The amount of luggage lost by the airlines has soared recently, and with Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, the numbers could escalate.
Lost luggage is a huge and growing problem in the United States. In the last few months, airlines broke an all-time record for the amount of mishandled luggage.
Any frequent flier will tell you that checking luggage can be a gamble, and those odds are getting much worse.
After authorities in Britain uncovered the terrorist plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners in August, stringent carry on rules were put in place, which meant an immediate 20 percent increase in checked luggage.
The heavy load overburdened baggage handlers and led to a spike in lost items.
Now, a report just out from the Transportation Department reveals passenger complaints of mishandled luggage have gone up dramatically.
In September, more than 380,000 passengers reported luggage problems, up more than 90 percent from last year.
Some airports, like McCarran in Las Vegas, are betting on new technology to increase the odds of finding that lost luggage.
The airport is installing radio frequency readers, like those used by retailers to track inventory.
All outgoing baggage is being tagged, so the airport can find out if a bag doesn’t make a flight before the passenger hits the ground.
What You Can Do
There are some things you can do to take the sting out of lost luggage.
1. Put ID inside your bag.
Don’t just rely on the outside luggage ID tag. Make sure to put a business card visible in the inside pocket as well.
2. Pack clothes in companion’s luggage.
If you’re traveling with friends or family, try to switch a few outfits in each of your suitcases. If your luggage ends up missing, at least you’ll have something to wear while you wait for the airline to find it.
3. Carry a picture of your bag.
Take a picture of your bag. That way you can show the airline exactly what it looks like if it’s lost or damaged.
4. File a Complaint.
Be sure to file a complaint immediately. If you still can’t get satisfaction, or feel the need to report the airline, write or call the DOT Aviation Consumer Protection: 400 Seventh Street, S.W. #4107, Washington D.C., 20590, (202) 366-4000.