Here’s What Happens To Luggage On Connecting Flights!

By James Smith
what happens to luggage on connecting flights
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When you take a flight, especially if you have connecting flights or layovers, it’s always a nice feeling to see your luggage when you reach your final destination. But for those of you have not flown, or for anyone who simply does not know, what happens to our luggage on a connecting flight? Do we need to recheck our bags throughout different stops, or will it go straight to our final destination?

The answer is usually that your luggage will be checked all the through to your final destination and that you can just stroll through to your next flight, knowing your belongings will arrive in your final destination with you. If your first connecting flight is international, this is when you’ll most likely be required to recheck your luggage.

When you check-in your bags, the airline will put a tag on it. This tag will have information such as the flight number, date, routing details, and number of bags. The routing label is what gives the airline workers the knowledge to put it onto the correct connecting flight.

What Does This Mean?

Your luggage will typically be checked through to your final destination, meaning it will be transferred at each stop along the way with you. So an airline worker will hopefully place your bags on your next flight each time you switch flights, and you can enjoy each stop worry-free.

Sometimes you will be asked if this is what you want, and in some cases, you may not want this. If no one asks you and you are not sure if your bags need to be rechecked, ask an airline worker. There are instances where you’ll need to go through checking again at your connecting flight, so be informed to avoid any stress that may come along with this.

If your connecting flight(s) is domestic (staying in the country), your luggage should be checked through to your final destination each time.

Say you have multiple flights, and your first stop is in a different country, you will have to recheck your luggage before your connecting flight in this country. After this, you probably do not have to recheck your luggage again, and it will go straight to your final destination.

Certain countries do require you to attend to your own belongings so make sure to look into the place(s) you are flying to.

Certain Instances Your Luggage Won’t End Up At Your Final Stop

Short-checking

Short-checking happens when your luggage is only checked through to your connecting flight. This is one reason you should ask a worker before you board your first flight. If this happens, ask to have your belongings checked straight through instead. It will save you possible frustration at the counter before your connecting flight, and you then time to relax a moment before boarding.

Layovers

Often times if you have a long layover, your luggage will not be checked all the way to your final stop, and you’ll have to recheck them again before boarding the next flight.

If the layover is overnight, it’s possible that you may want to have your belongings with you during that period. In this case, remember you’ll have to recheck them in the morning.

Different Carriers

If there are multiple different carriers on your ticket, it is very possible you may need to recheck your bags at connecting flights.

When your ticket has carriers that frequently work together through connecting flights, they will usually check it all the way to your final destination.

Lack of Time

If workers do not have enough time, possibly from delayed flights or layovers, the plane may take off before your luggage makes it onto the plane.

Stolen Luggage

Sadly, stealing of checked bags is something many have to worry about. Make sure to keep all valuables in your carry-on bag (if not against regulations). Always report your missing luggage, and the airline workers will do their best to find it for you.

Label Errors

Occasionally, the labels on luggage may become damaged or hard to read for many different reasons. In this case, the airline worker will not know where to send your things, so they may not end up at your final stop when you do.

Other times, the wrong label is placed onto your luggage, and it ends up on the wrong flight.

Human Error

It is possible that a worker simply may misread a label or place your luggage onto the wrong flight for different reasons. Although inconvenient, humans make mistakes, and you can take measures to track your belongings if you wish.

Will My Luggage Be Lost Because of These Errors?

Studies show that there is only about a 1% chance of your luggage being lost, so do not fret. If your bag does not show up at your final destination, report it to an airline worker within 24 hours.

After 21 days, your luggage will officially be counted as “lost.” If reported as missing, you can then claim compensation from the airline for your belongings. Airlines are required to pay for lost luggage, and you can claim up to $3,300.

If your luggage is found within the 21 day period, you may still very well be able to claim compensation due to delayed luggage.

How To Avoid Lost Luggage

Use the ID tags on your luggage, and if you do not have one, make sure to buy one. This will allow workers to get your belongings back to you.

Have your name and contact information in multiple places on your luggage rather than only on one ID tag.

Double-check that the routing label is correct on your luggage before boarding your flight.

There is technology commonly used to track luggage if you’re looking for more than an ID. You can insert a tracker into your bags to know exactly what is happening to them.

Only book flights with enough time between connecting flights for workers to transfer your luggage.

Research the specific airline to understand their luggage checking policies or ask workers if you are unsure about something.

Remember that if you miss a flight and your luggage was checked to your final destination, it will board the next flight without you if not taken care of.

You can take a photo of your luggage in case it gets lost, which will help tremendously in the fact that you won’t have to try to explain it to someone who has never seen it before.

Trackers For Your Luggage

There are different types of trackers to choose from if you’re wanting to go the electronic route. Some trackers are small and clip on like a dog tag, others are bigger and go right into your luggage. You can get a tracker that uses its own GPS, a tracker that connects to Google Maps, or one that connects via Bluetooth. Tracker apps are available for many different types of tracking devices, but not all. Certain trackers can you give updates every few seconds, so be specific on what you want when searching for the right tracker for your needs.

Carry-on Bag

Some people recommend only taking a carry-on if you are worried about losing your luggage or do not want to worry about the checking/rechecking process, etc. Others just simply need much more than what’s allowed in a carry-on bag.

Keep all of your important items and everything you may need in your carry-on bag. This means medicines, passports, jewelry, phones, and even cash. You want to also to have each item you’ll want to stay comfortable during your flight.

Carry-ons have to go through a security check, so if there is something you do not want to be embarrassed by someone seeing, you want to have this item in a checked bag.

If you plan on keeping a lot in your carry-on, remember that there are plenty of restrictions including weight, items you can and can’t carry, and how much of certain products. For example, you wouldn’t be able to hold full-sized shampoo/conditioner in your carry-on, as the limit on liquid or gel items is 3.4 ounces. Also, keep prohibited items in mind while packing your carry-on.

If you have room in your carry-on, add extra necessary items in case something does happen to your luggage on the way to your final destination.

Pros of Using Only a Carry-on

There is no checking or rechecking process if flying internationally. 

Saving money is possible with a carry-on, as the average fee for your first checked-in bag is $25, and some airlines even charge $45. Not to mention heavy fees of $100 or more for overweight bags.

You will not have to fear your belongings being stolen or lost. They’ll be with you the whole time.

There is no waiting around for your luggage to arrive after a long flight.

Pros of Checked Bags

There’s no worries about not being able to bring back purchased items due to carry-on weight regulations and more.

You do not have to struggle to cram your bag into full overhead storage areas, which is especially important during holiday seasons.

There is no limitation to wardrobe or other items you will want to bring. This means you can do less washing of outfits if the trip is more than just a couple days.

Packing winter clothes is not an issue as you can fit much more than you could if using only a carry-on. 

You won’t have to drag around an annoying carry-on if you’re in a long layover or waiting for a delayed flight.

Overall

There is no need to stress too much about luggage when traveling. Take the right measures to ensure your needs are met and that your bags can be tracked down when necessary.

If you have multiple bags going through checking, consider buying a tracker, and know when you’ll need to recheck your items.

Whether you are checking bags or taking a carry-on, know the airline’s policies and be prepared.

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Hi, I'm James Smith, I love traveling and always looking to optimize the traveling life to make it as comfortable and stress-free as possible. I especially love to nerd out about choosing the right luggage.