Keep important things in your personal item!

There are so many horror stories out there of people putting critical items in their suitcase that gets lost by the airlines. Even if you plan to carry on your suitcase, plans can change at the last minute and necessitate a checked bag.

Last week a colleague had to fly to California, but due to weather her flights were cancelled and she was rebooked. She was one of the last to board her flight, which meant the overhead bin space was full and she had to check her suitcase. She remembered to grab her medication but didn’t get her glasses or any spare contacts.

Sure enough, the airline sent her bag to the wrong place. Most people who wear daily contacts can just rewear them a second day (even if it’s not ideal) but my friend is recovering from a bad scratch on her eye and was supposed to be extra cautious. Luckily she was able to get ahold of her eye doctor who called a local colleague that gave her a spare set of daily lenses. And her bag showed up about an hour later. Phew!

This is a good reminder to keep the following items in your personal item, just in case your suitcase has to be checked:

  • Glasses and contacts
  • Medications
  • Keys
  • Cash
  • Passport and other ID

Also, this is a good reminder to be aware of your company policy with regard to suitcases the airline has lost. The airline should give you a certain amount for each day your bag is missing, but often companies will go beyond that.

Readers, anything I missed that we should keep in our personal item? Any horror stories to share?


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  1. Snacks and powdered drink beverages are usually in my personal item. I have been started in airports with closed concessions too many times . . . . Also, on trips abroad, I usually keep an extra full or partial change of clothing, but always keep at least one extra change of underwear.

  2. I was in a similar situation just this morning. I used the same bag rolling duffle that I always carry-on, only to have a check-in staff tell me if it didn’t fit in the little metal box, I’d have to check it. I was dumbfounded. I’d had this bag at least 10 years and had only been forced to check it once (very tiny plane).

    Fortunately, this time I was able to speak with a manager and I didn’t have to check it. But you brought up an important issue, since we may not be expecting to check a bag and aren’t prepared.

  3. My Aunt was on a flight the other day which went way long due to headwinds (quite common in Australia), and when they arrived, they were informed their luggage wasn’t there because it had been offloaded in favour of fuel!! And of course, she’d made the rookie mistake of putting her meds in the checked luggage.

    (and yes, there were airports along the way where a plane that size could have landed and refuelled rather than leaving people’s luggage behind. Actually there were lots of them)

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