5 Ways To Get Your Bags To Arrive First At Baggage Claim

by SharonKurheg

More often than not, the one thing you want to do more than anything after your plane lands is getting to your destination. Unfortunately, unless you’re on a really short trip or have packing superpowers like this woman and can fit everything into a carry-on and a personal-sized bag, you have to wait for your luggage to arrive at baggage claim before you can finally leave the airport.

First, you have the wait until the conveyor belt starts moving and then you have to wait for your bag to make it out. It always seems like the more anxious you are to get your stuff, the longer it takes for it to finally come out (although Delta & Alaska will pay you if their bags are late in getting to you. Well, unless they use one of their loopholes).

However, there are a few tricks that will (or at least may) help your bag or bags come out first.

Travel Business or First Class

Those who pay for the better seats get better service, including the perk of their stuff coming out before other people. This is, of course, one of the most expensive ways for your bags to come out first, but I didn’t say all of these ways were free…just that they were ways to potentially have your bags come out first ;-).

Have Status

It’s another “not cheap” way to get your bags to come out first, but if you have elite status in an airline’s frequent flyer program, you’ll be considered more of a VIP in the airline’s eyes and you’ll have a tag to put on your luggage that will get your stuff out before many other peoples’.

Gate Check Your Bag

Gate-checked bags are among the last to be loaded, which means they should be among the first to be unloaded. Usually. Sometimes. Unless you’re working with an airline, airport or baggage handling system that uses a different system.

Oh, and if you have a stopover the whole “gate check your bag” trick won’t work – your gate-checked bag will get added to the mix of bags that are going to your final destination.

Last One In, First One Out

This one totally messes with my insistence on being habitually early. But just like gate checking your bag, if you check in with little time to spare, your bag might be among the last to be loaded onto the plane – and therefore among the first to be unloaded. Well, theoretically. Again, some airlines, airports or baggage handling systems do things their own way.

Get A “Fragile” Sticker

This one is definitely “working the system.” But try asking for a “fragile” sticker for your checked bag when you check-in. Fragile bags are (supposedly) loaded last so other bags don’t get thrown on top of them, squish them, etc. And that technique, if it works, could even work all the way to your final destination if you have a stopover.

Of the five, only the first two will guarantee that your bag(s) will be some of the first to come out. But if you want to take a shot with the other three, hey, it can’t hurt, right?

Feature Photo (cropped): Ptrump16 / Wikimedia / CC-by-SA 4.0

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Chris June 15, 2021 - 9:00 pm

Scamming the system, much. Wouldn’t Ms. Karma be watching?

SharonKurheg June 15, 2021 - 9:42 pm

I’ve never done any of them, TBH (save for when we’ve occasionally flown first class). I also said straight out that last one would be “working the system.” We don’t ever skiplag either, but we’ve written about it. {shrug}

derek June 16, 2021 - 12:24 am

With Alaska Airlines, I want my bags to come out last so that I can get a $25 or 2500 mile certificate!

Jinxed_K June 16, 2021 - 2:53 pm

Make sure the agents tag all of your checked bags with the priority tag if you fly First/Business or have it as a status perk.
I’ve had one bag tagged and another checked box not tagged… tagged bag came out first, the untagged box came out last on the belt.

BeantownFlyer November 5, 2022 - 2:25 pm

Err unless it’s a large plane with bags loaded in containers, if you bag is loaded last, then it gets unloaded first and put on the bottom of the cart with all the other bags stacked on top. Definitely not making it onto the belt first. As for first/business/elite tags – I get them all the time. All they mean is “we are supposed to unload that bag first”. Actually happens maybe 50% of the time.

John November 5, 2022 - 8:37 pm

“Vip” & first class and business bags get tossed in the same luggage carts that stay at the aircraft til all the bags are unloaded. VIP/Business/First bags are just a prone to being misrouted or lost as any bag.

I Love Dan November 6, 2022 - 5:43 am

This. I fly 100+ segments a year. I have Diamond status on Delta. My bags always get priority tagged. The bags come out in a totally random order EVERY-SINGLE-TIME. I have videos of the first 100+ bags coming out – none of them have Sky Priority tags. The baggage handlers unload them as they get them. Status theater. I’ve arrive late, I fly first, I have status. I have fragile Pelican cases. It’s totally random.


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