It’s happened to most of us… We get off the plane and go to the baggage carousel. The luggage goes around and around and … nothing. Yours isn’t there… Why does this seem to happen so often?! Here are a few thoughts:
The routing label gets damaged
Cause: When you check your bag, it gets tagged with an oddly printed, illegible routing label — or a legible label gets snagged and torn off your bag shortly after being tagged. Adding insult to injury, it’s a new suitcase, and you’ve forgotten to fill in the cool, leather-bound identification card.
Effect: No one notices the missing/unreadable tag until the bag has gone through TSA and arrived in the hectic distribution area. Because there’s no way to tell where the bag should be headed, it just stays put. After arriving at your destination and waiting in vain for your bag to appear on the carousel, you file a report at the local baggage-service counter, providing a solid description of the suitcase. You’re told it’s going to take a bit of searching, so you continue on without it.
You forget to pick up your luggage upon landing
Cause: Maybe you’re distracted by an urgent text upon landing at home, and head straight for a taxi. Maybe you’re weighed down with heavy carry-on bags and forget you checked one more. Or perhaps you’re a tad buzzed from in-flight cocktails. Whatever the reason, you walk straight past the carousel and leave the airport without collecting your generic black roller bag (with no I.D. tag, natch), and don’t realize it until you’ve arrived at home.
Eventually, an airline employee takes the bag off the carousel and stores it in the carrier’s unclaimed baggage room. You call the airline and they put you through to an airport-based staff member who takes down a description and begins a search.
The attendant types in the wrong destination code
Cause: When you hand over your luggage, the bag-check attendant accidentally inputs the wrong destination code. So off you go to LGA — while your bag heads to LAX.
Effect: When you arrive to your destination and your bag does not, you file a lost-baggage report, giving a detailed description. The agent files it into the system and other agents are notified to be on the lookout in case an unclaimed bag fitting your description arrives at their location.Your suitcase sits in your airline carrier’s holding area waiting to be properly identified. If it’s tagged with your identification details, employees will most likely figure out where your bag was supposed to go and eventually send it there (or at least call to inform you it’s been found). If it has no ID tag, it will sit — and sit — with the other unclaimed luggage.
Your bag is loaded onto the wrong plane
Cause: You check your bag and, moments after it rides out of view on the conveyor belt, human error steps in: An employee places it on the wrong baggage cart, and, as a result, it gets loaded onto the wrong plane.
Effect: Even though the bag goes to the wrong city, it is properly tagged. So when it is the last piece of luggage on the carousel, an attendant will most likely see it, realize the mistake, and notify an attendant at your destination. The airline
will then re-route your bag to where you are (hopefully without further incident), usually delivering it to your destination or, if you’ve reached the end of your trip, to your home.