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Checking a Bag? Don’t Miss These Baggage Claim Tips

Published by FareCompare on March 6, 2023

baggage claim tips

While traveling with just carry-on luggage is the ideal scenario in terms of saving time and stress, it's not always an option when we're flying. Ask around and we guarantee that almost every traveler will say that waiting at baggage claim is one of the least pleasant and most anxiety-inducing parts of any trip.

Whether it's waiting for what feels like ages to see your bag come around the carousel, dealing with lost or damaged luggage, or losing valuable time in transit, it's no fun. However, there are some tips to help make the unavoidable as palatable as possible.

Read on for our baggage claim tips!

1. Check Your Bag Tags

A smooth baggage pick-up experience starts before you even take off on your first flight. It's essential that your bag is properly tagged – whether by an airline agent or if you do it yourself – with the correct information before you drop it to be checked.

Be sure you remove any old tags from previous trips before arriving at the airport. If your bags quality for priority status, don't forget to check that they're included!

As an extra measure of security, it's smart to see that your name and phone number are attached to the bag in at least two spots. Better safe than sorry!

2. TechTip: Try an AirTag

The wonders of technology. Follow the status of your bag and save time at baggage claim by placing an AirTag in your suitcase. This will help you determine if it arrived to the right destination, and potentially help you track it down within baggage claim if it doesn't come out on the expected carousel.

3. Differentiate Your Bags

Do your best to make your bag stand out from the rest. It's not just a proclamation of personal style, but a practical tip that will save you time.

If your bag looks like a dozen other that are on the flight, do something to differentiate it. Tried and true tips include adding a colorful ribbon, a unique bag tag, or other unusual accessory to make it easier to spot from afar. It will also make it more difficult for another passenger to confuse your bag with theirs.

4. Make Sure You're In the Right Place

It's not always just enough to be in the general baggage claim area. Crowded airports and many flights arriving at once mean you might not be able to get a great view of the screen that displays the carousel information. Also, sometimes the assigned numbers change; it isn't always easy to end up at the right place.

If you're standing at what you think is the proper carousel but nothing is coming down the bend, double check to see that you're in the right place. Remain alert and don't hesitate to get support from airline agents if things start to get chaotic.

5. Position Yourself & Keep an Eye Out

It's everyone's worst nightmare: sometimes you (or another traveler) grab the wrong bag. Save yourself the headache and extra worry by ensuring you're in a spot where you can see the luggage right when it emerges onto the carousel.

Having a clear view and staying alert means you'll be able to spot your bags more easily – and let someone know if they're about to grab yours by mistake.

Before you exit the airport, take a few moments to double check that you have your bag. It's much easier to remedy on-site rather than once you've made it to your destination.

6. Keep Track of Time

If things seem to be taking much longer than expected, you might be entitled to some form of compensation. This depends on what airline you're flying, but it's good to be informed. It's also a clever way for airlines to address the frustration that comes along with fuller flights – and less overhead bin space. More checked bags can lead to more impatient customers, but it's not all for naught.

Delta and Alaska Airlines will both give travelers 2,500 bonus miles if their checked bags aren't out on the carousel within 20 minutes of the aircraft door opening.

Check with each airline to understand the details of the policy, but it's a great tip to have in your back pocket!

7. Don't Give Up – Or In

No matter how much you prepare, not everything is under your control while flying, and that applies to checked luggage and baggage claim issues. Before you throw in the towel, double (triple!) check that your suitcase isn't sitting at another carousel or in a pile of bags grouped together in the area. It might be smart to check the area where specialty items, like sporting equipment and car seats, are placed, just in case.

If you placed an AirTag inside your bag, see what the last known location is. If it shows it is in the baggage claim area, keep searching.

If you're still striking out, talk to your airline's baggage claim office or attendant. See if they can help track your bag's location via your boarding pass and baggage claim stickers. If your bag really isn't there, initiate the paperwork process of reporting a missing bag before you leave the airport.

At this stage in the game, delayed and lost baggage compensation from the airline or even your credit cards may kick in.

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