Center for International and Intercultural Studies

Bags & Baggage

The airlines do all they can do to make sure that passengers and their luggage arrive in the same place at the same time. You can help by following these tips.

  1. backpacking in IrelandRemove old destination tags.
    To avoid possible confusion, take off the destination tags from your previous trips.
  2. Make a list of luggage contents.
    List the contents of your bags and keep the list with you. You can help identify a misdirected bag by giving an accurate list of its contents.
  3. Treat fragile items with care.
    Pack small breakable souvenirs in your carry-on bag. Have larger breakables carefully packed for shipment. Avoid flip-top or glass liquid containers and always tighten the tops of all containers. If packing liquids, allow for expansion and only fill bottles 3/4 full. Wrap liquid containers in a plastic bag. Avoid packing aerosols.
  4. Avoid overpacking.
    Overpacking can damage your bags and their contents. Pack only what your luggage can comfortably hold. Be particularly careful with canvas or similar soft-sided bags. Remember to leave room for purchases.
  5. Use sturdy luggage.
    Choose luggage that is sturdy and arrange any necessary repair or replacement of older bags before your trip.
  6. Use external name tags.
    Airlines can return a misplaced bag faster if your name and address are on it. An airline ticketing location or baggage service office can provide for you a plastic shielded name-and-address tag without charge. The tag is to loop around the handle of each bag you check. Be sure your name and address are inside each bag too.
  7. Keep your valuables with you.
    Do not pack in your checked baggage: house or car keys, insulin or other medication, money, jewelry, legal documents, passports, tickets, tourist cards, or other valuable or negotiable items.
  8. Know that luggage requirements vary.
    To be safe, aim to carry one moderate-size suitcase that you will check in with the airlines. It is also permissible to carry one small bag onboard the plane, but it must fit under the seat. Pack the carry-on piece with toiletries, medications, and a change of clothing.
  9. Check in early for flights.
    Check in about one hour before scheduled departure for domestic flights, and two hours before scheduled departure on international trips. Remember to allow enough time for the lines that are always a part of air travel during peak periods. Early check-in gives time to get your luggage to your plane; a last minute check-in means the bags may still be In the terminal when you are in the air.
  10. Monitor the luggage you check.
    Wait at the ticket counter until the agent has tagged your bags. Double check to be sure the tag receipt shows the right destination. Keep the receipt in a secure, easily accessible location.
  11. Allow ample connecting time.
    An airline cannot connect bags as quickly as it connects passengers. Follow the scheduling advice of your airline to be sure you have allowed adequate connecting time between flights.
  12. Remember that bags look alike.
    Do not rely on style or color when reclaiming your luggage. Match the number on the bag with your tag receipt and check your ID tag before leaving the claim area. A distinguishing decal, ribbon, or other mark is a good idea. Besides helping you identify your luggage, it will discourage other persons from picking up your bag.