How to Avoid Losing a Checked Bag When Flying, From an Airline Expert

  • Danny A. Cox’s job is to make sure flights leave on time and solve guest problems at Breeze.
  • He says the best way to avoid lost luggage is to arrive early and avoid packing bulky items like coats.
  • He has seen that AirTags or Tiles are useful for customers who have lost their bags.

This essay is based on an interview with Danny A. Cox, vice president of guest experiences at newly formed low-cost airline Breeze Airways. It has been edited for length and clarity.

As Vice President of Guest Experience at Breeze Airways, my day-to-day work involves contact centers and airport operations, oscillating between strategy and tactical issues.

As the day begins, I focus on STAR flights, which stands for Start the Airline Right. The term refers to early morning flights, which can cause cascading delays when postponed. Early in the morning I check the first seven or eight planes to make sure they left on time, then turn my attention to turning flights that come into one place and need to quickly turn around or continue. On the airport side, I need to check if planes can depart on time next morning.

Breeze Airways

A Breeze plane.

Courtesy of Breeze

For the contact centers, I work with staff to ensure guests receive responses when there is a delay or disruption. For efficiency reasons, I’m trying to provide an answer to the guest as soon as possible, so I’m getting responses from teams and updating our website. But for long-term improvements, I work with our technology team to ensure a guest’s concern is not repeated.

One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that airlines lose baggage on purpose. Seriously, an airline doesn’t want to lose your luggage and while you may experience more inconvenience than the airline, it’s too costly for us to deal with lost luggage. You share the pain with the airline.

Here’s my top tip for dealing with a lost bag and making sure you never have to worry about lost bags again when flying.

Wear your coat

Individuals often pack coats in a suitcase and bring more suitcases than they really need. This results in a higher volume at the airport, leading to a greater likelihood of disruption or separation from bags. Keep coats with you so you can travel as light as possible – you can always stow them above your suitcase in an overhead compartment.

Arrive early and tag your bag

If you want to check a bag, arrive at the airport earlier than expected and make sure your bag is properly tagged and received by the airline on time.

Write your full name, email address, and phone number on your label. You don’t have to provide your home address for privacy reasons, but if you want to help the airline identify your baggage faster, please provide your destination or work address.

Many baggage separations stem from this type of scenario: a person cuts it off just before departure time and asks an attendant to pick up checked baggage. Then the airline doesn’t scan it in time for TSA or the baggage handler to get the baggage to the plane and it gets lost.

Buy an AirTag or Tile tracker

The number one tip I have for travel – and something I’ve been doing for years – is to buy an Apple AirTag or Tile device. For the last five years I’ve traveled with an AirTag, even in my carry-on, because it gives me more confidence when the airline asks me to check my bags at the gate.

We separated 30 passengers from their bags this summer due to high temperatures in Las Vegas, which reduced the baggage weight allowance on our planes. We benefited from many passengers who had AirTags.

Occasionally some of our smaller stations have minor operations and a bag will be picked up by another airline and loaded onto the wrong aircraft. Once a passenger’s luggage was sent to a city that we didn’t serve and the person might have lost the luggage if they hadn’t checked their AirTag. The passenger saw the Miami location marked and we quickly worked with other airlines to find a bag that matched the description. We might have solved the case without the tag, but it saved us time.

What to do if you lost your bag?

Nobody wants you separated from your luggage, but when it happens, take a few deep breaths and see an airline agent filling out a misplaced luggage claim. Do not leave the airport without a claim number.

Usually your lost luggage is located in the baggage claim area. Maybe someone else saw your bag, thought it looked like their own, and accidentally picked it up. Your luggage may have been left in the claims department at your departure or arrival airport.

If it’s not baggage claim, the ticket counter is the second best stop. These people will be airport employees or airline business partners involved in how a bag is tagged and collected on the way out.

Deal with your luggage problems within an hour after the event. Once a guest leaves the airport, the airline has a hard time verifying the claim that needs to be submitted.

Ask your airline for at least minimal compensation to buy essentials like contact lens solution or a toothbrush. Depending on the guest satisfaction goals set by the companies, some airlines may offer vouchers and points for the inconvenience.

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