In a video shared by Ontario International Airport, a worker at the California-based airport revealed that old stickers stuck to a suitcase can cause luggage to be loaded onto the wrong plane. The baggage handler explained that previous stickers can be scanned by the machine, leading them to be sorted to the wrong area and “not get on the plane”.
“Let’s say you flew American and a month later you flew Southwest. Well, there’s a little sticker that goes on for American that tells the computer to go there,” he said. The worker then pointed off camera towards a conveyor belt further away, and pointed to a tag on the bag’s handle. “There’s a chance it scans [the old tag] instead of this one,” he added.
The travel hack sparked a lively discussion in the comment section surrounding travel tips. One user joked: “Who else leaves them on until the next flight for the desk to pull them?”
Another viewer called the baggage handler’s tip a “good PSA,” while someone else wrote: “Something I never thought about but makes so much sense.”
“I always assumed this was common sense. Airlines won’t even put new stickers on your bag until the old one is off,” one viewer said.
The video has since received more than 247,000 views and liked over 10,000 times.
Losing your baggage can be a bit of a nightmare, but according to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are “required to compensate passengers if their bags are damaged, delayed, or lost.” Although airlines may have different policies on lost items, if they fail to report lost baggage as lost after an “unreasonable” period of time, they can be subject to an investigation by the DOT.
In August 2022, US airlines lost, delayed or damaged 254,502 bags, according to a report from the DOT. The findings were released before a winter storm left over 2,700 Southwest flights grounded the day after Christmas, causing an “Armageddon of luggage” where baggage reportedly took hours to claim.
When passengers need to report their lost baggage, Jo Hoban - a travel agent based in Utah - told CNN Travel that she encourages clients to “take a picture of their bags because the first things airline offices will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the colour of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag.”
Passengers can also avoid baggage loss by either purchasing direct flights, travel insurance, or an Apple Air Tag - which enables users to track the location of their luggage via Bluetooth. Meanwhile, Insider suggested that travelers pack strategically to bring their necessities like “medication and valuables” in their carry-on bags.