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02/19/2013

An Important Lesson About Baggage Loss

A lonely bag sits at the carousel waiting to be claimed by the owner. Have you considered what you would do if you had a baggage loss? This little yellow bag is sure worried about it.Linda in Customer Service and I chat on a daily basis. With the intertwining of our tasks at Travel Insurance Services, it’s a necessity. And please don’t think that I’m complaining about it — I truly enjoy our daily banter back and forth. But today, she completely disarmed me with a true story about her family.

Her family hails from a small town, where life moves a little bit slower. But they find ways to entertain themselves — like planning a church trip to Israel in the winter. All year they saved, made the deposits, and planned for the trip of a lifetime. Part of that trip included getting passports, preparing medication, and carrying currency with them.

Being the planning folks that they are, Linda’s parents carefully packed all of their medication and cash on their rolling carry-on bag — which seems like a logical place to put it while traveling. The only problem was that their first connection was on regional jets, which are not world-renowned for their overhead space. With this dilemma, they were asked by the airline to gate-check their bag through to their final destination. With no lock on their rolling bag, it was checked to Newark, and ultimately Jerusalem with cash and medication enclosed. Ten hours in Newark is a long time for those things to be sitting around unsecured. And offers the prime opprotunity for baggage loss or baggage theft, considerting all the valuables they kept inside. 

Lucky for Linda’s parents, this story has a happy ending to it as their bag arrived at its destination without the problems of baggage loss or baggage theft. And they throughly enjoyed their trip as they had intended to. But the experienced traveler in me has to ask: what if they had experienced a baggage loss?

It isn’t uncommon for airlines to ask passengers to gate-check items, especially when there’s little room in the overhead compartments. And while baggage loss is becoming a less frequent  problem across common air carriers in the United States, baggage theft and loss are still problems for American travelers overseas.

So knowing that baggage loss and theft are problems for travelers going to foreign countries, how could Linda’s parents have taken better care of their luggage to make sure nothing happened to their items? Here’s how I would have approached the pre-flight packing:

Eggs in Many Baskets

  • First, when carrying valuables, I never pack them all in one bag. My passport usually goes in my insdie coat pocket or my personal item I carry onto the plane at the very least.
  • Second, cash is always secured on my person or on something that I can easily wear underneath my clothes — like a neck wallet or personal item belt.
  • Lastly, in the rare occasion that I need to go somewhere with medication, I always carry what I need in my personal item. In fact, the 3-1-1 rule works perfectly for what medications I need to carry on. If I need more than that, then the remainder gets checked through to my final destination. In a locked and secured bag.

Safe and Secure

  • I’ve already locked my checked luggage with a TSA approved lock — so why am I not doing the same thing with my carry-on bags? In the event that I do have to check a carry-on rolling bag, I can rest assured that it will arrive safe and untouched. And if that check turns into a baggage delay or baggage loss, I’ll be less worried about the contents of my bag. The small price of a lock is better to pay than the real cost of replacing all my goods.
  • Travel insurance for baggage loss. This is just one of its major selling points and situations like these are the reason to purchase insurance — especially when traveling internationally. If they had suffered a baggage loss, how would they replace that medication? How would they recoup their entire loss? A prime case for how travel insurance can help keep travelers moving forward, regardless of where they go.

My personal thanks goes out to Linda for letting me share this story with all you lovely readers out there. How do you make sure all your personal items get to where they’re going securely? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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