Easy Ways to Track Your Checked Luggage So It Never Gets Lost Again

August 18, 2015

After a long flight, all you want to do is go to the Baggage Claim carousel, pick up your checked luggage and head off to your vacation destination or home.  You arrive at Baggage Claim and stand patiently at the spot of the carousel where the luggage comes out of the shoot but, for some reason, you have to keep moving aside as other passengers collect their checked bags.  The crowd dwindles until eventually, you’re the only one left standing there.  “Just great!” you think.  “The airline either has lost my checked luggage or it’s been shipped off to Timbuktu!”  Now, what do you do?

Is there something you could have done to prevent this from happening in the first place?  And, if it has happened already, how can you track your checked luggage so you’ll know where it is at any given time and get it returned to you expeditiously?

Ways to Ensure Your Luggage Never Gets Lost Again

Gone with the Wind

Scarlett O’Hara said it best when she declares in Gone With The Wind: “As God is my witness, I’ll never lose my luggage again!” – or words to that effect  Like Scarlett, if you follow these simple tips, lost luggage may become a thing of the past for you, too:

  1. Take off any old tags that may be on your luggage from previous flights.  To avoid confusing the baggage handlers, the current tag is the only one you want on it.
  2. Before your luggage gets put on the conveyor belt to ‘never-never land’, ensure that the luggage tag has your luggage going to the correct destination.  You’ll need to know the airport codes of your destination and any transfer airports to verify this.
  3. Attach your ID information on both the outside and the inside of your luggage.  Use a phone number that you can be reached at while traveling – ie. your cell, the number of the hotel where you’ll be staying, the number of a friend or family member who will be able to reach you.  If your tag is inadvertently torn off the outside of your luggage, having the information on where the bag is headed located at the top of your packed items inside the checked bag, will make it easier for the airline to get it to you.
  4. If two of you are traveling together with two checked luggage pieces, pack some items for each of you in each of the bags rather than putting all of your clothes and other travel gear into one bag for ‘him’ and one bag for ‘her’.  Chances are BOTH bags won’t get lost but, if one does, you’ll both still be covered – literally
  5. Pack additional clothes in your carry-on luggage for each of you – enough to get you through a day or two if necessary.
  6. Take a picture of your luggage – the outside as well as the items packed inside.  If you do need to report your luggage as ‘lost’ to the airline, it will expedite reuniting you with your belongings if the airline knows what it’s looking for.
  7. NEVER pack anything of real value in your checked luggage!  Keep jewelry, medication, electronic devices and other expensive travel gear with you in your carry-on luggage.
  8. Lock up your checked luggage with a Tarriss TSA luggage lock.  While this may not prevent it from getting lost, there’s a far better chance of it remaining intact until it can be returned to you.
  9. Make your checked luggage unique so it ‘stands out from the crowd’.  Buy a colorful piece of luggage or put tons of stickers on an otherwise nondescript piece of black luggage.  Attach colorful ribbons, pompoms or whatever it takes to help you identify your bag quickly and make it less susceptible to thieves who are brazen enough to take luggage right off the carousel!
  10. Don’t delay picking up your checked bag from the Baggage Claim area.  Doing so is leaving too much to chance – and the odds may not be in your favor that day!   

Ways to Track Your Checked Luggage

In addition to the tips listed above, there also are some great little electronic devices that you can use to track your luggage – because, “Frankly, my dear…we DO give a damn” about where our luggage is – especially if it doesn’t come out of the luggage shoot at Baggage Claim!  New devices continue to come onto the market, so do your research to see which one offers all of the features you want at a cost that will suit your budget.   Each of these devices requires a pricing plan from the company in order to track your luggage and, with the exception of the Trakdot Luggage device, are designed to operate only with an Apple IOS or Android cellular phone.

Tracking Devices
  1. LugLoc offers a device which, when used in combination with the downloaded LugLoc app on your smartphone, allows you to track the location of your luggage.  A map view shows where your luggage is at all times.  This device goes directly into your checked luggage before you take off on your flight.  It’s designed to turn off during the flight and to turn back on once the plane comes to a complete stop – so you don’t need to worry about it interfering with the electronic system of the aircraft.  Instead of using GPS, the LugLoc employs GSM technology (Global System for Mobile communications), allowing you to locate your luggage in places where GPS is unable to.  

Lug Loc

Luc Lug Luggage Locator | Source: GeniusPack.com

  1. PocketFinder Luggage Tracker – information about your luggage is displayed conveniently on your smartphone using GPS.  You can set it to shut down for the duration of the flight to save battery power.  This device is a small size and fits easily into your checked luggage.  
  2. Trakdot – Pop this little device into your checked luggage.  It lets you log in to the mobile app to see where your luggage is. The Trakdot Luggage device emits a signal that is used to determine its location, but it doesn’t use GPS. It operates on 2 alkaline AA batteries (DON’T use lithium-ion batteries) and can be used with any cell phone – not only a smartphone.  If you’re in L.A. but you see that your luggage is in Las Vegas, you can contact the airline immediately and have them reroute and deliver your luggage to you.

trackDot

Trakdot | Source Trakdot.com

Baggage Tags
  1. ReboundTAG Microchip Bag Tag – uses a barcode which can be scanned by airport staff to view your itinerary and forward your wayward luggage to your flight destination. The tag has two RFID microchips inside – a permanent identifier and a second microchip programmed to record your itinerary when you’re traveling through an airport which uses microchips.  Not all airports use them; however, most hub airports are equipped with a standard IATA microchip system and it is at hub airports that most luggage is lost.  You are updated by text message and email as to the whereabouts of your luggage. 
  2. SuperSmart Tag – every tag has a unique ID code to provide simple luggage tracking, allowing airport staff to trace your luggage.  Register your tag online on the SuperSmart website and anyone who finds your bag can enter the code to report it.  You are then notified that your luggage has been found.  You can enter your itinerary on the site as well, so airline staff can see where you’re going and send your luggage after you. 
  3. Magellan’s Retriever Tag – a very simple concept which doesn’t employ microchips or codes.  A vinyl tag with instructions in eight languages (English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese and Portuguese) advises airline staff to check for your itinerary inside the tag and to forward your bag to your next destination. 

If you’ve done everything right – checked in early enough for your flight (so that your checked luggage has plenty of time to make it onto the same plane), paid to have your luggage checked (and used your Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale to weigh your luggage to avoid additional charges) – and your luggage STILL gets lost, request a refund (as soon as you realize your luggage is lost) from the airline for the amount of the fee you paid to have your luggage checked in the first place.

Written by Emma Ghattas