Want To See Your Bags Come Off Luggage Claim First? Try This

Flying anywhere typically requires travelers to invest in some planning time. A big question that many travelers face when they're hitting the skies for either business or pleasure is whether to check their luggage. The fear of luggage mishaps motivates many adventurers to stick exclusively with a carry-on, but there are times when checking luggage is simply unavoidable.

The potential for mishandled transfers, human error in tagging, and simple loading mistakes can make the walk to the luggage carousel that much more daunting. Wondering if your luggage will even arrive successfully can be extra stressful. Then there's the sea of baggage to consider that's likely waiting to be sifted through if you happen to be last off the plane.

The anxious wait at the carousel is a familiar scenario among travelers. It's also backed by some unsettling numbers. The United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports nearly 393 million bags are handled by U.S. air carriers annually. Out of that total, upward of 2 million bags are lost within the same timeframe.

When you can't get around checking a bag, but want to reduce both the stress and time-consuming process of retrieving your luggage there are a few options available. The following tricks could potentially get your bags back in your hands more quickly and get you where you're going more efficiently as well. While you can't control all the possible scenarios at the airport, having a strategy typically makes for a smoother travel experience.

Consider adjusting your check-in plans

Being first to the gate can be tempting to travelers. Those worried about a missed boarding call or flight might head to the airport hours in advance. Checking luggage early, getting through security, and finding the gate well in advance of a flight can initially seem like good strategies to ease travel stress.

However, if your plans also include getting your luggage off the carousel first at your final destination, it's worth rethinking the check-in process. Planning for a little delay could actually be time-saving in the end. Airlines earn revenue for the hours their aircraft are in flight which is a big motivator when it comes to standardizing the luggage check-in process. The sooner flights depart, the more profitable it is for airlines.

After passengers drop off their luggage at the check-in counter, the airline agent moves it to a conveyor belt that transports it to a baggage carousel. Here, luggage is picked up by airline staff and typically transferred manually to a cart or loading device. Ground handlers then load up the baggage carts and tow them outdoors to the aircraft.

As that luggage is loaded onto the plane, it's typically packed from front to back. Upon landing at a final destination, the entire process of unloading luggage and getting it to the carousel is reversed. That means luggage that was checked in and packed last will be first out of the plane and ultimately, first on the carousel belt.

Try checking your luggage at the gate

If delaying your check-in isn't appealing, there's yet another option to consider. First, you'll need to see if your luggage meets the airline size and weight requirements to carry through security. If it does, checking your luggage right at the gate could be a possibility.

You'll want to speak with the desk agent for your flight and request they check your luggage for you. If they agree, the luggage will likely be loaded last onto the aircraft. This achieves the same outcome as delaying the initial check-in process and there's a good chance you'll see your suitcases first on the conveyer belt at your final destination.

No matter which option you choose, including an Apple AirTag in your luggage before check-in can provide some added peace of mind. This simple step gives you an idea of where your luggage is going in real-time, and how long you'll have to wait to retrieve it at the carousel. Bluetooth tracking devices like these are small, yet powerful when it comes to accuracy. The touch of a button on your iPhone is all it takes to access updates on your luggage's whereabouts.

Avoiding the anxious wait at the luggage carousel can be achieved with simple and strategic planning. For some, a late check-in might be best while others find checking their luggage at the gate to be less stressful. Either way, the reward is seeing your luggage come down the belt first upon arrival.