It’s one of the most gut-wrenching feelings you can experience when arriving at an airport – there are no longer new bags coming out on the baggage carousel, and you do not see yours anywhere. Unfortunately, such cases of lost luggage can happen. 

The good news is that there are several precautions you can take to greatly reduce the likelihood of losing your luggage and valuable items during your travels. And if you’re still unlucky enough to lose your bags, there are also certain steps you can take to minimise your losses and/or ensure that you’re reunited with them. Read on for our travel tips and recommendations!

How to minimise the chances of your bags going missing

1. Make your luggage stand out from the rest

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Make your luggage stand out at the destination airport to enhance your travel experience without incurring additional expenses. These budget-friendly tips ensure easy identification and peace of mind during your journey.

Many luggages look alike nowadays, especially those in conservative colours like black or navy blue. If you’re toting one of these, add a distinctive feature to your bag, such as the auntie’s favourite of a brightly coloured ribbon tied around the handle (just make sure it does not have a long dangly end [see below!]) or a unique sticker, so that you can easily identify it on the baggage carousel. More importantly, it also ensures that other travellers know that your bag is not theirs and that they will not end up mistakenly taking it off the carousel. 

If you’re in the market for a new bag, consider getting one in a distinctive colour or design so that it’s easy to recognise.

2. Ensure that all the straps on your bags are tucked away before checking them in

Most modern airports feature baggage handling systems that use conveyor belts to transport bags. This means that these conveyor belts and loose, dangling bag straps, especially like those on sports backpacks, are not a good match. The straps have the possibility of getting caught in the belts, and when that happens, the bag in question might have to be manually extracted and reintroduced into the system, increasing the chances of a baggage delivery mishap.

Ensure this does not happen by tying away any straps on your backpack. If you’re checking in a backpack and it does not come with its own cover, consider investing in an additional rain cover, which can not only encase the entire bag, straps and all but also come in handy in wet weather.

3. Remove all tags and stickers from your previous trips

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Minimise the risks of mishandled baggage during international air travel by removing previous barcodes, reducing the chances of confusion for baggage handlers and ensuring smooth transit to your destination.

When you check in a bag, the check-in agent will tie a baggage claim tag with a bar code to its handle, and paste a sticker with the same bar code on one of the sides of the bag. When the bag makes its way into the airport baggage handling system, automated scanners use the bar code to recognise which plane the luggage should be directed to. It’s then transported within the system to the appropriate loading area. Minimise the chances of something going wrong in this process by removing all bar codes from your previous travels, be they handle tags or stickers. 

4. Consider using a baggage tracking device or service

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Travel experts recommend using tracking devices like AirTag or Tile to monitor the whereabouts of your baggage items, ensuring peace of mind throughout your journey.

If you want peace of mind regarding the whereabouts of your checked-in bags, you can consider getting a tracking device like an AirTag or Tile, and dropping it inside your bag. Using the power of Bluetooth, these devices, when paired with your phone, enable you to know where the bags are located. If you’re using an AirTag with an iPhone 11 or later, you can even tap the iPhone’s ultra-wideband technology to get the exact location of the AirTag.

These trackers can give you reassurance that your bags have been loaded on your flight. In the unfortunate event of lost luggage, it will let you know if your bag has been left behind at your airport of origin, is stuck in transit somewhere, or has not made it out to the baggage carousel yet.

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Travellers can now utilise Changi Airport's innovative Baggage Tracker service via the Changi App, ensuring peace of mind and hassle-free airport arrivals with real-time baggage tracing.

If you’re flying out of, into or through Changi Airport, you can also try out Changi’s Baggage Tracker feature on the Changi App! This trial baggage tracing service provides passengers with real-time status updates on their bags as the bags travel through the airport, and can give you reassurance on where your bags are at any given time. Check out the Changi Airport website for more info

Many airlines flying to and from Singapore now also provide online baggage tracking services – refer to your airline’s website to learn how to make use of them to locate lost luggage and stay updated.

5. Keep your flight itinerary as simple as possible

While cheaper flights with multiple connections might be tempting, consider the risks involved, as compared to a non-stop flight option. Every additional airport that you transit through is another opportunity for your bags to go missing, as they go through the process of being offloaded from the plane, entering the airport’s baggage system, and being loaded onto the next plane. This is especially the case when the connections between your flights are super-tight – you might make it onto your second flight, but your bags might not.

6. Take a photo of your luggage before checking it in, and make sure you retain the baggage claim sticker that’s provided to you by the check-in agent

Read on to find out why we recommend this!

What you should do if your luggage goes missing

1. Report your missing bag to your airline immediately

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Learn what to do when your baggage is missing - from filing a baggage report to seeking assistance from customer service at the Lost and Found counter.

It is your airline’s responsibility to fly both you and your baggage from your origin to your destination. In the event that you do not see your bags on the baggage carousel, check that they’re not anywhere else in the baggage claim hall. Bags can sometimes be taken off the carousel by ground handlers when they arrive much earlier than their owners, like when there is a really long immigration line. An inconsiderate passenger might also have mistakenly taken your bag off the carousel, and not put it back upon realising their error.

If you’re sure that your bags have gone missing, inform your airline immediately through its lost and found office, on-ground staff, or through the airline’s ground handling agent, so that they can try to locate and reunite them with you.

This is where the pre-check-in photos of your bags come in – they can be very useful aids for the airline staff to recognise them. Your baggage claim sticker will also be invaluable in allowing the staff to certify that you did indeed check your bag, and in determining its status. If your bag is found, the airline will generally try to deliver it to you at a specified address, like your hotel.

Also, ensure that you double-check with your airline on their policy on compensation for missing or lost luggages – some may provide you with reimbursement for travel essentials that you might need while waiting for your bags to be found and delivered.

2. Make your travel insurance claims

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Ensure you keep documentation of your lost luggage for travel insurance claims and seek compensation for delayed baggage.

When informing your airline about your missing bags, make sure that you leave with a report or other document that certifies that your luggage has been lost. Similarly, if your baggage is found and delivered to you, request a form or report that certifies the date and time you received your bags. 

You’ll need this documentation when making your travel insurance claim for delayed/lost baggage. (You did buy travel insurance, didn’t you?) If you had to buy clothes and/or personal effects to temporarily cover the contents of your missing bag, do also ensure that you keep all the receipts so that you can get compensated for them, too.

With these travel tips, hopefully, you’ll be better prepared for your future holidays – ensuring they are all on your travel checklist so you can breeze into airport arrival halls with all your bags in hand!


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