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5 Reasons Why Your Luggage Might Get Lost

Updated on October 31, 2012

Have you ever wondered why it is that so many bags get lost at the airport each year? After all, how hard can it be to get the suitcase on to the same plane as you and then off again at your destination? As you know if you’ve ever had to deal with lost luggage, it’s harder than might seem at first glance. But there are reasons behind your luggage getting lost and sometimes you can help yourself to prevent the problem from happening to you.

Here are the five biggest reasons that luggage gets lost at the airport:

1.     You’ve irritated someone who is handling your luggage. Are you the type of person who is crabby with customer service folks and who makes them feel like it’s their fault when something goes wrong? If so then there’s a chance that you might end up with lost luggage. No, the folks who handle your baggage aren’t supposed to take their frustration with you out on the bags but these people are human and sometimes revenge happens. They might mislabel your bags or send them to the wrong place on purpose if you cause them too much of a headache. Luckily this is the situation that is most under your control; treat the customer service folks at the airport with kindness and patience and you’ll never have lost luggage caused by this issue. Keep in mind that it’s not the fault of the person at the counter when you have delays or missed flights. Work with them instead of battling them. Not only will this prevent the rare revenge case of lost luggage but it will make it a whole lot easier for you to get your flight situation back on track when there’s an issue.

2.     Flight delays and other problems with the plane. Speaking of problems with your flight, that’s another reason that you might find yourself without luggage when you arrive at the airport. If your flight is too full, you have delays and have to switch from your original flight plans or the layover between flights is too short then your luggage may not make it on to your plane. You can’t do much about ending up on an over-full plane (in which case your luggage sometimes gets sent on the next plane headed to your destination so it’s not there when you arrive). However you can schedule longer layovers to give your bags time to get between planes. You can also skip the checked baggage and go with a carryon.

3.     Technology breaks down. When you check in your suitcases they are tagged with information that is supposed to make it clear where the bags are supposed to go. Unfortunately, there can be problems with the technology. The bags may get scanned incorrectly. Computer problems like this sometimes cause your luggage to get lost. There may also be problems with the technology that takes your bag from one place to another; conveyor belts jam and bags get lost in the process. You can’t do a lot to stop the technology from breaking down on you but at least you know that part of the money you’re paying for your ticket is going to keep the airline’s technology up to date.

4.     Someone else takes off with your luggage. Although it’s possible that someone might intentionally steal your luggage, it’s more often the case that someone else is in a hurry and thinks that your bag is theirs so they take off with you. You wait and wait at the baggage claim but your bag is already gone. This is fairly easy to avoid by making sure that you get luggage that is unique from what other people at the airport are using. Skip the common black suitcase. Get one that’s brightly colored instead. Better yet, make yours truly personalized with fabric tie-ons, bumper stickers and other additions that will make it impossible for anyone to accidentally mistake your bag for theirs. Additionally, don’t dawdle at the airport; make sure that you’re at the baggage claim before the bags start coming out so that you can spot yours right away and prevent this problem.

5.     Human error. Of course, sometimes none of these problems is the reason that your luggage gets lost. Sometimes it’s just because someone at the airport messed up. Your luggage tag might have accidentally gotten pulled off somewhere along the way because a baggage handler was careless. Or someone might just have mistakenly put your bag on a different plane than the one that it was supposed to go on – or forgotten to put it on a plane at all. This is frustrating but there’s not a whole lot that you can do about it. Instead, try to remember that these people are doing their jobs and sometimes they make mistakes. Everyone makes errors in their work now and then so give these folks a break. Getting angry about it isn’t going to get you your luggage back!

Now that you know the most common reasons that your luggage might get lost, you can take some steps to prevent this from happening to you. Some of this stuff is out of your control but do what you can to make your bags safer in the airport. Beyond that, just accept that now and then luggage is going to get lost and know that it usually does get returned to its rightful owner sooner or later. Pack a carryon bag accordingly just in case it happens to you!


Submit a Comment

  • Ciel Clark profile image

    Ciel Clark 

    6 years ago from USA

    I usually travel carry-on only, but these days with children it is harder. Thanks for the information!

  • t2webnetwork profile image


    8 years ago from Oxford, MI

    Great hub! While you may always lose your luggage, I would recommend you just bring a carry on board. If you're going to travel 7+ Days, it never hurts to ship your luggage =]

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Excellent hub! Whatever you didn't mention, sinovreske did above. Thank you for posting this. This should be required reading for those who are about to fly.

  • slnovreske profile image


    8 years ago from Albuquerque, NM

    Hello Kathryn!

    Excellent HUB! I work for a major airline and more specifically I work in baggage claim. It has become my area of expertise. Not only do I handle delayed and lost luggage but I also handle the damaged luggage. Your advice is wonderful. A few pieces to add ... properly labeling your luggage inside and out, and when the customer service agent or sky cap is tagging your bag ... make sure to verify they are placing the correct tag on the bag with your correct destination. Many many things cause bags to be lost, and improperly packed luggage (i.e. too heavy or too delicate to withstand baggage handling) can cause luggage to be lost or damage.

    Again an excellent HUB with excellent points!



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