Airlines have lost my bags several times.  In most cases, my bags would miraculously appear a few days later, or in one instance, three weeks later and adorned with random stickers from around the world.  This latest MIA episode is different as my bag is completely gone, missing, vanished, a runaway.  If I could submit a picture of my red suitcase on the side of a milk carton, I would…

On my return trip from San Francisco to San Diego, my luggage arrived at the airport before me and by the time I arrived it was nowhere to be found.  What’s interesting is that it was scanned at the San Diego airport that morning and I was told that maybe it was picked up by someone else by mistake and that it happens all the time, but  two weeks later no one has returned my bag.   I figure that  my belongings are on a blanket on La Avenida Revolucion in Tijuana getting sold to tourists, or perhaps at this monstrous site:  What happened to the days of scanning bags and presenting luggage tickets before leaving the airport?  I wonder how often airlines lose travelers’ bags.

Ever since baggage policies changed starting in December 2004, including the ban on liquids and gels in carry-on luggage, the number of delayed or lost bags has climbed.  According to the US department of transportation’s consumer report, 191,971 total baggage claims were reported in June 2010 from all domestic airlines in the US.  For every 1,000 passengers, 3.72 bags were reported lost or delayed.  Globally, in 2009 25 million bags have been lost or were diverted to wrong destinations, with a whopping loss for the industry of about $2.5 billion in one year!  Part of this might be attributed to short staffing and strapped baggage handling systems, or the fact that there are wicked people out there that take suitcases from strangers…I digress.

Airports and the airlines in general have obviously taken a huge hit in the last decade and are cutting costs in every way possible.  Gone are the days of luggage scanner employees and welcome to everyone’s new favorite policy of paying a checked-baggage fee.  It is apparently not very cost efficient for airlines to lose baggage since it is most airlines policy to refund a customer for their lost belongings.  However, airlines make millions of dollars with checked bag fees!  If that is the case, I feel that there needs to be some sort of implementation towards figuring out the mishandled bags issue.

I’m sure the airlines and airports do their best not to have to deal with these issues, and maybe I just have really bad luck.  In the meantime, I wanted to pass on a few key tips when traveling courtesy of

  • Scan your passport, passport photos and paper tickets in your email account
  • Store details of your emergency telephone numbers electronically so you know who to contact if your credit card or ATM card is lost or stolen
  • Split up your valuables – this includes bank cards, cash, travelers checks –  as much as possible in different pockets or bags when packing
  • Use small bottles that are easier to check by security, especially if you want to carry your bag on a flight
  • Gifts – it’s a good idea to take small gifts while traveling, pre-wrapping them can be a waste of time if you are flying and your bags are opened
  • Carry On – keep any medication and important papers in your carry-on bag.  On long flights with multiple stopovers, packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on a long haul, multiple stop flights.
  • Try to carry on your bag if possible to have it with you at all times!

For you travelers out there, be wary of the risks of checking your bag .  And if you happen to see a red Travel Gear suitcase in the San Diego area with my name on it, send it my way please!


Datalogic Stops Lost Luggage at Rome Airport,00002687,00003329

Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement