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The Only Thing Worse Than the Airline Losing Your Luggage

You never expect your airport woes to be Trump-adjacent, but here we are.

It’s the moment we all dread. When, after a long flight and what feels like a lifetime standing anxiously at the luggage carousel, and it becomes clear that the baggage claim has nothing left to give. Your bag hasn’t appeared—isn’t going to appear. And while your first instinct might be to think, “Oh great, it’s probably halfway to Timbuktu by now” your suitcase might not be “lost” at all. The impetus behind your vanished luggage could be more malicious than garden variety human error.

Last Thursday, hotelier Dinesh Chawla was arrested and charged with stealing luggage off the conveyor belt at the Memphis airport. On August 18, Chawla, who had partnered with the Trump Organization (yes, that Trump’s organization) on Mississippi-based hotel projects, was seen in footage from the airport’s security cameras plucking someone else’s luggage off the luggage carousel, putting it in the trunk of his car, and then boarding his departing flight. Police found a second piece of luggage that had been reported stolen from the same airport on July 16. The luggage and their contents were reported as being valued at $2,599 and $1,300.

What Happens If Someone Swipes Your Suitcase?

Now that you have this new anxiety, there are some things you can do. For one thing, if you don’t see your luggage after waiting at baggage claim until all of the bags are gone just remember: When you hear hoofbeats, look for horses–not zebras. Check in with your airline, as many major carriers and airports have adopted sophisticated and automatic tracking systems and may be able to confirm whether or not bags made it onto the baggage claim-bound conveyor belt at all. But more likely than not, it was merely “delayed.”

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The thing about your oh-so-chicly minimalist bag is that it looks like everyone else’s chic, minimalist bag.

There are some preventative steps you can take from having your luggage taken off the carousel (as well as make it easier to track down if it is lost). One of the ways you can do this is by choosing luggage that’s as distinctive as possible. True, few things are better than feeling like you’re a celebrity that’s been photographed at LAX in your carefully chosen athleisure wear accented by a sleek, minimalist suitcase rolling behind. But the thing about your oh-so-chicly minimalist bag is that it looks like everyone else’s chic, minimalist bag. Go for something colorful and conspicuous instead. You’re much more likely to notice someone casually strolling off with your fire engine red spinner or fluffy unicorn backpack in your peripheral than a black suitcase in a sea of black suitcases.

You can also make sure that if your luggage does get stolen (or genuinely lost) you can have a general idea of where by using a GSM luggage tracker. Just place it in your bag and if it goes missing, you can simply pull up a corresponding app and have an idea of where your luggage ended up.

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