You get to the airport and are excited to start your journey. You’ve made sure you’ve packed everything you need in your bag, have paid the fees to have the bag checked in and are off to the ticket counter. From here you enjoy your flight, you go to baggage claim and see your bag. You pick it up and head off to your hotel. It looks like it’s going to be a sunny day, better grab your shorts and sun block from your bag. You open it and to your horror, you realize this is not your luggage! You’ve grabbed the wrong bag!
Why This Happens
As an airline agent I can say people picked up the wrong bag at least once to twice per flight that came in. Why? The most common reason is that a vast majority of suitcases that get checked in are black roller bags. People can’t tell what their bag looks like from a distance. It’s true that they look pretty identical. The most popular bag when I was an airline agent was Costco’s Kirkland bag line.
People will pick up the bag they think is their’s and are always in a rush to get out of the airport and onto their destination as quickly as possible. You should always check the name on your checked bag to ensure that the bag you are taking is in fact yours.
In rarer circumstances, sometimes the airline agent makes a mistake. They may be in a hurry to check you in before the flight closes and are tagging a number of bags all at once. We were always under pressure to take bags and get them into the x-ray belt as quickly as possible. Take the extra moment and wait for the agent to give you a claim tag and ensure your bag is tagged with your name.
If you are forced to check your bag at the gate, ensure again your bag is tagged to the correct destination and you receive that claim ticket. I’m guilty myself of almost tagging a bag to the wrong city. We had a full flight and had fifty bags we needed to be tagged and taken to the bulk hold of the plane. We were told to rush to make sure the bags made it onto the flight, they weren’t going to hold the plane if we were too slow (the Manager eventually talked to our supervisor about that….major policy breach).
How Can You Fix This?
If you are at the airport, you can take the bag back to the baggage agent or let the ticketing counter know what happened. Make sure you leave the tags on the bag. It is so important the airline is able to track the number on the bag so they know where to send it. They will get a hold of the other person that may have your luggage or maybe it’s being held at the airport.
If you are not at the airport, you can often go online, on the airline’s app or call them to let them know what’s going on. They baggage recovery team will be able to assist you. It happens all the time. You should have your claim ticket number available. I like to take a picture of it with my smart phone just in case.
What Happens With Lost Luggage?
There are two cases most of the time when luggage is considered “lost.” The first is that the bag did not make it through the TSA screening area in time and was not loaded onto the aircraft. When this happens, the bag is always sent on the next available flight to the city you are traveling to. You must file a claim in order to alert the airline to the lost bag.
The second case is when you are coming off of a connecting flight. Many times the connections are short and the bags are not offloaded and transferred to the next flight or other airline in time. You will need to file a claim with the airline you started with and finished with. They will be able to tell you where your bag is.
If nobody can find it, the bag may have not been tagged at all or may have been tagged incorrectly. We’ve had tags fall off bags before and once a bag goes into the TSA screening room, there is no way to figure out where it was supposed to go. The bag room has thousands of bags.
Always try to stay calm and keep your emotions in check. You will be understandable frustrated, but most of the time the situations can be fixed. I hope this provided you with some helpful information as to what happens with lost luggage and the wrong bags picked up. Until next time, happy travels!