked luggage. Last 12 months, the overwhelming majority made it back to their owners and not using a hitch. Out of the 470 million total bags checked on U.S. carriers in 2022, about six out of each 1,000 were mishandled (lost, damaged, delayed or stolen), in keeping with the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And only a tiny fraction of baggage isn’t reunited with its owner, in keeping with SITA — about one in 2,250 bags.

So what are you able to do to go away the bags carousel with a smile in your face this summer?

Arrive early so your checked bag has loads of time to make it to the plane. Fly nonstop when possible, because every transfer increases the possibility of a mishap. In case you do need to alter planes, don’t book a good connection. And make sure that any previous bag tags and stickers are taken off.

Rigorously select the kind of bag you check (if possible, avoid the ever-present little black rolling bag, which may easily get mixed up at baggage claim) and festoon it with ribbons, stickers or other flair to make it easy to discover. Pay close attention on the check-in counter: Be sure the tag the agent attaches to your bag has the proper airport code. Never check medication, jewelry, or other essentials or valuables.

Benefit from your airline’s smartphone app, which can offer luggage tracking capabilities. You can even place an Apple AirTag and a card together with your contact information contained in the bag to assist trace it within the event it gets lost.

But say the worst happens and your baggage doesn’t arrive as expected: Be sure you fill out the claim form before you permit the airport. The Department of Transportation website lists the rules that airlines must follow when baggage is delayed or goes missing, capping compensation at $3,800 per bag. Each airline has its own specific policies and procedures. Check their web sites.

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