In the digital age, are luggage tags still necessary on airlines? And do you need luggage tags for carry on bags? YES!
It's often the little things that can make a big difference in travel and all aspects of life. And while I wouldn't go so far to say that good luggage tags can make or break a trip, having reliable gear that makes your journey easier goes a long way in guaranteeing a great vacation.
As always, I'm happy to do my very best and try to get to the bottom of things - any info that makes your air travel smoother is good in my books!
Know your airline identifiers.
Mistakes can happen, so take a quick second to double check the information on the tag. Knowing the three letter airport code of your destination can make the difference between having your luggage end up in Sydney, Nova Scotia instead of Sydney, Australia!
Free tags - a sticky situation?
Therefore, no matter what size your bag, how far your destination, or even whether or not you are checking your bag, it should always carry some identification - identification that is all your own! If all this talk about travel motivates you to hit the road, then grab your bags and make note of the following suggestions for what you should look for in a tag.
Know your luggage tag strength.
Avoid long loops and tag holders - they will only get snagged in the conveyor belt mechanisms and tear off. Choose short, strong loops that will hold the tag close to the bag. Place the tag someplace where it can be tucked out of harms way (like under a handle).
Airline check-in counters offer paper luggage tags with thin elastic bands. While these flimsy tags will be the first to be destroyed, I often add a few to my bag. They serve as a quick and easy visual identifier to staff as to which airline you are flying with and potentially might help avoid minor mix-ups.
Luggage tag design: it matters.
Pay careful attention to the item's stress points - its buckle and its leash. Can you lift your bag by the luggage tag alone and not have it strain or tear? That's a good sign! For my money, stainless steel cables that loop around the handle and then lock into the tag are the best.
Choosing a luggage tag in a bright color or unusual design should help mitigate the potential for mixups - or at least in theory. But these colorful and cute tags are often poorly made and are sold on the basis on their visual appeal and not quality. Select your tag for quality first, and then get the most colorful one that's available.
Don't write your life story: luggage tag information.
Instead, I write out my first initial and last name, where the bag is travelling to, how it's supposed to get there, and the best way to reach me at the local destination (example: V. Chiasson, travelling to Tatamagouch on AC #1234 on May 1 2014 - email email@example.com).
When I'm on a multi-step trip and moving around quickly, I'll leave out the destination bit and provide a second method of communication - like my cell phone or that of a trusted friend back home. This is plenty of information to connect you to your bag.
Plus, if your bag actually does get lost, you will be filling out long and detailed airline forms. Trust me, airlines will figure out a way to get in touch with you! (And don't worry about multi-lingual tags - this is one industry where English is universal).
Yep, even your carry on bag needs luggage tags.
Another reason savvy travelers put luggage tags on their carry on bags? Just in case you forget a bag in the overhead bin or it is accidentally innocently taken by another traveler, you might just be reunited with your stuff if your bag is clearly labeled.
An inside job
One of the leading causes of delays in returning lost luggage is that airlines can't find identifying information when they open up the suitcase. I always write my information down in bright marker on a sheet of white paper and place it on the top of inside my bag on top of my clothing. I also take a quick photo of the complete project - that way, if the worse does happen and everything gets lost, I can show airline staff exactly what my bag looks like, with its contents documented. It is the cheapest insurance you'll ever have!
Good tags + safe luggage = happy travels.
I'm always happy to help with all your travel questions! Keep them coming!
- Yep, "smart" electronic luggage trackers is a thing. I've never used one, but I found this nifty list reviewing different brands.
- Speaking of lists, I'm also fond of this one, which highlights the best designed tags in different styles.
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