Baggage problems – Know your rights

Taking extra precautions in terms of baggage handling and baggage problems can make a difference when traveling. Know your rights and travel smarter.

Between the time passengers check in their luggage and the time they claim it at their destination, it may have passed through a maze of conveyor belts, baggage carts, and forklifts; when airborne, it may have tumbled around the cargo compartment in rough air. In all fairness to the airlines, however, relatively few bags are damaged or lost. With some common sense packing and other precautions, checked baggage will probably arrive safely and baggage problems can be averted.

Pack to avoid problems. Some items should never be put into checked bags in the cargo system—money, jewelry, cameras, medicine, liquids, glass, negotiable securities, or any other things that are valuable, irreplaceable, delicate, or of sentimental value. These and anything else absolutely needed for a trip should be packed in a carry-on bag that will fit under the seat. Remember, the only way to be sure valuables are not damaged or lost is to keep them with you.

Some seasoned travelers recommend carrying enough clothing and personal items with them in carry-on luggage to last 48 hours.

Baggage check-in time limits

This is a little-known rule, but it can be very important. All airlines have baggage check-in time limits which specify how long before a flight bags must be checked in order for the airline to be responsible for timely delivery of that baggage to its destination.

Baggage limits and excess luggage charges

On domestic flights you are normally limited to a total of three pieces of luggage (this includes checked and carry-on bags). Again, this varies by airline.

The bags checked should be labeled—inside and out—with your name, address and phone number. Add the name and address of a person to contact at your destination if it’s practical.