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11/01/08 - Don't Let The Airlines Lose Your Bags .........Or If They Do, Get Reunited Quicker!
Over the past few days there seems to have been a spate of photographers who have become separated from their luggage while traveling. Maybe the Moon and the Stars have been perfectly aligned to cause this rash of photographer baggage problems. Maybe it's just that while only an average of .005 bags are delayed, misrouted/lost while in transit, with millions of bags in transit per day, that's still 5000 bags per million bags per day!
While you cannot prevent an airline from delaying or misrouting your bags, you can make it easier for the airlines to reunite you with your baggage. How? Simple........label your bag in multiple places and make your bag easily identifiable. Telling the agent that you have lost your 21" black ballistic nylon bag is not going to get your bag found in a sea of black ballistic nylon bags.
When you get your bag ready to go on the road you need to be redundant in your labeling. If you can get a monogram on the bag, get a monogram on your bag as well (Mine is monogramed with "Fish"). I also strongly suggest marking your bag in a bright unique way.
My bags are generally easy to spot, as mentioned in the entry Mark Your Camera Equipment & Never Leave Anything Behind, which I posted a few days ago. However, easy to spot bags do not always make easy to reunite bags. To make reuniting easier, for the rare occasions it happens, I suggest doing the following:
- Place a standard laminated business card or easy to read ID tag on the handle. This tag has my full name, multiple phone numbers I can be reached at and an e-mail address.
- Place a business card in the bag's ID card-slot (if that bag has one)
- Place a white or light coloured piece of duct tape inside the bag with you name, phone numbers and e-mail. Some of my bags have this tape identification twice just to be safe. Generally I place this info on the top lid of the bag or on the interior bag wall of the bag.
- Place a piece of white or pink tape in the outside of the bag with my name and phone number.
- Place bright tape on all the handles, zippers, or surfaces as a further way to make ID'ing the bag easier for those in the baggage office when I describe the bag to them.
By having my bag clearly labeled and marked should my bag get misrouted, my luggage tag get ripped off, my airline baggage tag get torn off and the tape with my info go missing.........the airline can still identify who the bag belongs to and call me directly by looking inside.
Also remember to go to the baggage office, at the airport, as soon as you discover your bag is not on the flight! This is important. You cannot leave the airport and call it in, you need to do it at the airport.
Should your bags have been transfered from one airline to another , contact the baggage office of the airline of your last flight of the journey. Once you have your baggage report in your hand call from the last airline you flew, immediately call the airline of your originating flight, this is the airline who's name is on the baggage tag (if you flew a code share flight, such as having booked a flight through Qantas (QF), but your first flight was actually operated by American Airlines (AA), then call AA, they are the airline that tagged the bag). Chasing your bags from both ends can at times help speed the process along, though!
If your delayed baggage caused you any problems at all do not be shy about seeking compensation from the airline. Most offer a $25 or $50 voucher, it's not much, but it is something. If your travel necessities, such as underwear, tooth brush, diapers, were delayed, also seek reimbursement or these items if you had to replace them. Not all airlines are willing to do this, as detailed in their contract of carriage, but some airlines will, such as United Airlines.
In case you are wondering who the best and worst "main line" airlines are for lost & delayed baggage are, the following are the most recent statistics list the following:
Hawaiian Airlines (HA) 2.6 delayed/lost bags per 1,000,
British Airways (BA) 28.0 delayed/lost bags per 1,000
Below are five photos of my new LL Bean carry-on sized suitcase, which I just purchased to be my checked bag replacing my old, beaten, totally worn out ad "over loved" American Tourister bag. This new bag is the LL Bean Carryall Rolling Pullman (14"w X 22"h X 9"d). I chose an LL Bean bag for one primary reason, they have a life time guarantee. If you break it, rip it, tear off the zipper, the airline shreds the wheels off, you name it and you don't think it lived up to your expectations for ANY REASON LL Bean will replace it , no questions asked, no ifs, ands or buts. I have returned items at 3:30am on Christmas Morning at the LL Bean Flagship Store in Freeport, Maine, (which never closes, the doors have no locks!) and been greeted with a smile and been asked if I wanted to swap the item, have a gift card for the store or a full cash refund. Hands down, the best customer service anywhere!
The five images of this bag show how I clearly identify my checked bags. This is done for two reasons. The first reason is so I can easily spot the bag, amid the hundreds of other black ballistic nylon bags, as it comes around the carousel and as a deterrent to airport thieves (they don't want bright clearly identifiable bags). Te second reason is to have my bag labeled in a way I can tell an airline how to quickly identify my bag should I become separated from bag due to a baggage problem. I make the bag as hard to miss as possible and I also make sure my name and contact information is on it multiple times.
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