Whilst we understand that air travel is the safest form or transport for those of us on the seats, can the same be said for the bags and cases down below? Something along the lines of 22 million travel bags are ‘mishandled’ each year and that has reduced by almost half over the previous 6 years. In 2007, that figure was almost 47 million bags.
The good news is that it is continuing to improve. Airlines are investing heavily in improving the speed, security and reliability of luggage transfer.
A near 50% reduction to 22 million is a pretty good feat. Given the $100 / £70 price tag that the airline has to cough up per bag for repatriation, you can understand that they are as keen to fix this as their bewildered passengers.
81% of the lost travel bags are reunited with their owners unscathed, but with some extra unwanted mileage. 16% arrive with damage or pilfering and just 3% are lost or stolen never to be reunited.
New technology though is helping to improve this. It is now possible to embed a tiny electronic tag in to the baggage label. Traditional cardboard tags with barcodes are correctly read by the airport tracking system about 90% of the time, which rises to over 99% with the new electronic tag. Not all carriers are using them yet, but given the savings that airlines and airports will make, expect to see a whole lot more of them.
So where does it all go?
In USA unclaimed and lost luggage finishes in SCOTTSBORO, Alabama. About one million items per year end up here. Cameras, bags or watches and anything else that a traveller might be carrying. CNN lists travel bags, leather laptop bags, wedding dresses, classic art and guitars amongst other things. And here’s the cool bit! The Unclaimed Baggage Centre sells it off discounted by 50-80%.
Anyone with an eye for a bargain can visit the centre for some real savings. Fine
jewellery is expertly appraised and valued, clothes are washed and dried, electronic gizmos are safety tested and wiped clean of data.
Around half a million shoppers visit the centre each year. Someone got very lucky buying a vintage Cartier valued at $23,000 for just $11,500.
See more at www.unclaimedbaggae.com
What can you do to protect your luggage?
Various ‘smart tags’ are embedded with microchips that connect with a concierge relocation service. Paper tags supplied by the airlines can sometimes be detached from the travel bag. Smart tags are a lot tougher! A unique reference and telephone number will aid repatriation. Buy smart tags online.
Check in early. Airlines have a cut-off time when no more bags can be loaded. This could be down to just timing or overload. Airlines make good revenue by carrying cargo for transport companies like DHL, FedEx, TNT etc. The last cases checked in may not be on time if the passenger is late.
Leave contact information inside your bag. If a travel bag is lost, then the airline staff may open your bag as a means to locate you. A simple link to a phone number and/or email address that you monitor could make all the difference. Best not to leave your home address visible as this can be more than enough info for some scoundrels to visit when no one is there!
Take some photos and make a detailed list of what is in your bag. It helps to identify it when it is located and helps to make an insurance claim if it is not!
There are cases of cases being mistaken! The awesome looking travel bag or case on special offer was probably one of several thousand identical. A bright colourful strap, a loud eye watering sticker or something that you can immediately identify or declare to the lost luggage office can make a world of difference.
Avoid quick connections. The flight that looks look a bargain and the 1 hr connection that is very quick might look very appealing. In that hour though you may have to disembark off of the plane, wait for your luggage to be unloaded, pick it up and re check it in. Baggage is not always automatically connected on all connections! Best to check carefully.
And a final tip…..
Keep valuables in hand luggage. Also spare clothes, toiletries, medicines and anything health related that you rely on.
Happy travels and more in the next blog!