Even the most seasoned traveller is not completely immune to that nagging sense of disquiet as they watch their carefully packed suitcase chug away down the conveyer belt after check-in. Whether it’s Louis Vuitton luggage or a backpack borrowed from your brother’s neighbour’s friend, your bag of choice is an important ingredient for the holiday of your dreams, containing everything you need to make the most of your trip.
Whilst a direct flight from A to B usually offers peace of mind that our luggage will tag along for the ride, a journey involving a connecting flight or two can raise the anxiety stakes a few notches. However, we believe that knowledge is power and armed with an idea of what goes on behind the scenes of the airport, after you check in your luggage, might just put any fears to rest…
First up is the check-in desk; a sight those that holiday regularly will be all too familiar with. Here, the airport staff will ensure that your luggage does not exceed the weight limitations for the flight and double check with you that you haven’t inadvertently packed any prohibited items such as batteries. You will also be issued with an identification sticker that matches the tag attached to your bag. Keep this safe as it comes with a barcode, unique to your bag, and a number which relates to your final destination and route.
Once the agent has processed your luggage, it’s time to bid it farewell and trust that your paths will cross again. Remember that at Heathrow, one of the UK’s busiest airports, 53 million bags are processed every year - the odds that yours will be the one to sink without a trace are relatively slim.
If the flight isn’t ready to begin loading yet, luggage may be transferred to storage temporarily before being prepared for the plane. This will involve security checks such as x-rays or even checks with sniffer dogs. At Heathrow, the bags are scanned with state-of-the-art technology that ensures they are stacked to make the best possible use of space as they are transported to the baggage handlers with their waiting containers. These are loaded up and used to move the baggage out to the waiting plane.
Transfer bags from connecting flights will be loaded into the baggage system along with the rest of the checked-in luggage. So, if your initial flight is delayed, leaving you with a tight window to hop onto the next, you might want to check with a member of staff that your bag had time to make its way through the system.
If you do show up at your destination, jet-lagged and ready to get out of the airport as quickly as possible, only to find your bag has gone missing - don’t panic. With such a huge number of passengers flying all over the world, now and again a stray suitcase can end up on the wrong flight or get left behind. However, there are procedures in place to deal with this eventuality.
Head to ground staff and file a report on your missing bag - the team will get cracking on tracking down where in the world it has disappeared too. To stand the best possible chance of retrieving your bag, ensure you always attach a luggage tag, complete with all your personal contact information whenever you travel. Additionally, pop another tag inside the bag with the same information, just in case the one on the outside becomes detached on its journey.
Whilst the vast majority of missing bags are found and reunited with their owners, there are the odd occasions when luggage goes missing for good. Purchase the right travel insurance policy for your trip to ensure your personal possessions are covered against loss or theft and you won’t be left too seriously out of pocket if this happens to you. Medical Travel Compared can help you compare a wide range of insurers to find the best deal for your money. Use our online comparison tool to get your travel insurance quote today.