Dumb Question?

If I check my bag on a direct flight may I assume my bag has a better than average shot at not being lost?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21425 posts

scott, It's difficult to answer that question without knowing some of the specifics of your trip. For example, which airline are you using and where are you flying to? I always check one of my Packs and so far it has NEVER been lost. Baggage routing these days is pretty well totally automated with bar codes, and in my experience it's been very reliable. Happy travels!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12668 posts

Of course you can. In fact it will be about a 99.5% chance that your bag will not be lost.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12948 posts

Although there is a huge store somewhere in the southern US where airlines sell the contents of thousands of bags that are "lost" every year, there is still only a small chance that your checked bag will be permanently lost. If you are on a direct flight, the chances of it being lost are less, but it can still happen. The chances that it will miss a connecting flight, and be significantly delayed, however, are a lot higher. But, if you pack light enough to be able to carry your bag onto the airplane and put it in the overhead rack, it's almost impossible for it to be lost.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2728 posts

Lost Luggage is in Scottsboro, Alabama 40 miles east of Huntsville. It's really a come on. There's very little in the lost luggage department, and what's there is not worth much.
As long as a traveler is strong enough to handle their bags, carry on's are the way to go. I will never be stuck without my clothes in a strange city again after keeping my bag close by.

Posted by Beatrix
2110 posts

I've never had lost luggage but delayed luggage plenty of times. All of the delayed luggage was on flights with connections. With all direct flights my luggage arrived on time. Do carry-on if at all possible. It doesn't always work, especially if you have to bring liquids along (my mom wanted a liqueur that is not sold in duty free shops) or other items, gifts etc. that don't fit. But for most people it's actually easier to do than you think.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8720 posts

I have never lost a bag completely ever,, I have had bag delays twice in like 30 or more years of casual travel ( I imagine a business travellers more frequent trips would skew their chances of losing a bag) ... I think ( and recall reading this somewhere ) that there are steps you can take to make your bag less likely to be lost forever. Simple ones are make sure you remove all old stickers and travel tags placed on your bag from other trips.. look at bag and check,, there are often little transit code stickers stuck on them.
Secondly, make sure your tags are well attached.. I use two .. and I also make sure that INSIDE my bag is a piece of paper that clearly shows my destination and flight number and dates.. I just print this out with felt pen on a sheet of paper and stick it under the netting of my zipped top compartment , its easy to see when the bag opens but won't float away easily. Bags are often lost if tags fall off. If your bag ends up in the wrong place the reality is most times it will be returned to you IF they know where to send it. I think you are of course less likely to lose a bag on a direct flight, every time you change planes the risk increases.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
757 posts

While we rarely check bags, but here are some things we do to either avoid or reduce chances of delayed or lost bags. (Never had bags permentently lost, only delayed) 1) Always carry-on enough to not wreck your trip, in the event your bag is lost delayed, such as change of clothes, toiletries, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. Worst case, you have to do laundry more often. 2) If checking 2 bags, mix up the contents between you and your travel partner. Just because one bag is lost/delayed, doesn't mean it happens to both. 3) I put copies of itinerary and boarding passes in an outside pocket of checked bag. (home address also)
4) If possible, only check bags coming home; if your bags are delayed/lost on your way home, not a disruption to your trip. We usually carry-on our vacation purchases (unless of course wine) and check the dirty clothes on way home.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12948 posts

I have had luggage delayed on a direct flight, but it was at a very busy time. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time, but apparently the baggage handlers were swamped. I was flying home, and my luggage arrived later that day at my home by taxi. Fortunately my house key was not in my checked luggage.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1645 posts

Do you mean nonstop flights? (Is that the same as direct?). I've had a severely delayed checked bag on one trip (delayed for the whole two weeks I was in Europe). Once was enough. I always carry on now. If I can't, for whatever reason, I do what others here suggest and put a change of clothes, all toiletries, and everything related to electronics in my carry-on.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7866 posts

Assuming your bag actually is put on the correct plane, removed at the correct stop, and sent to the correct carousel - sure there's a better chance it won't get lost on a direct flight. If your plane is delayed/rerouted/canceled, a baggage handler is having a bad day, someone at either end thinks they like your bag more than you do, your bag gets caught in handling equipment, doesn't get on the right plane or off at the right stop, then all bets are off. Obviously, except for Alitalia, your bag makes it more often than not. If not, except for Alitalia, it's still fairly likely to catch up to you. When I flew in the Air Force we had both a motto and a subtitle. "Flexibility is the Key to Airpower" - which loosely translates to "Always Carry-on Your Bag". Even if everything goes right with your checked bag, I still beat you to Europe by at least a half-hour. Better yet, I can hop on and off trains, trams, and buses easily without feeling weighed-down. That's something you won't appreciate until you experience it.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2374 posts

There is a difference between a delayed baggage that arrives late (usually within couple days) and one that has been permanently lost (theft, loss of tag etc.) A non-stop direct flight does reduce the risk of the former, indeed, but shouldn't have effect on the latter. Actually, tight connections are the risk factor for delayed baggage.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12948 posts

A direct flight means you stay on the same plane, even though it doesn't have to go non-stop to your final destination. The plane could stop at an intermediate airport on the way. There is always the chance that your luggage might be offloaded at the intermediate airport and not make it on time to your final destination. In 1990, I was on a non-stop flight from Frankfurt to Paris on a plane that was eventually going to So. America. It was a 2 week business trip so I had several large suitcases with business wear and had to check luggage. Because the plane didn't usually carry passengers just to Paris, the baggage handlers didn't go out to get the bags. Fortunately, there was a German couple that got off with me, and they spoke French. After we waited a while and the luggage did not appear, they explained to the baggage handlers that we had checked bags, and the handlers went out and got them. Had it not been for the German couple, my bags would have gone to So. America. Even if the airline had flown them back to Europe (I don't think they had more than one flight a week), I'm not sure they could have caught up with me. For the next 11 nights, I was in a different place every night; some of the places I didn't even know about in advance.