3.5 million bags mishandled last year. Beat the odds.

Here’s a tidbit of news from Today Show travel editor Peter Greenberg — 3.5 million bags were mishandled January to November by U.S. airlines in 2006. No matter the reason, it happens.

Luckily, I’ve never had a bag get lost. Late? Yes. Lost? No. These days, though, more things are ending up where they are not supposed to be because of the airlines. It’s the volume of bags. More people are checking their bags instead of carrying them on in order to get their lotions, toothpaste and other liquids on the plane.

Greenberg’s luggage doesn’t get lost because he ships them ahead via FedEx. He said that the hours he saves not waiting for a bag is worth the money.

Here are highlights of the tips Greenberg recommends to help you keep track of your bag.

  • Put a name tag inside your suitcase as well since tags on the outside can get pulled off.
  • Take a picture of your bag so you can give a better description of what it looks like.

Here are tips from me:

  • Tie a bright ribbon on your suitcase so it stands out from the others. My mom found her bag in a huge pile in a storeroom this way. If you want a high brow look, here is a link to Wishing Fish.com luggage tags featured on Oprah and In Style. They are big and bright.
  • If you are going on a smaller carrier, take you larger carry-on bag with you to the plane’s door. At this point, your bag will be hand placed into the cargo hold and will be given back to you when you step off the plane. This method also works with strollers and car seats. At least it’s worked for me.

If your bag is lost, Greenberg advises that you get the phone number for the baggage claim office at the airport so that you can contact them to check up on your bag’s location. Otherwise, you’ll get the airline’s phone tree — and we know how that goes. Lots of luck with that.