Airports are notoriously painful experiences, but they don’t have to be. With a little bit of planning you can get in and out without too much stress.
We’ve put together 10 baggage tips to make life at the airport so much easier.
1. Pack light
The airport is a whole different place when you aren’t trying to drag too much luggage to the gates. Cut down to the minimum, take a smaller suitcase and (if you can manage it) travel only with carry on. You’ll never wait at the carousel again.
2. Find luggage that does double duty
A suitcase used to be just a suitcase. Not anymore. Now you can get smart bags that have built in USB ports to charge your electronics and digital scales to weigh themselves. Zippers have been replaced by roller shutters, giving easy access to the very back of your pack, and large fold down handles can act as de facto lap desks. Clever.
3. Know your limits
Not all airlines have the same weight or size restrictions for checked or carry on luggage. Make sure you check the website before you head to the airport, otherwise you could find yourself paying an exorbitant fee or having to repack all your luggage in the check-in line.
4. Tag your bags
Never send your bag off into the vast maze of the airport without your details on it. A sturdy luggage tag with your name, phone number and email address is best. Don’t put your home address – lots of people leave house keys in their luggage and that just tells an enterprising thief where to go for the rest of your belongings.
5. Check the ticket
When you check a bag in, a printed tag will be attached to it and you’ll be given a corresponding smaller tab (often stuck to your boarding pass). Most people just ignore these, but it’s always a good idea to have a quick look and make sure the details are correct. Mislabelling can happen and your bag could be on the way to an entirely different destination.
6. Make your bag stand out
How many plain black suitcases do you see going round on the baggage carousel? It can be hard to know which one is yours when they all look exactly the same. Buy a brightly coloured or patterned suitcase, or attach a distinctive strap or ribbon to yours to make it stand out.
7. Attach a tracker
If you want to know exactly where your bag is at all times, invest in the new breed of mobile tracking devices. You simply clip it to your luggage and then sync it to your smart phone. It will use GPS to give you a real time update on your bag’s location.
8. Go straight to the carousel
Increasingly, airports are designed to make you spend money. When you get off the flight, you’ll probably be lead through a gleaming Duty Free section or past other stores in an attempt to entice a few more holiday dollars out of you. Walk past these and go straight to the carousel – thieves may be on the lookout for unattended bags or someone else could grab your accidentally. Just don’t stand too close to the carousel when you get there. Everyone hates that.
9. Check for damage before you leave
If you need to make a claim for damage done to your bags in transit, it’s best to do it straight away. It becomes much harder to prove the airline is at fault if you’ve put it in a taxi and dragged it into your house. Bring it up with your airline before you leave the airport or, if that’s not possible, take some photos with a time stamp.
10. Pack essentials in your carry on
If your bag does go missing, you don’t want to be left but nothing with the clothes you’re flying in. It’s always a good idea to put an extra pair of underwear and socks, a toothbrush, phone charger and any essential medications in your carry on. That way you’ll at least have the basics if the worst should happen.
Do you agree with these tips?