The most important advice you can take is to simply pack light and carry on your bag. It takes away one possible bit of stress from your travel experience (and you get through the airport and out the door quicker). If you can’t do that then read my notes and tips from When good bags go missing.
“You must expeditiously go to the adjacent baggage claim office and report that your bag is not on the belt,” … If you check your bag in early enough, there are times when the carrier might put it on an earlier flight, say, if the plane has weight restrictions” and security measures are met. All passengers, he said, should have an accurate description of their bags — the color, the shape, the material, the make, any identifying characteristics such as a pink and green ribbon on the handle, and of the contents.
When you get your boarding pass and check your luggage, make certain you look at the baggage tag to verify the information is correct — something most fliers never do, but should.
Don’t think you’re going to strike it rich if your bag is lost. The maximum you can receive domestically is $3,000, a figure set last February by the Transportation Department.
Most bags are lost, for various reasons, when they are not transferred from one flight to another.
Put your name and itinerary inside your bag, maybe in a big envelope so it can be seen, suggested ATA’s Castelveter. If a baggage agent opens the bag, he’ll know immediately whose it is and where you are.
Check in early.
Do not pack fragile or valuable items – antiques, cameras, electronics, jewelry, medicines – in your checked bags.
Consider insurance. AIG Travel Guard’s coverage for a baggage and personal effects loss is $1,000. Check your own household coverage.
Ship your bag via FedEx or firms like luggageconcierge.com or luggageforward.com.