Madrid Hotels Articles

July 19, 2010

Flying? How to prevent lost luggage at the airport

March 27th, 2008 is a day which should have meant great things for British Airways. Instead it has turned into a date they would rather forget. As the airline bosses met the first arriving aircraft from Hong Kong into the new Terminal 5, they had little idea that most of the passengers checking-in for their departing flights would not receive their bags for a few days!

Of course, it’s nothing new. The new airport at Hong Kong experienced similar tales of woe when it opened, as did the new terminal at Madrid. Beijing’s new airport was hailed as a great success, but then, would China’s propaganda department actually tell you if it wasn’t?

Thankfully, very few bags actually get completely lost worldwide in the airline system. In 2006, some 240,000 bags were never returned to their owners, over 100,000 of these being in the USA where the arrivals hall baggage carousels can often be accessed by passers-by. Given that there were some 150 million passenger movements that year, the number of bags lost without trace is a tiny fraction but, nonetheless, frustrating for the luckless traveller seen scratching his head in disbelief at the baggage agent’s desk.

So, what can the traveller do to minimise the risk of lost or delayed baggage?

1. Purchase Travel Insurance Very few Europeans engage in either business or leisure travel without buying travel insurance cover which, in addition to medical cover, provides an allowance for essential expenses when bags are delayed or lost. However, despite North America having an “insurance driven culture”, very few US or Canadian citizens seem to consider travel insurance as a priority. Personally, I consider it essential!

2. Know your Airline’s Terms and Conditions. How much cabin baggage do they allow? (Could you pack all you need in your cabin baggage?) What are you not allowed to place in checked-in baggage (some airlines do not allow items such as business documents, laptop computers etc. due to the potential high cost implications to their owners if these items go missing!) What is the airline’s limit of liability and how much do they charge to increase the limit if necessary?

Michael O’Leary of one of the new so-called “low cost airlines”, Ryanair, has abolished any checked baggage allowance. They allow one 10 kg (20 lb) carry on bag which O’Leary says should be adequate for anyone’s needs, given the extremely low advance purchase fares Ryanair charge. As he says, “if you need a hair dryer,

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