Lost Luggage? What to do before and after.

The following post is based on a Travelers United article by Charlie Leocha.

Three categories of lost luggage rules … before, during, and after travel.

Every traveler needs to be aware of the luggage rules that should be followed prior to traveling, during check-in and subsequent travel, then finally, upon discovery that their luggage has been damaged, delayed, or lost. Leoca suggests that, “Passengers who follow these rules have far fewer lost and delayed baggage problems and get top compensation from the airlines.

How can travelers reduce the chances of lost luggage? What should a passenger do if their luggage doesn’t arrive on the expected baggage claim carousel?

The basic lost luggage rules follow:

Plan for potential problems

Particularly for longer trips, travelers should use their carry on for essentials: a change of clothes (top to bottom), all prescription medications, and travel-size toiletries in a ziplock bag.

In most cases, airlines typically recover and deliver lost luggage within 24 hours.

Take photos

Travelers should take photos of the items they packed in their luggage to help provide evidence of loss if their luggage goes missing.

Verify that luggage will be transferred at connecting cities

This is typically a problem if the traveler is using airlines that partner with different alliances or are traveling on separately ticketed segments. For example, if your flight includes segments on both Delta and American, there is a good chance that you will need to claim your luggage at the end of the Delta segment and re-check it with American. Additionally, if you are continuing on with the same airline (same day, same city), but the segments are ticketed separately, you will likely need to claim your luggage and recheck it for the second segment. Ask the agent at check-in whether your luggage will be transferred or you will need to claim/re-check it.

Verify the destination

At check-in (whether curbside, self-service kiosk, or with an agent), visually verify that all your luggage is ticketed (or tagged) to the correct destination. Since the bag-tags will use a 3-letter code for the destination airport, make sure you know the correct letters for your intended airport. For example, the two airports in Dallas, Texas are Love Field (DAL) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). A traveler who is not aware of the 3-letter codes, can easily confuse DAL with DFW because DAL clearly means Dallas and he is going to DALLAS Fort Worth Airport.

Submit your luggage on time

Be aware of your airport’s guidelines for luggage submission. Frequently, travelers that use smaller airports think “My airport is small; an hour is plenty of time.” While that might be sufficient most of the time, it may not always be enough, and certainly doesn’t meet airline/airport guidelines. Also, keep in mind that TSA may randomly pick your bag off the belt, adding additional delays for your luggage.

Identify luggage inside and out

Few travelers put identification and destination information inside their luggage, but this small effort will be amply rewarded if your luggage tag gets torn off. Especially if you don’t know exactly what your luggage looks like — and many travelers do not (ask anyone who has stood in a lost-luggage line). So take a moment to note the luggage maker (TravelPro, Samsonite, Delsey, American Tourister, etc.). Also, take a good look at the color. Is it dark blue or is it black? Is that a stripe or a wavy line? Better yet, if you have a camera phone, take a picture of your bag before you hand it over.

Know the compensation limits

Compensation for lost/delayed/damaged baggage is $3,500 per passenger, not per bag. Be aware that you will not be compensated more than $3,500 even if the value of your contents is higher. Be thoughtful in how much you pack.

Fill out all forms at the airport

If your luggage doesn’t arrive at the designated carousel, know the next steps. Contact the airline personnel, who may be able to locate the item(s) through their tracking system. At that point, the airline representative should be able to estimate the time of arrival of your property. If you can wait, do so. If not, complete all the necessary forms so that the airline may deliver your property to the appropriate location.

Ask what the airline can do for you

Depending on the airport, the lost luggage representative may be able to do different, and typically unknown, things for you. For example, if the agent can see that your bag(s) will be delayed for an extended period (i.e., some hours or a day or more), they may be able to give you petty cash to get some necessities. If you are on your way to the ski lodge, you may be able to get coupons for rental clothes for the mountain so that your vacation isn’t delayed.

In the case of damage, the airline may be able to have it repaired during your stay … if you let them know of the damage.

Make a claim

If your luggage is actually lost, which is pretty rare, the airline’s liability in domestic cases is $2,800. In international cases, their liability is less. Be aware of any benefits that you may have through a travel insurance policy, your credit card, or your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance. It’s not a bad idea to make an itemized list (even photograph) of the contents of your luggage in case you need to make an insurance claim.

Again, though completely losing your luggage is rare, it does happen. More often, your luggage may be delayed. In either case, your plans will be disrupted, and the disruption may cause you financial harm. The better prepared you are and the more closely you follow the above suggestions, the more likely your damages will be reduced.

Visiting Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity?

The star marks the traditional location of Jesus’ birth in the basement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com/Todd Bolen

Over the last several years, the number of visitors at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem have grown to unmanageable sizes. This growth has caused many visitors to the church to leave before actually getting to visit the basement, the most desired destination in the church.

As a result of the growing numbers of disappointed travelers, The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism is developing a reservation app that is supposed to help reduce the wait time at the church.

For a more complete report on this development, see this article.

Are You a Windsurfer?

Are you a windsurfer? Interested in learning to windsurf? Let Discipleship Travel LLC arrange a windsurfing package for you in New Caledonia.

Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific. It is not only a nature lover’s paradise but also for watersports enthusiasts.

Windsurfing is one of the of the most popular sports in Nouméa, the French Territory’s capital. In fact, an international windsurfing competition called the Nouméa Dream Cup has been organized, attracting participants from across the globe.


Marriott Data Breach: What Should You Do?

Last week, one of the largest hotel chains in the world, Marriott International, Inc., announced that a massive data breach of its Starwood reservation system exposed the personal information of up to 500 million guests. Those who stayed at the chain’s Starwood brand hotels from 2014 through September 10, 2018 are affected. That’s four long years of data theft before the hackers were detected.

This is the fourth massive U.S. data breach since 2013, including Yahoo (3 billion accounts), Equifax (147 million consumers) and Target (40 million customers). The Marriott break-in not only exposed names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and credit card information, but rarer data too, including birth dates, gender and passport information from international guests.

While its credit card information was encrypted, Marriott indicated it’s possible that the hackers were able to steal the encryption keys, rendering the credit card data encryption worthless.

What’s Marriott doing for its guests?

Marriott has already set up an information page for the Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident. On the page they briefly explain the breach’s timeline and what data is involved. Marriott stated that among other actions, it’s working to quickly phase out the old Starwood reservation system. Marriott indicated that they started sending notification emails to affected guests last week. It will take a while to notify everyone. If you’re affected, Marriott has established a dedicated call center and they’ve arranged for affected guests to be able to enroll in Kroll’s Web Watcher fraud monitoring. It’s free for one year, but only available to customers in the U.S. Canada and the U.K.

What should Marriott customers affected by the breach do for themselves?

Check that any notification email received from Marriott is legitimate: With a breach this large there’s little doubt that malicious hackers will try to scam Marriott customers with phishing and other fraudulent schemes to harvest their personal information. Marriott’s email notification won’t contain attachments or requests for any information. Its links will solely bring affected guests to the Starwood Guest Reservation Database Security Incident page.

Sign up for Web Watcher: There’s no reason not to sign up for the free year of Web Watcher fraud monitoring, if it’s offered in your country of residence. Click on your country on the right side of the “Security Incident” page to get the “Enroll Now” link.
More from Travelers United: Make airlines liable for airline IT failures

Consider freezing your credit: You can freeze your credit for free. It will prevent anyone from opening a new account, taking out a loan, or obtaining a new credit card in your name. Freezing your credit won’t damage your credit score. You’ve got to freeze your credit at all three credit bureaus for it to be effective, so contact Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you find you need to take out a loan or get a new credit card yourself, you can lift the freeze for a limited time or for a particular entity.

What should every traveler do whether or not they’re affected by the Marriott breach?

Get a password manager: A password manager can create, store and automatically fill in your passwords along with other login information. You can store them for accessing websites, online accounts, etc.

Change your Marriott password: If you have both Marriott and Starwood accounts, it’s time to combine them into one account, then change your password.

Set a strong password and make it at least twelve digits long. According to How Secure Is My Password, using an eight digit password with at least one small and one capital letter, a symbol and a number would take a computer just four weeks to crack. If you just add four extra numbers, twelve digits total, it would take about 3 million years to crack that password.

You should use a different password for every website and account. Since you’re hopefully now using a password manager, that’s easy to accomplish, as is changing your passwords regularly.

Edit your Marriott profile: Put only the required information in your profile. Remove any other information. If your profile is breached, only the information there can be stolen.
Credit and debit cards are optional in Marriott profiles. If you enter a card for your convenience, make it a credit card. They have more consumer protection than debit cards. When you get to your hotel you can pay with almost any card, regardless of your profile.

Monitor your Marriott/SPG account and all financial accounts: You should always monitor all your financial accounts, looking for unauthorized activity and incorrect information.

User Responsibility: While extremely easy to use and convenient, online information storage and transactions make our personal and financial information vulnerable to criminal activities. It’s up to each one of us to take prudent measures to protect our identity and finances to the extent possible. The commonsense approach and actions outlined above for your Marriott account should be applied to all your online accounts for your personal and financial protection.

DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to be legal advice. The article simply serves as a suggestion of possible actions for those who may have been affected by the Marriott Data Breach.

Most Common Travel Related Accidents and Injuries

Travel Guard has published their list of the most common travel related accidents and injuries.

*Renting and using vehicles such as mopeds, Segways, jet skis or scooters without proper instructions.

*Drinking alcohol: Falls cause numerous injuries, and poor judgement in any situation can lead to an accident.

*Going beyond physical limits: If your knee hurts while walking the dog, it will hurt even more on when you attempt to cover Paris in one day.

*Falling during transfers on and off the tour bus, from dock to boat, etc.

* Riding or approaching animals.

*Ignoring existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Getting ill. (Wash your hands, a lot.)

*Taking selfies: Watch where you walk and remember that circumventing safety measures to get better pictures can lead to injury.

*Eating exotic cuisines that can cause stomach problems. Engaging in adventurous or strenuous activities with no experience—rock-climbing, challenging hikes, zip lines.

A travel insurance policy may be very helpful if you find yourself in one of the above situation.

To compare policy benefits or to purchase insurance click on the Travel Guard banner below.