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3/07/2008 – Clear Baggage Identification – Revisited
While I have covered the topic of clearly identifying checked baggage in the past, both about what information to place on your bag, as well as clearly making your bag identifiable, I still frequently receive questions regarding this topic.
As I pulled the bag that contains my mobile lighting kit off the baggage carousel yesterday at Washington’s Dulles Airport (IAD) I thought I should shoot a few photos to demonstrate another very effective method of clearly labeling your baggage.
As any traveler knows the vast majority of suitcases being rolled through airports are black ballistic nylon bags. As you watch for your bag to come around the baggage carousel it is hard to look past the sea of black luggage; should your bag be delayed it becomes hard to describe your bag when you tell the baggage office agent that you are trying to locate your black ballistic nylon roller bag.
For me, when I travel with my lighting equipment it is critical that it arrive with me, or be able to quickly located by an airline and returned to me. While thousands of bags are separated from their owners annually never to be seen again, I’d find it impossible to believe an airline could misplace any of my bags given how they are marked……especially my lighting bag, which must be checked due to the size and weight of the bag.
Having had my lighting bag ‘delayed’ a number of times while connecting to the last flight of the night out of Philadelphia (PHL) into Providence (PVD) I became frustrated when the airline would often tell me they could not find my bag in the baggage facility (despite it being wrapped in bright tape, which was listed clearly in the description of my bag on the baggage forms), further delaying the bags return to me. Twice, when my lighting bag was delayed my luggage tags ended up becoming lost, once losing both my luggage tag and the checked baggage tag placed on the bag by the airline with my name, flight and destination information. While I have my name and contact info placed clearly inside my bags, airlines often only look for contact info as a last resort, if at all.
Rather than become subject to an airline’s inability to locate and identify my baggage all of my checked bags now have my name and contact information written or labeled in more than one location on the outside of the bag. This identification system is in addition to my luggage tag and the baggage tag placed on my baggage by the airline.
My lighting bag, a Lowepro “Pro Roller 2” is an extreme example of my exterior markings. The labeling of this bag is not only a huge deterrent to airport thieves, but it also makes it impossible for an airline to tell me they cannot locate my bag. Should my bag be accidentally transferred to another airline, or be placed in a baggage office, anyone can quickly and easily find the name and contact information of the owner (me).
What did I do to this one bag?
For starters on the front and back in bright yellow paint marker are large drawings of five cartoon fish. The largest fish is wearing a backward baseball hat; the second fish is the Susie Fish (Mom) and it has large sunglasses and a pony tail; following Susie is the Lauren Fish (my daughter) with a bow on it’s head; next up is the Max Fish (my oldest son) with a beanie & propeller hat; taking up the rear is a Little Simon Fish (the youngest) with a forward baseball hat on.
If ‘The School-of-Fish’ on the front and back of the bag are not a good enough visual aid to look for when writing out the delayed baggage form, hopefully they can find the name ‘FRISCHLING’ written on the to top in bright yellow with some ease. If for some reason my Fish Family and last name in huge capital letters are easy enough to spot, hopefully the cannot miss my full name written in bright yellow on the side and the back along, along with my phone number and e-mail address (never mind this bag, like my other bags being covered in bright Flamingo Pink duct tape).
I’m not suggesting everyone go out and make large cartoon drawings on their bags (unless you want to) however you should make sure to clearly place your name and a contact phone number in more than one location on the outside of any baggage you plan on checking.