Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Airline Baggage - Beat the Odds

In Airline Baggage Roulette, Travelers' Odds Are Getting Worse - It won't be long before one of your bags fails to reach the same destination you do when you travel by air. The machines reading the bar codes on those stick-on luggage tags are lucky if they hit 90% accuracy on a good day. There are fewer baggage handlers to catch the mistakes and they are moving more luggage (security regulations have discouraged carry ons) in less time (airlines have shortened turnaround times to get the most value from their planes). The result, someday soon you will be in Peoria while your luggage heads to Pretoria.

What can you do? Let's start with the obvious. You are relying on an overworked baggage handler to save the day when the bar code reader strikes out. Make it easy - stick large day-glo signs on the outside of your luggage with a simple message in big block caps: "TODAY IS NOVERMBER 21, 2007. I'M GOING FROM NEWARK TO LOS ANGELES VIA DALLAS." Even the most frenzied baggage handler might notice something amiss if he's loading your suitcase on a plane to Chicago. This could start a trend - a line of luggage with brightly hued dri-marker ready panels on four sides. Let the chic lose their Louis Vuitton, your ABCs with Bert & Ernie Baggage will never leave you. Before long Samsonite will introduce a motion activated, programmable luggage tag that announces your destination each time the bag is moved. The baggage handler will have a shot at success even when your luggage is buried in the middle of a mountain of luggage going the wrong way.

Now, suppose your spouse has a hideous avocado suitcase that's been kicking around since college graduation and a wardrobe of missized clothing that screams it wants to visit Alaska while you head for Hawaii. Success begins at home. Make sure there is absolutely nothing in this bag that connects you to it or it to you. Stuff it to the gills, you want to get to 55 pounds and pay an overweight charge to build a record of the magnitude of your loss. Find an obscure travel decal for the outside of the bag - "DENALI - Where Big and Tall Is More Than a Men's Store". Now comes check in and the key to success, be sure to smudge that bar code in the brief moment before your burnt orange beauty is shifted to the conveyor belt, apparently it does not take much to confuse the automatic bar code readers. Take some time during your flight to practice stunned silence followed by deep disappointment for conversation with baggage clerk in Honolulu.

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