4 Reasons Your Luggage Could Be Delayed Long After Your Flight Lands

Just because you got off the plane quickly doesn't mean your bag did.

Baggage Claim Explained
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Even if you manage to get off your flight quickly, that doesn't mean your luggage will be awaiting you at baggage claim.

There is a lot that happens between the time your bag leaves the plane and the moment you grab it off the carousel. Generally, bags are pre-sorted into two groups — transferring bags and terminating bags — when they are retrieved from the plane. Terminating bags are loaded into carts and towed to the baggage claim area where they are transferred to a conveyer belt that transports them to the appropriate carousel. Of course, there are all sorts of variables — including the size of the airport and number of passengers — and, therefore, ample opportunity for problems to arise.

The next time you contemplate giving in to premature lost luggage grief, consider some of the biggest reasons your bag could be delayed.

Electrical Storms

Weather is one of the biggest reasons your baggage may take some extra time to make it to the claim area. When lightning — or any other severe weather — strikes, ground crews are ordered inside for safety reasons, meaning they will take longer to get to your luggage and bring it indoors.

Airport Size

Just like it would take you more time to walk through a larger airport, it takes your luggage more time to travel the distance from your plane to the baggage claim.

Passenger Capacity

If your flight was full, there are more bags to transport throughout the airport. If you were lucky enough to experience a practically empty flight, there's a good chance your bag was removed from the plane in a timely manner.

On bigger flights, one way to potentially reduce waiting time for yourself is to check in as early as possible. Most airlines operate on a first-on, first-off basis when it comes to luggage, so getting ahead of the line could save you waiting time at the other end.

State of the Airport

Most airports have mastered the baggage process through a series of security checks, conveyor belts, and hand-offs — some of the bigger ones even have sophisticated robots — but there are still some hubs with little to no technology behind the baggage process. Keep this in mind when you're traveling to remote areas with airports that don't experience much traffic.

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