When you arrive at baggage claim, there’s usually a line of people waiting to get their luggage out of the carousel. It seems like an eternity before you finally see your bag.
But if you’re lucky enough to have a first-class ticket, you’ll find yourself in a different situation. You won’t have to wait in line because you’ll be able to walk straight into the terminal and pick up your bags.
1. Your best chance of not waiting for your luggage is to be one of the last passengers to check their bags. Bags on planes are loaded front-to-back in order, so if you’re one of the later ones checking in, then your bag will go on a cart at the very end and off first when it’s time for them all to come back out again!
2. Another option is to gate-check your bags. Gate-checking is free, and not having to wait for your bag from the overhead locker means that you can get off of an airplane and to the baggage claim area quicker. For example, if your luggage is in a compartment near row 3 while you’re sitting at seat 7 then it takes time before everyone retrieves their bags so that yours will be available. The downside? You won’t have access to anything from inside your checked bag until after boarding has concluded – when they’re unloaded out onto the tarmac for loading into the plane’s cargo hold.
3. Imagine the feeling of relief when you see your checked luggage coming up on the carousel, and it’s not one that has been smashed all to pieces. When checking in at baggage claim, make sure to attach a “fragile” sticker so they know how delicate this piece is. Not only will this tag alert the baggage unloading team to handle with care, the fragile bags are usually also loaded last which means if you’re lucky enough then your luggage will come out first.
4. As long as your elite status of the frequent flyer club is associated with the flight booking, you can expect to be among the first suitcases off of baggage claim. Make sure that when purchasing tickets through an airline website or ticketing agent, they know about your frequent flier number so this happens for you automatically. For example, if you check your bag with American or United Airlines, the check-in counter will affix an orange priority tag to your bag.
5. So, assuming you are given the first in line at the baggage claim, how long does it take to get off a plane and get your luggage? Although this can vary greatly, most luggage will roll onto the carousels within twenty minutes of arrival.
You’re probably wondering why your bag still didn’t show up when you arrived at the baggage claim even if you used one of the tips above, and it might be because of how bags are handled by airlines. You see, some airline systems may load baggage differently depending on a number of factors like type or size of aircraft used to fly between destinations. These situations make it hard for you to predict if you are going to get your bag first. So while there are no guaranteed ways to game the baggage claim system except being a First Class passenger, you now have a deeper understanding of how to speed things up when checking bags at the airport.