TRAVEL HACK: Guarantee the Airline Never Loses Your Luggage

TLDR: By never giving it to them in the first place.  Now, lets get into the article..

Travel is amazing and essential. Travel builds character, gives meaningful life experiences, and exposes you to the beauty existing in the world around us. Travel can also be mandatory for many; with loved ones living on either coast or some traveling for work, it can be unavoidable for most. But sis, have you seen the news? (side eye) Looks like airlines are challenged with a major problem, impacting millions traveling each year. A report shows that 55% of U.S. airline passengers have lost their luggage. In 2022, American Airlines lost the most luggage of all national airlines mishandling over 1.4 million bags. Following American Airlines were JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines. No, ma’am!

travel horror lost luggage

As people try to safeguard their items, adding Bluetooth trackers like AirTags to their luggage to obtain its whereabouts in the event it goes missing, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll get your luggage back. I’ve read stories of airlines losing luggage and a customer being able to track their luggage to grocery stores, shopping centers, and even apartment buildings! Imagine opening the “Find My” app, selecting your AirTag, and your luggage showing up in someone’s apartment complex? Or better yet, the AirTag not even connecting? Not me, ya’ll stay safe, though!

My trust hit an all-time low in 2013 when I traveled to Florida and waited patiently for my luggage to make its way around the conveyor belt. My eyes were glued to that dark hole in the wall separating me from the baggage handlers, waiting for the moment I would see my black polka-dotted luggage riddled with pink ribbons come shooting out.

Anxiety began to set in when I noticed that fewer and fewer bags were circling, and fewer people were standing around waiting for their luggage. An hour passed, and there was me, standing in the baggage claim office, waiting for some explanation of where my bag could be. I can still remember the feeling in my gut while I looked at that lady, and she looked at me, looking back at her looking back at me…

I remember the agent assuring me that my bag simply didn’t make it onto my connecting flight and that she would ensure my luggage was delivered to my hotel the next day. A line I’m sure she had said hundreds of times before, but for me was not so comforting. Long story short, the bag never made it to my hotel, and I had the privilege of enjoying a five-day trip with no change of clothes, no cute outfits to change into, nothing. From that experience, I promised myself I would never intentionally check a bag again. Ever!

travel hack, luggage

And I didn’t. The exception: traveling overseas on extended vacations, but at the time, those weren’t happening as frequently as domestic travel. Until this very day, I’ve kept this hack a perfectly guarded secret until a best friend told me it was a game changer. Imagine that.. me, changing the game.

While I can’t guarantee that I can account for EVERY scenario, I can account for the most common. If you are interested in some tricks to help you avoid the travel trauma plaguing our nation, why darling, do keep reading. These travel hacks will ensure you and your luggage make it to your destination together… at the same time. Hell, one of them will even save you some money. I’ll let you figure that one out; we don’t snitch on ourselves over here. 😉

Disclaimer: These hacks may require you to make an adjustment of packing minimally. While I love the luxury of multiple outfit changes and various choices of shoes at my disposal, there is value in planning outfits in advance and having options that can be recycled on different days. I found that this value far exceeds the temporary pleasure of looking good for one day on vacation, especially if it means I can curtail the risk of losing the ability to look good in those items ever again.

Travel Tip #1: Pack Minimally Always

Is it absolutely necessary to bring your finest linens on luxurious travel excursions? I won’t say – but I will say, it’s not fun to find out that those fabulous linens have magically disappeared somewhere no one can locate, or see them front page on a blog site worn by a fashion designer who stole them from your luggage that somehow went missing.

Here’s what I would absolutely recommend. Pack like you’re packing for a carry-on, always. Do you need a large bottle of lotion, shampoo, conditioner, or perfume? No, you don’t. Pack two 3.4-ounce bottles; pack three or four if you have to. Stay within the TSA travel guidelines no matter the duration of your trip.

Plan your outfits and bring only what you need. I can’t count how many times I’ve unpacked my luggage after coming home, only to retrieve articles of clothing that I didn’t even wear. This hit home when I realized I was unpacking makeup I didn’t even use, taking up more space than needed. So now, I have a makeup travel bag (which I love too much) consisting of travel-sized setting powders, primers, setting sprays, etc.

travel hack luxury travel

Travel Tip #2: Bring Two Carry-Ons

So, the airline says you are allowed two carry-on bags. For women, that usually translates to a “purse” and one carry-on luggage. My thoughts are women carry large purses all the time, so my purse is actually a Lululemon 25L Go Getter Bag. I previously tried this with a 30L bag and had to check my carry-on rolling luggage. I messed up there, please don’t make this mistake.

In my Go Getter bag, I pack the purse I intend to carry when I reach my destination, my toiletries, any electronics I anticipate using, maybe shoes, depending on what else I’m packing, intimates, flat irons, whatever. Essentially, anything small that doesn’t have to go in my rolling luggage. I try to reserve my suitcase for the bigger items that have to be folded; outfits and shoes.

In my suitcase, I pack, very strategically, just the clothes I intend to bring. I roll jeans instead of folding them, and if I’m packing thick sweaters, I lay them flat along the bottom of the luggage rather than folding them. I utilize packing cubes to remain organized and pack items tightly. I pack sandals between the two bars that support the luggage handles and always in a dust bag.

travel check in

Travel Tip #3: Bypass The Airline Counter

This is the hack of all hacks. It’s convenient, and it saves time. I avoid the airline counter like the plague, especially since I have TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. I always have the airline’s app downloaded to my phone. The night before, I’ve checked in via the app, and the ticket is ready to be scanned. There is absolutely no need for me to stop by the airline counter, and any changes that need to be made throughout my travel experience can be made by travel agents at the gate. The airline counter is a trap; prove me wrong.

If you’re concerned about the ticket not loading at TSA, take a screenshot and have it readily available in your photos. Also, suppose the gate agent wants to take my luggage. In that case, I know that them taking it at the gate will result in the likelihood of the luggage going directly onto the plane I’m boarding since the baggage handler retrieves it from the end of the loading bridge.

I love these travel hacks and swear by them. The only hack I haven’t figured out is managing those one-off chances when the gate agent requires you to check your bag at the gate and you’re on a connecting flight. So far, my solution is to avoid connecting flights altogether, but sometimes that’s not always possible.

That experience in 2013 forced me to evolve from feeling like I needed to take everything with me on a trip. You realize when you return home after travel, there’s always something that went unworn or unused anyway. Even more so, you realize there’s no better feeling than walking off the plane and out of the airport with the same fervor as those that stand up when the seatbelt light goes off after landing with all your items in tow. 

My advice: pack minimally, pack strategically and keep your things with you at all times. It’s getting rough out here…

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