This is the number one reason airlines lose your luggage forever

Everyone has a lost luggage story, but in most cases, the airline you flew with eventually reunited you with your bag and there was a happy ending, but if you’ve got a story about the bag that never made it home, chances are good that it’s because you didn’t label it in any way.

That’s the biggest lesson from the first-ever Unclaimed Baggage “Found Report” which was released this week by the American company that specializes in selling the contents of unclaimed luggage. Throughout 2023, Unclaimed Baggage’s employees sifted through countless suitcases and ultimately uncovered more than two million items, all of which have a unique story to tell. The report includes a top 10 list of the most common items passengers left behind as well as the most unusual and the most expensive finds. As every bag tells a story, the collective data around what they found inside those bags also paints a picture of emerging travel trends which are detailed in the report.

“Each bag is like a time capsule,” said Bryan Owens, CEO of Unclaimed Baggage. “Twenty years from now, we can look back at the Found Report and see what people packed in 2023. It’s an exciting and curious way to take a snapshot of our culture.”

Probably the most useful information in the report is the company’s list of tips on how to avoid losing your bag in the first place so that you won’t find your belongings listed on Unclaimed Baggage’s website.

Label your bag

The number one reason a bag goes permanently lost is due to lack of identification. Ensure a luggage tag is included on your suitcase with up-to-date contact information including your name, phone number and email address. Label the inside of the luggage as well. If that paper tag that the airport staffer puts on on your bag gets torn off, how is the airline going to know that your plain black suitcase that looks like every other plain black suitcase belongs to you?

Remove old tags

Be sure to remove any old baggage tags from previous trips. These tags can cause confusion for baggage handlers.

Make your bag stand out

Choose luggage that stands out or attach unique identifiers such as a distinct luggage tag, belts or ribbons. Unique or colourful bags are less likely to be mistakenly taken by another traveller, reducing the risk of mix-ups.

Use GPS tracking devices

Invest in a smart luggage tag, such as an Apple AirTag, to help keep track of your bags.

Carry-on essentials

Pack important documents, medications, valuable items and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. This ensures you have essential items with you even if your checked luggage is temporarily misplaced.

Be patient and persistent

If your luggage does go missing, remain patient and persistent when working with airline personnel. They are there to help you locate your belongings

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