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Lost luggage?

Hi, folks! I've made a deposit on one of Rick's tours, his one-week "Best of Rome" trip, at the end of April 2022. Like so many prospective Rick Steve travelers, I have until December 31, 2021 to decide whether or not to keep this booking.

Here's my question for those of you who've travelled RECENTLY from Canada or the USA to a European destination: was your checked luggage there when you got off the plane? Past experience doesn't seem to have much bearing on what's been happening since the pandemic began, so I'd like to hear European luggage stories from the past six months.

I know, I know... Rick says bring only one carry on bag. For reasons I won't go into, that won't work for me. I have to check a bag. That said, please, tell me your stories, good and bad.

Many thanks!
Greer in Canada

Posted by
9515 posts

Oh, sorry, I posted on your other thread and the forum won't let me cross post here but I'll add an edited version.

I just got back on Oct 24 from a month+ in France and had no problems with luggage, leaving from Spokane and transiting thru Seattle to CDG in Paris and coming back the same way. I fly Delta.

I suspect you are not really wanting packing advice but...I did a capsule wardrobe section in my Trip Report. For a week, I'd take 1 less shirt and no need for a LS shirt for Rome in April but I would take a LS dri-fit or cardie. I would wear long pants on the plane and take 1 or 2 pr of crop pants if the weather forecast was for 70's (I'm not real heat tolerant!). I would take a waterproof jacket with a hood.

In the end, however, it's your trip and you can pack as you wish. I do recommend you arrive a day or 2 before your tour starts. There is PLENTY to do in Rome for extra days!*"

Posted by
66 posts

We've taken 8 Rick Steves tours (plus other international travel) and sometimes check bags on the way home. If the bags are delayed then, we have plenty of clothes, toiletries, etc. to replace with at home.

As mentioned by several posters, pack essential items in your carryon with a change of clothes. I would strongly suggest taking several photos of your suitcase (outside and inside) in case you have to make a claim.

A couple years ago, I did check my bag on the way to Europe. I placed on top of the packed clothes my full itinerary, including my phone/email address, hotels staying at and any pertinent information that will assist the airline in returning your suitcase. Remember, it may take up to several days to catch up with you. Also, several of the RS tours we took had someone waiting on a bag, fortunately, the bag always turned up.

Posted by
251 posts

Returned from Milan, Italy yesterday. I travel with a 26" suitcase and obviously cannot bring it on board and refuse to downsize, so I always check my bag. Last week when we flew non-stop to Rome on AA, my luggage arrived quickly. Yesterday, we had a connecting flight from Milan, and the bag arrived at JFK with no issue. I had to pick up my bag from the carousel and re-check it because our flights were on 2 separate record locators. No problem with baggage arrival, and the bag made it to my connecting flight When you check your bag, ALWAYS ask the clerk to look at the tag to make sure it shows your intended destination. Also, if you do have a connecting flight, try and have both flights on one record locator and then your bags can initially be checked to your final destination.

We traveled (before covid) to London/EU twice a year, and I have only once 10 years ago, had a bag delayed because AA did not put it on the flight. It arrived the next day, and was brought to my hotel. Now with Baggage Locator on the airline website, it is easier to track your bags to make sure they are on your flight.

Posted by
7426 posts

I flew from Tulsa via Atlanta back to Paris in May, and my luggage arrived fine (it also arrived fine for my trip over to the States, but you asked about travel TO Europe after the pandemic, so that is my one data point).

Posted by
8196 posts

We flew Air France to Paris from SF on 10/14/21 and just returned 3 days ago, on 10/31/21. Our 2 checked bags arrived at both destinations with zero problems.

Posted by
5519 posts

This is a bit of a hodge-podge of scenarios, but:

1) On September 21, we flew to American Airlines to Rome from Denver, connecting at Dallas, carry-on only. Carrying special flour for making pasta (it’s a long story - I know they have flour in Italy), plus special hot chocolate mix (another long story), we ran into a huge hassle at Denver security. Apparently it’s not just liquids being suspicious, it’s powders, too. Had we checked the bags, there wouldn’t have been a mean, bellowing guard in our faces. We did have our bags with us, though. It appeared that people on our flight from Dallas who checked bags were with us at passport control in Rome, though. At least a lot of folks got their bags back with no delay - maybe everybody.

2) Coming home on Oct. 26 in reverse, we checked bags. Rome to Dallas, our bags were on the carousel in Dallas almost immediately once we made the long trek to collect them. After clearing passport control and customs, we re-deposited the bags for the Dallas to Denver flight. Bags were on the carousel right away there, too, which was a nice change from when we’ve flown direct from London to Denver, and waited a very long time to get our bags.

Posted by
51 posts

On October 21, I flew SFO-DFW-FCO and had no problems with my checked bag. That being said, a couple of weeks earlier my sister and her husband flew PDX-DFW-FCO. Their plane out of PDX was about an hour late taking off so that cut the connection time in Dallas significantly. They made the flight to Rome, but their checked baggage did not. It took a full week for their baggage to arrive at their home in Orvieto. If yours is not a direct flight, it's good insurance to allow a generous connection time between flights.

Posted by
12939 posts

Since you must check your bag on this trip, I hope that the tales of peoples’ recent experience is reassuring. But just remember that anecdotal stories are pretty much irrelevant to your personal experience. The fact is that the chance of your checked bag being lost is very, very slim. And probably even slimmer these days, with fewer people flying, but by next year that will likely change.

You can reduce the chance of your bag being misdirected even further by following the advice in the last previous post——if you have a flight connection on the way to Rome, book flights that allow ample time between the two flights, in case your first flight is late departing. Some airlines and third-party vendors will sell you a flight to Europe with a connect time of 90 minutes or even less. That is not enough, in my view. I like to allow 2.5 to 3 hours between our 2 flights. Then we end up with extra time sitting around the second airport, but that’s OK.

And now here comes an anecdote—not within the last 6 months, but from May 2019, our most recent trip to Europe. We flew British Airways from Seattle to Barcelona, with a connection at London Heathrow. I booked flights with 2.5 hours between landing in London and taking off for Barcelona. But our departing flight was late, and the connect time was cut down to 35 minutes. Upon touchdown, as our 747 plane taxied to the gate, there was an announcement that passengers booked on the Barcelona flight (there were 16 of us in all) would be allowed to de-plane first, and escorted to the next gate (which was in a different terminal, so we had to transfer by bus). They had a dedicated shuttle bus waiting for us at the gate. I thought, “oh, that’s great—-but what about our checked luggage? At least we have 4 days in Barcelona so the bags can catch up with us.” But lo and behold, it was there on the carousel at baggage claim.

Posted by
214 posts

Mine was there- traveled from LAX to Frankfurt then by train to Cologne - no problems with luggage, then came back LAX to Munich (Lufthansa on both flights) - zero issues. The Lufthansa lady on the way back was awesome, we had 3 bags extra, because of their size she decided to just label them as "checked carry-ons" and then didn't charge us the extra $300. All arrived in perfect condition.

As far as going through customs or anything, I was only asked in Frankfurt to open my carry on since it had a camera. They ran some kind of strip-test on it (I am assuming for drugs?) maybe people smuggle drugs in cameras these days I don't know. Took about 30 seconds, ran it (the test strip) through a separate machine, no issues.

One thing we always do is have a "Rebound Tag" on our luggage (its a QR code based scanned device) in case it does get lost, on top of regular tags. So far no one has had to use it though.

Posted by
107 posts

@greeerjohnston I haven't flown recently, but pre-covid traveled frequently for work and sometimes had to check a bag. A few tips that have helped avoid problems for me. First, most bags that don't make it on the same flight as you will show up at your destination within a day or two. So, if you can plan an extra day or two in your first city before the tour starts, the odds of your bag showing up before you embark on your tour are pretty good. Second, book flight itineraries with fewer stops/changes. Each time your bag has to be unloaded, transferred, and reloaded increases the odds that something will go awry. Likewise, allow sufficient time during connections for said bag transfers (also less stressful for you, usually). Third, pack anything you need in the first couple of days and/or that would be super hard to replace (i.e. medicines, outfits for special occasions, etc.) in your carry on, so if your bag doesn't arrive on time, you're not missing necessary medication or stressing that you don't have what you need to wear to a formal wedding, or whatever.

@jaeson1992 They were probably swabbing for explosives. The inside of explosive devices can look a lot like the inside of normal electronics to an x-ray machine.