Is there any way to ensure your luggage is fast-tracked?
There was an interesting short piece by Michael Gebicki on Traveller.com.au the other day, canvassing what flyers can do to help ensure their baggage comes off the carousel first.
His suggestion was that travelling in a class or with status credits that entitle you to a priority baggage tag might help.
In my experience, that only works a very small percentage of times. On a recent Hobart-Sydney flight with Virgin Australia, my clearly marked "Priority" bag was one of the last three off the plane.
And as baggage coming off international flights in Sydney and Melbourne generally takes at least half an hour to reach the conveyer belt, the advantage of being priority tagged is limited at best.
My tip is to go with hand luggage only whenever possible. Get off the plane, clear customers and immigration (if appropriate) and you are free and clear well before those passengers who checked their luggage.
I do this now on all trips of 3-4 days, although obviously it is not practical if you are returning from a fortnight in Nicaragua. When you check in, early or late, makes no difference.
Gebicki's piece pointed out that "exactly when your bag will come off the carousel is a roll of the dice. On a wide-bodied aircraft, checked baggage is loaded into cargo containers or "cans", big metal boxes that are transported as a single unit.
"Since weight distribution is a crucial factor in aircraft performance, the loadmaster will take account of the weight of each can and determine where it is placed within the aircraft's cargo bays."
No say. Random chance.
Gebicki says: "Some flyers suggest that identifying your bag as "fragile" at the check-in desk means it's more likely to be placed on top of other non-fragile items, and therefore ahead of the pack at the carousel."
That, however, is a little dishonest and having seen the way the Jetstar baggage crew dealt with all bags on a recent flight, also far from foolproof. Sometimes you'd almost think crew were targeting bags marked "fragile".