Take a photo of your luggage before you fly

Packing top tips are plentiful — YouTube is awash with some great videos on how to roll clothes, or what order to pack your suitcase in. However, some genuinely helpful tips fly under the radar.

One of the best little-known travel tips is easy in today’s tech-driven world, simply use your smartphone to take a few photos inside and out of your luggage before you fly. This brief article explains why!

3 reasons to take a photo of your luggage

Snapping a couple of quick photos of your luggage takes absolutely no time at all.

First, what photos should you take?

  • A couple of photos of your items before you close the case
  • One or two of your case once it’s closed.
  • One with the handle up and ideally one closeup of the wheels.

If you wonder what benefit this is, let us explain with three great reasons

1. Lost luggage

The worst happens, and your luggage is lost or stolen.

After watching the empty carousel for far too long — way after everybody else has collected their luggage and left — you give up and march to the lost baggage desk.

We asked a veteran baggage employee at one of the busiest airports in the world, Londons Heathrow Airport, to describe to us how the conversation usually proceeds.

**Spoiler** 90% of customers have a black, medium-sized, spinner carry-on!!

Employee: How can I help you today?

Customer: My baggage hasn’t arrived.

Employee: I’m sorry to hear that, what does it look like?

Customer: It’s… umm a black, Samson… err Tumi thing I think.

Employee: What size is that?

Customer: A… it’s about medium-sized.

Iata baggage identification chart used for finding lost luggage

It’s at this point that wherever you are in the world you’ll more than likely be shown the IATA baggage identification chart, and asked to select your bag.

This is an international recognition chart, used by many airports around the globe to help locate luggage.

Not only will your handy photo of the outside of your luggage help identify your luggage and get the correct identification code associated with it, but it will also help where there is a language barrier.

2. Travel Insurance claims

When luggage goes missing, 8% of respondents said the items were never returned — it’s in these instances that travel insurance becomes vital.

Money supermarket, Travel Insurance
lost luggage on the tarmac is a good reason to photograph your luggage before you fly
Wait thats my bag!

Regardless of whether your luggage goes missing or is stolen, if you are one of the unlucky 8%, statistically you will never see your favourite underwear again!

In this instance your travel insurance or airline representative will ask you to fill out a detailed inventory of everything that you packed. Any by detailed, we mean shirt colours, numbers of socks, toiletries et al.

You might think that its easy to remember what’s in your bag, but just as an experiment, try to list absolutely everything you take on holiday on the spot. It’s almost impossible, and you’ll quickly realise why packing lists are so popular!

Not only will the open photo of your case provide you with most of the items and their colours, the visual reminder of packing will make it easier to recall the items you tucked away.

3. Airline damage

While airlines have improved significantly over the years, in any complex transit system, there is always going to be some outliers. Unfortunately, bags get dropped onto the tarmac, crushed by the sorting machines, or caught up in the many conveyor belts.

For those of us without airline proof luggage, after a particularly brutal trip your bag might need replacing or repairing by the airline.

crash baggage icon yellow airline proof luggage

Italian brand Crash Baggage solved the problem of airlines damaging new luggage by deliberately breaking luggage before selling it.


As anyone who’s dealt with claims departments before, claiming damage is not always an easy experience. Some airlines are better than others, but as a general rule of thumb, photos make it easier for everyone involved:

  • This is why it’s recommended to take a photo of the exterior of your bag, with the handle up and down.
  • Spinner wheels and handles are often the most frequently damaged.
  • Your quick snaps of the bags exterior will make the claims process faster, and having an exact before an after picture showing the wheels intact before your flight will convince even the stingiest low-cost airline claims department!


So as a quick recap, one of the quickest and easiest travel tips you can incorporate into your travel routine is simply taking photos of your luggage.

Breaking down language barriers, helping you maximise any insurance claim, and ensuring you can hold airlines to account if they damage your luggage. All this for 30 seconds of quick photos.

  • One or two photos showing the items you’ve packed
  • A photo of the exterior of your luggage
  • One photo of your luggage with the handle extended
  • One closeup photo of your bags wheels

While it is statistically rare to have your luggage damage or lost, you can never be too prepared!

photograph of luggage items with suitcase open for insurance claims
Snap a photo before you go away!