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Lost Luggage, Tips On How To Avoid Losing Your Luggage When You Fly

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There are two things I dread when flying, missing my flight and losing my luggage. I set my alarm multiple times and always arrive at the airport well ahead of my flight times to ensure I never miss my scheduled flight time but how can I ensure my luggage gets to the destination with me? The simple answer is it is out of my control once it leaves my possession but I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that will minimize the chance of my luggage going astray. No one wants to spend the first hours of their vacation or work trip on the phone hunting down their suitcase. Here’s what you can do to make sure that never happens.

Lost Luggage Tips

Put your name on the outside and inside of your bag – Your bag may have made it to your destination but someone else may have grabbed it by mistake. Place a luggage tag inside and outside your bag along with a distinctive ribbon or tag so that you can easily recognize your bag and others don’t mistake it for theirs by accident. With your name and number on the tag if it is grabbed by mistake the airline and airport authorities can easily contact you to get it returned ASAP.

Luggage Tags

Luggage Tags provide security and help identify you grab the right bag

Most lost or delayed bags are returned within 24 hours. As you can see from above I have three tags to help make my bag stand out.

Travel with carry-on only – This is my number one piece of advice but I understand it is not for everyone, especially work trips where you need work and casual clothes. If you can though, travelling smart and light is a real game changer and ensures that your luggage will make it to your final destination with you, and best of all there is no waiting at the baggage carousel. If you want some tips on how to pack light check out an earlier story I shared on how I travel for 14 days or more with just my carry-on luggage.

GPS tag your luggage – Have you ever thought of putting a Tile Mate in your luggage? Connecting via Bluetooth Tile Mate allows you to check the companion APP on your smartphone to located anything it is attached to. Keys, luggage, backpacks, and purses are ideal. If you lose your Tile Mate attached luggage all you have to do is click the APP and look up the Tile associated with your luggage. It won’t mail it back for you but at least you will know where it is located.

There was a recent story on the news in Canada about a Pro Golfer who’s golf clubs did not make it to his destination in time. The result was that he spent hours tracking them down and when it came time to play golf (his business) he had to use rental clubs. We will never know how much the stress and change of equipment played in his not making the European Tour cut. Here is a way to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Ship important items direct – If your luggage or as in the above situation, golf clubs are integral to your trip consider shipping them via Luggage Forward or courier service direct to your end destination. The cost is substantially more than the checked bag fee but there is convenience and a tracking system involved. With Luggage Forward they pick up your item from your home and ship it directly to your end destination. At the end of your trip, it is shipped back to your home destination.  For highly important items this may be the #1 tip to get your luggage to your end destination on time and safely, plus they offer a full money back plus $500 USD on-time guarantee per bag.

Air Canada and Luggage Forward direct luggage shipping

Air Canada and Luggage Forward direct luggage shipping

God forbid your luggage does not make it to your end destination with you what should you do? Here are the steps I follow:

  1. Go straight to the luggage counter of your airline and check with them first
  2. Go immediately online and file a missing bag report. Here is the link to Air Canada Delayed Baggage which is my preferred airline to fly with
  3. Rather than call the call centre I go directly to social media. I find Twitter and Facebook to be much faster than the call centres and I have a record of the conversation from both sides to refer back to
  4. When dealing with customer support ask what you are entitled to receive in the way of support to replace items and when that support kicks in. Also, double check your credit card benefits to see if lost luggage support is included in your member benefits

Lost luggage is going to happen, it is inevitable with Air Canada alone transporting over 48 million customers a year. The best way you can make sure it doesn’t happen to you is to follow the tips above and hope that bad weather, tight connections and airport operations don’t conspire to make your luggage the one that goes astray. If it does, stay calm, follow the steps above and keep all your receipts if you are eligible for reimbursement.

Happy and safe travels.

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.


  1. Marc,

    Great tips. I hope I never have to check baggage again. I am a carry-on only guy. Though maybe I should hope for a trip so expansive and lengthy I need a large suitcase for it?


  2. I have flown 3 round trip flights with air canada and one round trip and one one way they managed to lose my luggage
    The one way was over 40 years ago and the round trip was last January which by the way they lost luggage both ways.

  3. I’ll add a tip. Make sure you leave at least 2 hrs between connecting flights. Just because you can physically make it across the airport in time to the connecting gate does not mean your luggage will. I learned that the hard way in Rome.

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