25 February 2008

Baggage Tag Identification Information - The Do's & Don'ts

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@fishfoto.com

25/02/08 - Baggage Tag Identification Information - The Do's & Don'ts

You get a new bag, you pull out the baggage tag and you fill out your home address and phone number, it seems easy enough. Right? WRONG!

While standing at the check-in counters at airports, and the baggage carousel at the end destination point, I have a habit of reading people's baggage tags. Two things always amaze me, the first is the information people put on their tag, the second is the information people leave off of their tags.

When you are traveling the following is the most important information you should have on your tag
- Your name, preferably how it appears on your airline tickets
- Your contact phone number
- Your destination contact phone number if you are traveling somewhere your mobile phone will not be "roaming" with you
- Your e-mail address

Your contact phone number is very important. In this day-and-age, we all have mobile phones. Your mobile phone follows you, this means that if you are flying from Providence, RI (PVD) to Calgary, AB (YYC) and somewhere along the way your bag is delayed the airline can call you and let you know what it has arrived.

If you are traveling somewhere that your mobile phone may not work, such as Japan, which is on it's own GSM mobile phone system, that is GSM 3G only (that's right you GSM EDGE users, your GSM mobile won't work in Japan), you need an alternate form of contact information. List the phone number of your hotel or your business contact so the airline can contact you while you are in an area potentially inaccessible to your mobile phone.

When you are filling out your baggage tag the following information should NOT be placed on your baggage tag
- Your home address
- Your home "landline" phone number

Most people assume that their home address and phone number should be on their bags. The problem with exposing this information on your bags is that there are experienced thieves loitering in many airports reading luggage tags! When you have your home address publicly available on your baggage tag you are announcing to these seasoned criminals that you are not home! It happens more than you would think.

Why no home "landline" phone number? These numbers lead back to your address. I have sat in the lounge at an airport to test my theory and using www.whitepages.com/reverse-lookup searched the phone number on the bags next to me. What a shock, I immediately knew the home address of the guy next to me, as well as his wife's name. Now I have no intention of breaking into anyone's home, but as this guy left the United Airline's Red Carpet Lounge at JFK I saw him walk out with his wife. By the age of this couple, their kids have probably moved out, and by their address off 188th Street in Queens, New York, I know they live in a very nice upscale neighbourhood and their house would be totally unattended for at least a day as they were departing for LAX at 6:30am on United Airlines (UA) Flight 891. Do you want someone knowing this much information about you, just by reading your phone number in an instant while you standing in the airport?

On a more practical issue, if you get off a plane in Stockholm (ARN) and you live in Boston (BOS) and your bags are delayed, how will the airline calling your house help you?

For you members of the American Airlines (AA) AAdvantage frequent flyer program, even you basic members with no status, for US$20 you can order a set of customized AAdvantage luggage tags. These are very useful and simple to order and can allow AA to claim your bag and contact you directly! You can find details on these tags here:
http://www.aa.com/aa/pubcontent/en_US/productsGifts/luggagetags.jsp

So..............when getting your new luggage tags, remember to give useful information and NOT too much information!

Happy Flying!

6 comments:

The Nothing said...

There is a problem without some sort of address on luggage tags. If you do not wish to use your home address, do use a business address.

Case in point: flying between Charlotte, NC, and Portland, OR, my luggage never arrived with me in Oregon. I had just spent the weekend shooting a NASCAR race, and, stupidly, most everything was in my luggage.

I made my claim swiftly, and they gave me some paperwork and a website where I can check in on their findings. Several days later there was still no word, and I'm prepared to submit the itemized claim paperwork (note, again, NEVER CHECK ELECTRONICS unless you're otherwise insured - airlines WILL NOT REFUND for these pricey items).

Extremely discouraged, to say the least, I recieved a phonecall on my way home. Some courier service was on its way to my home with my luggage. That's awesome. However, the airline site that I checked just minutes beforehand still had no information. Even the day later the airline did not have any information for me - despite the fact that I had been reunited with my luggage.

Now, back with the original claim they asked for an address for the baggage to be delivered. Knowing I was going to be spending most of my next week in the office, I did give them my work address. Also, not knowing where my luggage was, I figured it would be the best address for them should my luggage be delivered FedEx or UPS from wherever it was recovered.

Where my stuff was found is still unknown. But, I know it made it to my home because of the address on the tag - not because of my claim.

flyingfish said...

Your incident is actual rare. The airlines are not supposed to dispatch delayed baggage to the address on the baggage tag.

The airlines are known to tell you they can't find your bag when they have it, but the bag going to your house based on the bag tag is incorrect.

They may have used your home addres based on the passenger information associated with your reservation. That is a more likely source of information.

I have had that happen twice with US Airways.

-Fish

JenDavis said...

Thanks for all the great info!

Randy said...

I appreciate our concern for safety and security concerning using your home address. That is why I always insert my business card. If lost, my luggage can still get back to me. If I'm not home, there is always the receptionist to accept delivery.

Elliot said...

Good advice - it's scary how much information one can get w/ just a single phone number and the internet!

Carla` said...

I hadn't thought of the 'reverse lookup' of my home phone# before - yikes! Maybe it's time to get an unlisted number?

A more common problem for me is finding my bags at the carousel - which I solved by using a client's product!

We got a stencil from StencilYourLuggage.com and used it to neatly spray paint "CFP" on the outside of all our bags and cases. Zero confusion at baggage claim!

A side benefit is that there's less chance of a case of equipment 'wandering off' at a field shoot when it's so prominently identifiable.