Getting there with your bags

December 21, 2009 8:41:37 PM PST
Year after year, more bags are mishandled in December than in any other month.The general consensus from fliers at LaGuardia Airport is use a carry-on. "Usually I do carry on. I never check. That way I have it with me all the time," Tommy Mangum said.

If you have to check a bag, they say have a back up plan.

"I have a big meeting tomorrow, so I carry on all my reading materials and I check my clothes. So if anything I can buy clothes, but I can't buy the materials I need to bring to the meeting," traveler Paul Pfleiderer said.

Passengers filed 1.8 million reports of mishandled bags with airlines during the first 10 months of this year.

Kelly Predmesky from STA Travel says her clients sometimes go to extremes to avoid a problem.

"We have some customers who arrive three hours early for domestic flights," Premesky said.

Travel experts say three things will help get your bags there on time -- planning, organization and punctuality.

Here are seven top tips:

1. Allow enough time between connecting flights.

2. Pack light. Oversize and heavy bags have a better chance of falling off a conveyer belt or being re-routed for manual sorting and extra security screening.

3. Make sure it's easy for screeners to open your bags.

4. Check in early, it minimize mix-ups.

5. Make sure you have bag tags with your name on the inside and outside of your luggage.

6. If you're packing gifts, don't wrap them. The foil in the wrapping paper could delay screening.

7. Do some research.

"You can ask your travel agent how that airline boards their planes. For example, United boards all their passengers with aisle seats last. So that could prevent you from getting your spot for your carry on bag," Premesky said.

And don't forget to pack your patience.

You never know when you'll need it.