The minutes spent waiting at the baggage carousel can be among the most gut-wrenching, palm-sweating and butterfly-in-stomach-inducing of the entire travel experience. The terror of not seeing your bag ride down the conveyor belt keeps even the most well-seasoned traveler awake at night.
But luckily, airlines are better than ever at reuniting lost bags with their owners. About 97 percent of all lost bags are found and returned within two days, according to the Los Angeles Times. And there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your lost luggage is among that statistic.
As with most aspects of travel, the best plan is foresight. A secure luggage tag with legible information can help bring lost bags back home.
All luggage tags should list the owner’s name, email address, and a phone number.
Whether or not to include an address, however, is contentious, and you might want to refrain from putting your home address on your luggage. “If you can avoid listing your home address, you will be less likely to be targeted for a robbery while you are away,” according to USA Today. However, the address of where you’ll be traveling is a good point of contact for luggage lost on the outbound flight (just include it on a small slip of paper in addition to the permanent card in your luggage tag). If you’re worried about luggage being lost on the return flight, consider listing a work address instead of home.
When traveling abroad, avoid a luggage tag with a flag or anything that could identify your nationality. Also, get a luggage tag with a cover so your information can't be scanned by someone near you.
Finally, as a backup, draft an email that includes a photo of your luggage, its dimensions and your contact information (phone number and work address) that you can forward to the airline in the event your luggage goes missing.
Soon, the issue of what to put on your luggage tag may not even be an issue. Digital luggage tags already provide a secure way to track your bags and allow airport workers to scan for private information. Rimowa’s electronic tag (built into the suitcase) or bagID baggage tags can display travel information and allow airport workers to track luggage.