Don't Forget This Detail Before You Check Your Luggage If You Want It To Arrive With You

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Many of us have dealt with lost luggage or live in fear wondering when it will eventually happen to us. We often worry that we'll be left dealing with a customer service counter when we should be vacationing. Though airlines do their best to get things to the right place, it isn't always easy. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that, based on the fiscal year 2022, their Air Traffic Organization worked with 45,000 flights a day and 2.9 million passengers. Again, that's per day. Honestly, it's a wonder most of our bags do make it to where we're going. 

Frequent travelers employ plenty of tricks to make sure their bags get to the right airport and carousel, like tying ribbons on them, picking unusual suitcase colors, and using baggage tags. As it turns out, there's actually something else that can mean the difference between your luggage going on vacation with you and taking a trip of its own. According to a TikTok put out by Ontario International Airport (@flyontariport), you must remove the tiny little barcode sticker that ends up on your checked luggage when you get to your hotel or back home. Here's why. 

Barcodes can help you or hurt you

These little stickers (as you can see in the above photo) are usually rectangular, and white, and have a barcode on them that is unique to you and your trip, including any connecting flights. Luggage is scanned onto the conveyor belt after you check it in and that scanner is 360 degrees, meaning it can see where that other sticker from your last trip is hidden. 

If the barcode from your trip to, say, Antigua on American Airlines stays on when you're traveling to London on a United Airlines flight and that first barcode gets scanned instead, your bags might end up on the island while you're stuck without clothes in the U.K. As such, before you head to the airport, check your luggage thoroughly for one of these little guys and remove it. 

If you miss it, you might get lucky and have the TSA agent who is checking your luggage notice that it's still there but don't take the chance. After all, lost luggage is a pain to retrieve and could ruin your whole trip. 

Ensure that your luggage arrives with you

It should go without saying at this point that any of the larger white luggage tags with all the information from your last flight should be taken off before your next trip, though you're probably more likely to notice them first. You can also put an Apple Airtag inside your luggage so it can be tracked. They're not infallible, but these electronic tags can make it easier to discern where lost luggage has ended up. 

We already mentioned customizing your luggage, but outside of colorful ribbons, personal luggage tags, and unusual colors, you can also wrap a colorful circular exercise band or TSA-approved luggage belt(s) (like this one from Collwait) around the outside. It will help to keep it from opening if the clasp comes undone or the zipper breaks. It's also another visual aid to discern your luggage from all the others trundling along on the conveyor belt. 

Another option is to take a picture of all the items in your luggage by laying them out on the bed as you pack. Then, take a pic of the luggage with you at the airport. That way you have a visual reference for the airline agent. Finally, print out your contact information (first initial and last name, email and/or phone number, departure city, and destination) on a piece of paper and put it inside your luggage for extra security in case it does go astray