August is a time when many of us pack our bags and get away for a stint of rest and relaxation. If your get-away includes a flight, make sure that you consider some simple steps, as highlighted in Conde Nast Traveler, to assure your baggage does not go "bon voyage" to a different destination.
Before Your Trip:
- Remove all tags from previous trips, especially the small white bag-check stickers airlines affix to the sides.
- Take a picture of the contents of your luggage and make an itemized list of the valuable items. Make sure this list goes with you in a separate/safe place, as most airlines limit the amount of time you need to file a claim.
- Be ready to check the carry-on you don't plan on checking. With airlines charging a premium for checked baggage many people are bringing bags on board that they wouldn't have otherwise. Though your carry-on may well be within the allowable size overhead space may be taken, forcing you to check your bag at the last minute. If this happens, you will not have time to remove valuables, so make sure you keep these items separate in a bag that can fit under the seat.
- Place an itinerary with all contact information in a visible place inside your bag. This should include your name, address, e-mail, cell phone number and hotel contact information.
- Put the address of your destination, not your home address, on the outside of your bag. This will help the airlines quickly get your bag to you, if simply on a different flight than you. It will also not announce that no one is at your house and hence susceptible to a burglary.
- Take off any straps and lock wheels that can cause a bag to get stuck on a conveyor belt.
- Never pack anything valuable or that you cannot go without (like a laptop, medication, jewelry, important documents).
- Consider a TSA approved lock. Please be aware that this is limited protection and may actually alert an unscrupulous person that there is something of value in your bag. (The only time I have personally experienced a theft from my suitcase was when I had a lock on it.)
- Avoid checking-in very expensive-looking bags; cloth bags are less appealing to thieves than leather bags.
- Know your rights. Be sure to review the airline's policy on its web site in case something does go wrong.
Why are All of These Precautions Necessary?
Most NH homeowners insurance covers your personal property for theft, but not mysterious disappearance. If the airline simply loses your luggage, this is not considered theft, so therefore it is not covered. If it is determined that your bags were stolen, this must be documented by a police report. If this is in the US, this may not be too difficult, but if it is in an international airport, it is nearly impossible.
For Extra Protection:
There may be circumstances that prevent you from not taking items dear to your heart (and wallet). If this is the case, consider using the luggage wrapping services found at many airports. For approximately $10 a bag, a machine will wrap your suitcase in a tough layer of plastic wrap.
You may also consider buying travel insurance that may include lost luggage coverage. You may also ask your airlines if additional coverage is available through them.