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Lost luggage: Everything B.C. residents need to know about air travel and baggage

The complete guide to packing your bag and keeping it.
Beyond travel insurance, Metro Vancouver travellers can ensure they keep their bags on long-haul flights in 2022 with Air Canada and other airlines.

Planning on packing for an overseas vacation?

You may want to pack light. 

While it has been difficult to travel over the past two years, the industry has been overwhelmed with an influx of travellers eager to return to the skies as border measures are relaxed in Canada and around the world. As a result, numerous flights have been delayed or cancelled, wreaking havoc at major airports. 

But it isn't only flight delays and cancellations that air travellers need to worry about. 

Many people have reported lost or extremely delayed baggage on long-haul flights, including a Vancouver man who said his trip to England with his young son was ruined after he didn't receive his luggage. 

On July 6, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) released a new resource for travellers who experience flight delays, cancellations, and baggage loss. 

The document outlines information about travellers' rights and what they should do if their flight is delayed or cancelled, according to the online Air Passenger Protection (APP) document. It also provides information on the steps to take if their baggage is lost, damaged, or delayed.

But air passenger rights advocates say the CTA isn't acting in the passengers' interests.

Travel in Canada and beyond: Keeping your baggage

The best way to prevent losing your luggage on a long-haul flight is by keeping it with you. Obviously, this may not be possible in all circumstances, particularly if you must pack a smorgasbord of options for a multifaceted travel experience. 

Ideally, packing everything you need into a carry-on bag will save you the heartbreak of having your luggage lost in transportation. Luckily, many international airlines include a carry-on bag in the price of a ticket as well as a personal item. Air Canada, for example, allows passengers to bring one standard article and one personal article on board, regardless of the destination. 

Some smaller or budget airlines charge for any luggage on-board, however. Swoop, for example, allows one free personal item but charges for any carry-on baggage and the prices increase based on the length of the flight. Similarly, Flair Airlines will also include a personal item but charges for carry-on luggage. The price varies if you purchase it online or at the airport, however. 

Packing tips: Strategy for stress-free vacations

Packing strategically is crucial if you want to keep your luggage in the cabin. Unfortunately, that means you may have to sacrifice multiple daily wardrobe changes on your holiday.  

The car rental experts at recommend that you wear your heavy clothes and shoes at the airport rather than jamming them into your luggage. You can also layer your thicker sweaters with a jacket and take them off on the plane if you get hot. 

The company also advises putting necklaces in straws to prevent tangling and placing dirty shoes in shower caps. 

"Travellers should plan ahead and make a list of the items they need," a spokesperson said. "Easy tips for saving space include only taking the essential toiletries and decanting items like shampoo, conditioner and shower gel into small travel bottles."

Another great way to save space is by rolling your clothing. While folding clothes may seem like the natural way to pack, rolling some items saves a great deal of room. You can also stuff some items into hats or use packing cubes to maximize room. 

Deciding on outfits you'd like to wear is a helpful way to cut back on unnecessary "extras." Consider full outfits you might like to wear for each day or event of your holiday and pack accordingly. You likely don't need that third pair of pink shorts (unless that's your trademark — then pack bubblegum hues galore!)

Travel insurance is key 

InsureMyTrip travel insurance expert Meghan Walch says airlines will often exclude valuable items from coverage, such as electronics. Depending on the insurance provider you choose, you may receive compensation for these items. 

"Take photos of the items in your luggage to know what you packed and what may have been damaged, lost, or stolen," she explains. 

After you reach your destination, many insurance policies may also cover you while you are staying in your accommodation or on a tour; airlines will not cover you once you have received your bag. 

Insurance policies may also offer you more spending money if your luggage is delayed.

Dr. Gábor Lukács is the founder and president of Air Passenger Rights (APR) — a group that gives airline customers information about their rights so they are capable of enforcing them against airlines. 

The APR website has a resource that travellers can reference for guidance on what to do if their baggage is lost, delayed, or damaged.