How to Prevent An Airline From Losing Your Luggage & 5 Things Never to Pack in Your Checked Bag

I’ve become an expert at what to do when an airline loses your bag, as you guys know if you’ve been watching my instagram stories. Mainly because it has happened to me WAY TOO MANY TIMES!!! It’s infuriating, and so stressful when it happens, but I’ve learned that there are some easy things I can do every time I travel to make sure my essentials are in my carry-on and that I’m prepared for the worst.  (And if the worst happens, I have a ton of tips on What to Do When an Airline Loses Your Luggage and how to make sure the airlines to compensate you WELL for the hassle, here!)

While you can’t predict if an airline will lose your checked bag, there are a few key things you can do to minimize your chances of an airline losing your luggage:

How to Prevent an Airline From Losing Your Luggage

1. Keep your itinerary simple, and with one airline

I’m often a sucker for a deal with multiple airlines, but if you’re going somewhere important, make sure to stick to one airline, and a simple itinerary without short layovers. When you involve more than one airline, it becomes easier for them to blame one another if your bag doesn’t make it, and makes it way harder to find your lost bag.

2. Use a smart bag tag

You guys this is a game changer. I got one after the last time an airline lost my bag and it has helped me have peace of mind ever since. You can shop it on Apple here and then you can literally track your bag yourself, so you don’t have to drive yourself crazy with the old-school tracker websites the airlines give you.

3. Check In Early

When you check in late – whether you arrive at the airport with only minutes to spare or get held up in a never-ending check-in line – you’re more likely to get separated from your bags, since the airline’s baggage handlers need time to process luggage and load it onto your plane! Many experts say that 30-40 minutes ahead of departure is the absolute cut-off, but it all depends. In our opinion, the earlier you can check in, the better.

4. Consider Shipping Your Bags Instead of Checking Them

It may sound a little crazy. But it’s not. By shipping your luggage, you diminish the chance that it’ll get lost, and you also avoid costly overweight, oversized, and checked-bag fees. This is why a lot of brides who are doing a destination wedding choose to ship their dress, guest goodie bags, or other necessary things for the wedding, rather than lugging everything in checked bags. It also works for bachelorette parties who may want to ship decorations, bachelorette party goodie bags, etc ahead of time to the bachelorette party destination.

To give some perspective, American Airlines charges $100 for checked bags weighing more than 50 lb. on any flight within the U.S. Whereas, UPS charges $66.24 to ship a 55-lb. bag from Los Angeles to Chicago. While it takes longer to arrive (about 4 days, or faster if you want to pay more), if you plan ahead this can be a great solution to save money and be able to track your bag. 

If you follow these steps, you’ll likely be able to avoid an airline losing your bag. But, just in case, and for some extra peace of mind, make sure you pack an Apple air tag in your suitcase (so you can know exactly where your bag is), and follow the following steps as well:

5 Things to Never, Ever Pack in Your Checked Bag Just In Case the Airline Loses Your Bag

Valuables & jewelry

A simple rule of thumb is that if you can’t live without it, pack it in your carry on. It’s always going to be safer, and you’ll feel more at peace. Also, an airline can only compensate you up to around $3000 total, even for a permanently lost bag. So keep that in mind. 


This one goes without saying, but if you have any medications you’ll need, you should absolutely never check them. 

A couple outfits that will get you few your first 2 days

It’s important to be prepared that your bag may be lost (If it is, follow these steps to get your bag back if it’s lost by the airline!), and that means having a couple outfits that aren’t your plane clothes. 

Any special occasion outfits you may need

If you’re attending a black-tie wedding in Barcelona, or a tropical wedding in Hawaii, you are going to need your outfit for it! And the last thing you want to do is have to buy a whole other wedding guest dress and shoes. So make sure you pack any essential special occasion outfits in your carry on. 

A swimsuit!

At least if you’re going somewhere tropical! I always, always pack one of my favorite bikinis in my carry-on just in case. 

Makeup and toiletries

Replacing a girl’s entire makeup kit is COSTLY, and annoying. Which is why I keep all of my skin and beauty essentials in my carry on (except for the larger liquid bottles, of course.. but I usually avoid needing those by using my GoToobs

Cash, credit cards, your passport and travel documents

I don’t think any of you around here are new to the whole traveling thing.. but this one is a no-brainer. Pack it in your carry-on. 

And, if you’re looking for the best carry-on’s that will fit all of these essentials, check out my blog post here:

The Best Carry-ons for Travel

And check out my other related blog posts here:

The 20 Travel Essentials You Need to Travel Like a BossJetset Christina

What to do when an airline loses your bag


My favorite go-to skincare products for every-day protection and hydration



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Christina is a leading luxury lifestyle and travel blogger with over 2 million readers. Follow her on instagram @jetsetchristina.