An Easy Way To Check If Your Luggage Is On The Plane

by SharonKurheg

U.S.-based airlines lost nearly 3 million pieces of luggage in 2019. That’s…a lot. True, there was much, much more luggage that they didn’t lose, but still…three million!

Years ago, we had little control over knowing where our luggage was. Either it showed up on the luggage carousel or it didn’t, and if it didn’t, you put in a claim with the airline, they searched for it, it was usually found and delivered to wherever you were.

Nowadays, there’s more technology to help airlines keep track of luggage. Some airlines’ apps have technology so you can track your luggage. You can also buy your own smart luggage tracker that uses GPS to tell you where they are.

But what if you’re on an airline that doesn’t have that kind of technology? Or what if you don’t want to spend $20-$30 on a tracker?

There’s actually a free and easy way to see if your luggage is on the plane.

Ask the gate agent.

You know that sticker you have from when you checked in and dropped your luggage off at the airline desk? The same barcode is on the luggage tag airline rep attached to your bag’s handle. The airline scans that one so they can keep track of your bag(s).


If you ask the rep at the gate to scan your copy of the bar code, they should be able to tell if your luggage made it onto the plane or not.

There are admittedly few caveats to this:

  • Don’t wait to ask as they’re checking people onto the plane. Do it when they’ve arrived at the gate and are settled, and be polite about it (they don’t “have” to do this for you so ask when it’s convenient for them. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar).
  • If you have a stopover, ask the reps at that gate too, to ensure your bag makes it from Plane A to Plane B.
  • If they say the bag isn’t on the plane, don’t panic! It could just mean that it’s on the truck, getting ready to be loaded onto the plane.
  • If they say the bag isn’t on the plane, THEN is not the time to ask them to find out where it is, or to start looking for it; they have neither the time nor the resources. That will have to happen when you get to your final destination when you can find airline employees who do that for a living.

What if your bag is lost?

Click here to learn the airlines most likely to lose, misdirect or damage your luggage (and what to do if it happens to you).

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


christ February 27, 2020 - 9:21 pm

if you can’t do anything about it at the gate and anyway have to wait until you reach your destination, what’s the point of finding out at the gate?

SharonKurheg February 27, 2020 - 9:37 pm

It gives you time to plan your next move. To know to go immediately to the lost baggage department, and avoid a queue there, instead of waiting for luggage that might never come on the carousel.


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