One of the first things we tend to do when arriving home from a trip is toss our checked luggage down, unzipping zipper seams which are holding on with every last strength of their fiber. Prior to your next trip you’ll likely rip off any previous baggage tags that are hanging around your bag handles but might not notice the smaller bag bar codes stickers somewhere on the side or underneath. It’s those nondescript tags that can have your bags going to the wrong place or delayed, so they’re not with you upon arrival at your final destination.
Little Tags Can Make A Big Difference
Anyone who’s flown anywhere commercially is familiar with the large baggage tags that airline employees rapidly stick to one of your bag handles or straps at check-in. Those bags contain your destination airport code, any connecting city codes, as well as flight numbers. There’s also a bar code on the sticker which contains that information and provides real-time tracking as your bags get scanned from one place to the next. Off of that same baggage tag there’s often a smaller sticker with the bar code only, called a “bingo” tag, that’s placed somewhere else on your bag.
The bingo tag is there as a backup in case your other bag tag somehow get detached; that’s called a “tag-off” and only occurs in 3% of lost luggage cases.
Bingo Tags Help Prevent Lost Luggage Only If They’re Not From Previous Flights
Problems can occur when those bingo tags aren’t removed – easy to miss because of their small size and the tendency for them to be stuck to the bottom or side of a bag. Those tags might be scanned by baggage handlers or automated devices (depending on the airport) confusing the system. Such confusion can often lead to a delay while your bag’s information is double-checked (under good circumstances). That might not be a problem in many cases but if you’ve got a short layover, it can mean your luggage misses your connecting flight, even if you don’t.
In bad circumstances, poorly designed automated scanners or careless baggage handlers might actually send your luggage to the wrong destination. And the more connections a piece of luggage has to make, the more likely it will get lost along the way.
Turn Tag Removal Into A Travel Ritual
Airline staff at check-in counters are trained to remove all of your previous bag tags, however, when things get busy (or for self-check-in) that might not occur, so it’s best to do it yourself on a routine basis. For many people, that can be right when you get to the place you’re staying or coming back home to. Though an alternative is to remove the tags as soon as you clear customs. Your baggage tags say a lot about you – where you came from, that you’re arriving from an international location, oh you took business class, how fancy – all of which can potentially draw unwanted attention to you when you arrive in town. If you’ve got a habit of getting lost as I do or have a ways to walk from a subway station, removing baggage tags – not forgetting the bingo tags! – at the airport might be the routine to form for you.
Finally, if you’re bags happen to get lost, here’s how you can best recover lost luggage and how to track and find your stuff if it gets stolen or lost.