Some tips for reducing your changes of losing your luggage:
_ Before your bag disappears behind the ticket counter, make sure the airline's tag has your name, flight number and final destination.
_ Place a copy of your flight itinerary inside your suitcase with your cellphone number and the name of your hotel in case the tag is ripped off.
_ If you can't live without it, don't check it. It might take days to return a lost bag. Don't pack medication or outfits for tomorrow's meeting or wedding. Never check valuables such as jewelry or electronics.
_ Make your bag stand out. A bright color or print _ or something tied to the handle _ prevents somebody from accidentally taking it at baggage claim.
_ Prepare your carry-on bag as if it will be checked. You might not have planned to check your bag, but given today's crowded overhead bins many fliers don't have a choice.
_ If your bag doesn't arrive, file a claim before you leave the airport. If on a cruise, give your itinerary to the airline so your luggage can be forwarded to the next port.
Sources: Airline officials, travel experts.