Tips for preventing lost luggage, and finding it when it goes missing

This traveler once suffered a lost checked bag in India and had to endure three days in Calcutta with only the contents of my carry-on bag.  A valuable lesson on what to pack where. If you are going to check a bag, here are some tips on preventing is from getting lost, and getting it back should it not be readily found.

1- Check in early
Baggage handlers may not feel the same sense of urgency as the bag owner for getting late bags on a flight. Having the check-in processes completed and baggage in the pipeline at least 45 minutes before the flight departure time is recommended.

2- Check the destination tags
Travelers should take responsibility to double-check that the correct destination tags get placed on their luggage. The airport codes used on the tags are also shown on the ticket. Old tags and stickers are to be removed before bags are checked to avoid confusion.

3- Enclosing an itinerary indicates luggage destination
Airlines officials will sometimes open a bag to try to identify the owner. There should be a clearly visible itinerary inside the bag indicating its final destination.

4- Make luggage easily identifiable
Luggage that stands out in the crowd are more likely to get where they need to be and less likely to be accidentally taken off the carousel by someone that owns a similar looking bag. Marking a bag can be as easy as adding a tassel, decal, unique strap or colorful tape.

5- Avoid short layovers
When travelers change planes, so does their luggage. Less time between flights means less time for baggage handlers to sort and reroute luggage. A delayed first leg will make that transfer even less likely. Layovers of less than hour should be avoided and longer with international flights. Changing airlines during a layover increases the problem so stick with one carrier.

6- Ship luggage instead of checking
Shipping luggage UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal service is something to consider. Loss rates are much lower with these services and considering the fees airlines charge for checked bags (especially overweight or oversized), shipping may even save money. Ship at least five days ahead and make arrangements for storage at the bags final destination.

7- Add Okoban tracker tags to all luggage items
When luggage does get lost, Okoban tracker tags greatly increase the likelihood that they will be returned in a timely manner.

“Lost” luggage does not actually vanish; “lost” luggage is virtually always found by someone. Lost luggage usually occurs when the finders, usually airline personnel, have no easy way to identify and contact the owner quickly. Okoban® tracker tags from http://www.mystufflostandfound.com connect finders with owners quickly, securely and privately, anywhere in the world.

Finding the best carry-on bag can be a challenge

When Seth Kugel, Frugal Travel writer for the New York Times went out shopping for a new carry-on bag, he decided to share the results of his search with his readers. Here are highlights of his findings:reiwb

 My pricing sweet spot was at about $150. You can find plenty of bags for under $100, but most are blatantly shabby. That may be fine for infrequent travelers or those whose luggage travels exclusively by taxi and elevator, not city streets and stairways. Above $200, things begin to get unnecessarily stylish for my needs, or the needs of any traveler who wants to blend in at hostels or on buses (though I could hardly tear myself away from the Tumi section at Macy’s).

 Instead of wading into different standards for domestic and international carriers, I wanted something that worked everywhere, which means a maximum length of 21 inches and a linear total of 45 inches (that is, length plus width plus depth).

A sturdy handle was a top priority. I lift up the whole suitcase with it even when it’s telescoped all the way out. You’re not supposed to do that, but I’m not going to stop.

 The lighter the better. I travel with books and electronic equipment, and need every last ounce.

 The appeal of spinner wheels is lost on me. I get that they make the bag easier to maneuver on airport floors, but I can’t see them bouncing along rutted sidewalks very smoothly, at least in their low-end versions. If I ever enter a figure-skating-with-luggage competition, I’ll give in, but for now, it’s old-fashioned bulky two-wheeled rollers.

 I liked the idea of hard-shell carry-ons, and if I traveled on (real) business, I’d probably get one: the two shallow compartments look perfect for ironed shirts and fine shoes, but not the bulky items I sometimes carry: hiking shoes and a telephoto lens that needs to be wrapped in layers of T-shirts. (I lost the case, O.K.?)

Between soft-sided regular suitcases and wheeled duffels, I thought I’d definitely want the standard look. But aesthetically, I was torn: the suitcases in my range — lower-end models from dependable brands like Samsonite and TravelPro — were squatter and uglier than the one I was replacing. And the duffels looked better than I thought they would. I was torn …

 … But with the duffels, I definitely didn’t want to give up space for hidden backstraps. That’s a younger traveler’s game.

And the winner: REI Wheely Beast 21-inch wheeled duffel, $149.

I wasn’t going to go for the duffel, I really wasn’t. But it had everything I wanted and still managed to look good, and in just the shape I wanted. It has a big, deep main pocket — no divisions, although there are two small interior pockets and one huge mesh one under the top flap (my new underwear drawer!). There’s an exterior one, too, for easy access, and a pocket underneath that is perfect for papers or tablets (but not big enough for a laptop, fine with me since I carry a small bike messenger bag for that).

To read the complete article, please go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/travel/hunting-for-the-best-carry-on-bag.html?_r=0

Tips for buying luggage in 2014

A very timely article has just been published to help consumers buy luggage. Whether it is a 22-inch carry-on bag you are looking for or a larger piece of checked luggage, there are important considerations to keep in mind. For example, did you realize that in some countries, taxis may have trunks that are too small to hold some large suitcases? Here are more things to consider, as reported in The Vancouver Sun by Joanne Sasvari:green

Think small and light

The bigger the bag, the more you’ll be tempted to pack and the more likely you are to incur outrageous overweight charges. Remember, too, that while aviation authorities may approve certain sizes for carry-on luggage, the actual amount of space on the airplane itself may be quite a bit smaller. Also, taxis overseas tend to be much smaller than in North America, and your 29-inch spinner simply might not fit into the trunk of that tiny Fiat. Go smaller than you think you’ll need, and chances are it’ll be just the right size.

Get tough

The downside of buying cheap, lightweight bags is that they can often be flimsy, poorly constructed and unable to withstand the duress of modern travel. Hard-sided bags tend to be more durable, but more limiting. If you prefer a soft-sided bag, look for a hardy nylon material, preferably waterproof, with taped seams to reinforce the zippers and piping or welts to protect the corners on the outside of the bag. Also look for fibreglass frames, which are both tough and lightweight.

In addition: Make sure the handle is sturdy, firmly attached, the right height for you, and that it feels good in your hand. Shoulder straps for duffels, backpacks and garment bags should be wide, padded and reinforced where they are attached to the bag. Wheels should roll smoothly, be spaced as widely apart as possible and, ideally, be recessed into the frame of the bag so they are somewhat protected.

Lock it up

Do not even consider checking a bag without a lock. It’ll protect your stuff from thieves, but also keep your bag from popping open mid-transit. And that includes your carry-on — more and more, travellers are expected to check carry-on and laptop bags at the gate, and you simply don’t want to leave your valuables vulnerable to temptation or bad luck. Make sure your lock is TSA-approved, which means if border guards need to inspect your bag’s contents, they can relock it instead of breaking off the lock and leaving you vulnerable to pilfering.

To read the full story online please visit: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Buying+your/9741907/story.html

If you are interested in shopping online for top-rated luggage that is sale priced here is your link: Sale Priced Luggage Online

 

Guide to carry-on luggage sizes of 18 popular airlines

A recent survey revealed that nearly one out of every four airline passengers has been caught bringing an oversize suitcase into the cabin of an airplane and has had to pay an extra fee as a result. But with different airlines having different maximum sizes for the carry-on bags they allow, it is no wonder travelers get confused.

There is no standard size required by any international air travel regulatory board. Rather, it is up to each airline to set their own limits and restrictions for how large a suitcase you may bring aboard and stow in the overhead compartment or beneath your seat.

Here are some of the sizes and weights permitted by some of the most popular airlines:

Air France: 55 x 35 x 25 cm and 12 kg.

British Airways: 56 x 25 x 45 cm and 23 kg.

Lufthansa: 55 x 40 x 23 cm and 8 kg.

Ryanair: 55 x 40 x 20 cm and 10 kg.

KLM: 55 x 25 x 35 cm and 12 kg.

Here is more information about various European airlines and the sizes and weights of cabin baggage they permit at no extra cost, as reported recently by Travelmole.com.

Easyjet passengers get the tiniest guaranteed cabin bag allowance, although the low-cost airline imposes no weight restriction, while Thomas Cook limits passengers’ carry-on bags to no more than 5kg.

Iberia is the most generous airline, permitting passengers to board with bags as large as 56x45x25, closely followed by British Airways which allows hand luggage weighing up to 23kgs.

In an effort to provide some clarity to customers, and reduce the number of passengers being forced to pay tocheck in over-sized hand-luggage, Skyscanner has created the following  guide to cabin baggage restrictions on leading European airlines:

If you would like to see a list of 18 airlines and the maximum size and weight they allow for carry-on luggage, please visit: http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2010696&c=setreg&region=2

Airlines getting tougher on oversize carry on luggage rules

It is becoming harder for airline passengers to get away with bringing too-large carry-on suitcases aboard for free. The major carriers have started to enforce their rules more seriously. The first one to strengthen their resolve about bag sizes is United Airlines. They have just put in new tools for judging whether or not carry-on luggage is oversize or allowed within their rules.The rules themselves have not changed, but what is new is how airlines are enforcing the existing regulations. If your baggage is too big, the odds have become greater that you will be sent back to the check-in area, where you’re going to have to pay a fee.

Besides their new inspection equipment at the boarding gates, United Airlines has also sent an email message to their frequent flyers, reminding them what their rules are regarding the size of carry-on luggage.

Here are more details as reported by Travel Mole:

According to an internal newsletter, it is a “renewed focus on carry-on compliance.”

The airline’s passengers are allowed to take one bag aboard measuring no more than 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches, along with an additional small item such as a laptop bag or purse.

United’s long-standing policy has been to allow oversized bags to be checked-in for free, but now anyone stopped at security with bulky luggage will be sent back to the ticket counter to check the bag for a $25 fee.

United said it hopes to speed up the boarding process and ultimately, the time an aircraft spends on the tarmac.

However many travelers believe it is simply an excuse to generate more revenue.

Earlier this year United’s chief revenue officer Jim Compton said the carrier was hoping to get an extra $700 million in ancillary fees over the next four years.

To read the complete article online, please click here.

genius packer 22" with mobile chargerOne of the most clever 22-inch carry-on bags we have seen lately is the new Genius Packer 22″ Carry On that comes with a mobile charger. It comes with a battery pack for recharging mobile devices. Another very hand feature is its patent-pending Laundry Compression Technology.  Click here for details about the Genius Packer 22″.

Largest carry on tote allowable

We are always on the lookout for the largest carry on tote allowable by airline size rules, and we are pleased to have found what looks like a very good one.

largest carry on bagMaxpedition Fliegerduffel Adventure Bag

The fliegerduffel adventure bag from Maxpedition has an overall size of 22x14x9 inches. 22 by 14 by 9-in is also the largest size carry on luggage permitted by many airlines. Dimensions total 45 linear inches. The main compartment is approximately 21 x 13 x 8 inches and has a tie down strap.  There is a top exterior pocket that measures 10 x 6 inches. There are also two internal mesh pockets measuring 10 x 5 x 2 inches. Rounding it out are two external slip pockets that are 14 x 4 inches.

You can buy it online through Amazon at a sale price of $123.40, marked down from the regular retail price of $155.99.

Here is a review of the suitcase posted on the Amazon website by Bradley Fogle: This is an incredible bag that has served me well as a constantly deploying Airman. I purchased this bag due to my need for a tactical carry-on bag to use when traveling. I have been pleasantly surprised by the versatility of this bag and its ability to withstand all types of abuse. This bag has now been on trips to and from Iraq, training trips, and general use. It has survived superbly through all manner of over-stuffing!

My primary reason for purchasing this size of bag was to fall within FAA carry-on sizing. No other bag that I’ve seen gives you the maximum possible space with minimum fuss. The open expanse of the bag’s interior allows you to pack enough gear to last 72 hours or more. There is ample space to put an entire uniform with boots inside the bag and have room left over for your laptop and extra personal items. Even when completely stuffed to the point of being hard to zip close, the bag STILL fits into overhead luggage compartments on small commuter jets. When traveling, I often unzip just one end of the bag to access my laptop and travel accessories that I put into one of the mesh pockets. The design of the bag allows you to have it completely open for packing, then minimally open for when you are traveling and want to get at things.

The bag is designed with a completely open interior. This allows you to pack and organize as you wish. The top of the bag unzips across the front, sides, and 1/4 around the back on each end. This lets you open either end partly when the buckles are connected. On each end of the lid are “cheek pockets” that are mesh enclosed. These pockets are great for putting in small items, electronics, and underwear, socks, or other small clothing items. The ability of opening these ends during travel make these pockets great for small electronics that you want to access while traveling. The front, back, and top of the bag have slip compartments. I’ve used these compartments for books and other items that can slip into them. The back/bottom of the bag has a large, zippered slip compartment. This is also where the stowaway backpack straps go when they are stowed. I’ve used the compartment for quick storage of magazines while traveling. The bag comes with a robust sling strap that attaches to rings on the ends of the bag. Fully loaded, I’ve felt that the bag is easier to carry with the backpack straps. But the sling strap is built well enough, and has nice padding, for when I just want to shoulder the bag. There is a neoprene padded top handle, and reinforced handles at each end of the bag that make it easily handled during any use. For those of us that use Molle webbing, the bag has numerous places that additional pouches can be added to.

To summarize, this is the best traveler bag ever. Its ability to fit into overhead airline compartments when completely filled is its best testament. The bag can be purchased in a low key Black, Tan or Foliage Green, or be completely tactical in an ACU print or OD Green. If you travel constantly and hate the confining compartments of backpacks, this is your relief!

22 Inch Carry On Luggage Bags Are Best

Rick Steeves 21Although some veteran travelers say that 22 inch carry on luggage bags are best, I disagree to some extent. Just as there is no one best airline to serve all of your travel needs, there is no one best carry on suitcase in my opinion. If I were going back to India for another two-week business trip, I would select a different kind of carry on bag than if I were flying to San Francisco to visit my sister. What difference does it make? Well, for starters, the biggest difference is whether or not I am also going to have checked baggage, and how severely it would impact my trip if it were to get lost.

Being stranded in Mumbai among strangers for two weeks without luggage is much different than being in San Francisco with my sister without luggage. Do you follow my drift?

Now that more and more airlines are starting to charge you to check any luggage, I am thinking that I’m going to travel less with checked bags and rely more on having only a carry on suitcase. That being the case, a 22-inch carry on bag is the largest size permitted inside an aircraft cabin by most of the major airlines. Although a rolling bag with wheels and a telescoping handle adds weight and might not be allowed in some of the smaller aircraft used on regional routes, it sure is nice being able to roll it through the airport and not having to tote it. Again, that is my personal preference. If you are a young, healthy back packer kind of a guy or gal then you may feel differently, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion when it comes to what to pack and what to pack it in.

If you do decide to put most of your clothing into a carry on bag, I can personally vouch for the pack-it organizers from the Eagle Creek company. Their 15-inch one not only easily holds seven or eight shirts, but it compresses them into a compact package that takes up much less of the precious space in your suitcase. I also use one of their smaller organizers for underwear and socks.

Finally, I want to mention the Rick Steeves 21-inch roll aboard suitcase that is available now from Amazon for less than $85. Don’t let the 21-inch name fool you. This suitcase is actually much larger. As a matter of fact, it’s actually a bit larger than some stingy airlines will let you carry aboard. Some of the reviews are very positive, while others feel the size discrepancy is misleading, so be forewarned. It also comes with an enclosed laundry bag, which is a nice surprise.

Carry On Luggage Airplane Sizes

carry on luggageThere was a time when you could bring just about any small suitcase aboard an aircraft, but in recent times airlines are getting a lot sticker about enforcing their rules for carry on luggage airplane sizes. On my last trip, flying United Airlines from San Francisco International Airport, I observed a clerk at the boarding gate tell passengers that the size and number of their bags was going to be measured and counted. They were only going to be permitted to carry two items into the aircraft. The larger one has to conform to their overhead bin size requirements and the smaller one had to be able to fit beneath an airline seat. The people were scrambling to re-pack and re-organize their belongings, and those who could not were having to pay an additional fee to check another bag.

Of course, until recently, just about every airline let you check at least one piece of luggage for free. I had to pay $23 for one checked bag with United, and that was for an online check in. If I had waited and checked it in at the airport, the cost would have been even more, at $25 for the first bag. This is the reason why it can save you money to pay close attention to the sizes of luggage you are allowed to carry on an airplane. Although the specific dimensions vary between carriers, each airline posts their carry on luggage size requirements on their website. If, for example, you will be flying Southwest Airlines, if you simply enter “southwest airlines carry on luggage size regulations” into a search engine, you will quickly find out what their most current policy is.

We recently checked a dozen of the most popular airlines that fly in the United States, and we saw that a bag that is no larger than 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches will qualify for all of them.

Depending on your personal needs and where you are flying, the use of carry on luggage may be very important to you. For example, if your flight will be longer than eight hours and if you need to take medication three times per day, then you will need to have it with you inside the aircraft cabin. For a person like me who sometimes travels to exotic locations, I try to keep everything in my hand luggage that I cannot do without, so I won’t be stuck in case my checked luggage gets lost.

Obviously, the more you travel, the more wear and tear your suitcases are going to get. There is a fine line between low price, light weight and durability. My personal preference is to use a light weight carry on bag that does not have any wheels or a telescoping handle. It is made from a good quality fabric that is flexible, so it fits much better in the overhead bin of an airplane than a hard-shell case.

Best Carry On Luggage Requirements

wheeled suitcaseUntil recently I thought that the best carry on luggage was the largest size suitcase that met the requirements of most of the airlines in the USA, but I have now changed my mind. On a trip in the American Southwest recently, I had the occasion twice to fly on a Canadair CRJ-900, a regional jet aircraft flown by United Airlines. Although there is a nice amount of legroom, and there are only two seats per row, with no middle seat between the window and the aisle, the storage capacity in the overhead bins is not as roomy as in most passenger airplanes today. Specifically, the compartments at the roof of the plane are not large enough to fit the typical rolling wheeled carry on bags that are commonly used by a number of passengers. I had no problem fitting my soft sided suitcase up top, but the young man sitting next to me had to check his luggage instead of carrying it aboard. He removed his laptop computer from the bag before giving it to the flight attendant for stowage in the cargo area until we touched down on the other end.

As a result of this experience, I have concluded that the best size for my carry on luggage is one that fits the minimum I can live on in case my checked bag is lost, but is compact enough so that it can be stowed within the overhead bins of even the smallest regional jet aircraft.

My own personal bag is one I purchased from Mountain Equipment Coop in Vancouver, Canada, but it has now been discontinued. A similar suitcase, the MEI Convertible, costs about $100 and is a few inches bigger, but if you do not pack it completely full, you can most likely squeeze it into an area such as I recently encountered. In future posts, I will be reviewing different brands of carry on luggage, as well as giving some tips on packing so your belongings do not take up so much space and will fit into a compact carryon size bag.

Airline Carry On Luggage Restrictions

wheeled carry on luggageAnyone who has recently been to an airport and flown on an airplane has likely noticed how airline carry on luggage restrictions have been tightened up even more. It used to be that you could take three or four items: a small suitcase, purse, laptop computer, camera gear and a bag of duty free purchases and cram them into the overhead bins and under the seat in front of you with ease. Not any more. When I recently took a United Airlines economy flight from San Francisco International to a small, regional airport in an adjoining state, the clerk at the departure gate was very firm in stating the company’s one plus one rule. You can only take one carry-on size bag plus another item aboard the aircraft, and people were told they must reorganize their belongings if they had anything additional they wanted to take.

To make matters worse, the plane was quite small and their overhead bins were not large enough to accommodate the typical carry on rolling luggage with a telescoping handle on the top and wheeled on the bottom. Any passengers with such bags needed to have them tagged, they were stowed in the baggage compartment of the craft and only returned to their owners after the destination had been reached, to be collected at the airport jet way.

United is similar to Delta, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Northwest and Air Canada in that they allow a maximum size of  22 x 14 x 9 inches for carryon baggage. America West is similar, with a total length plus height plus width of 51 inches. Air Tran Airways is a bit more generous with a 55 linear inches total allowance. British Airways has the smallest in the group we reviewed, only letting you carry a 22″ x 16″ x 8″ hand luggage aboard for one of their flights.

Depending on where you anticipate you are going to be traveling, if you are looking to buy an allowable size carry on suitcase, our recommendation would be to get one that is no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches and avoid traveling on British Airways. The only time we ever lost a checked bag was on a B.A. flight from London Heathrow to India. The suitcase was supposed to meet us in Mumbai, but it did not arrive until the day we were flying out of Mumbai for Delhi.