How To Get Your Luggage At Baggage Claim Without Waiting So You Can Start Your Holiday ASAP

by Collette Reitz
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Traveling during the holidays can be very stressful. Between airport traffic and long check-in lines, you can wind up feeling less than full of holiday spirit when you finally arrive at your destination. Thanksgiving travel, in particular, tends to be extremely busy. To make sure you show up to grandma's house with a (mostly) genuine smile on your face, you'll need to learn how to get your luggage at baggage claim fast.

Of course, the easiest way to make sure that your luggage deplanes with you is to take a carry-on. Sounds simple enough, but with boots season and sweater weather, carry-on luggage can really fill up before you even get your toiletries in there (and sometimes you need more than three ounces of dry shampoo, you know). When you run out of room in the carry-on, checking a bag is your only option. When that's the case, your mission then becomes to do that as efficiently as possible.

According to Business Insider, there are few tips that might help you reunite with your checked bag not too long after getting off the plane. Given that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, it's important to shave time off of your travel day wherever you can.

One way to speed up your checked bag recovery is to ask the airline representative to put a "fragile" marker on your bag. This usually means that your bag will be loaded onto the plane after most of the other checked bags, which in-turn means it will then arrive at baggage claim before the other bags on the plane. An added bonus is that your bag will be treated as fragile — meaning less wear and tear.

If you want to forgo the "Fragile" sticker, you can always wait to be one of the last people to check their bags onto the airplane and benefit from the loaded-on-last-and-unloaded-first tactic. One caveat is that if you don't have an assigned seat with your airline, you could wind up in the dreaded middle seat. So, if your airline isn't assigned seating, you might just want to get that "fragile" marker — it could even lessen the risk of your highlighter palette being shattered to dust during transit.

Another way to expedite the retrieval of your checked bag is to ask if you can gate-check your bag. Gate-checking means that your bag is held in a dedicated area on the plane, and it's usually given right back to you as deplane. You'll want to check your specific airline regarding their gate-check policy, though, because some charge extra, and some still send your bag to the carousel once the plane lands.

While the aforementioned methods are likely to help bump up your spot on the baggage carousel, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure speedy retrieval of your checked bag.

Purchasing a business-class ticket means that beyond getting better in-flight amenities, you can also benefit from priority baggage handling, according to Condé Nast Traveler. Now, this does mean that you'll have to shell out a little extra cash, but you can decide for yourself how much it's worth to get out of the airport as quickly as possible once you land. And, hey, you might be able to forgo your $15 airport burger since you'll be flying in business class — I'm sure they have more than the peanuts and soda you're used to in coach.

Another way to make sure that your checked bags get extra-special treatment is to join your airline's frequent flier club. If you hold elite status with your airline, you should automatically receive priority luggage handling.

So, instead of stressing out about packing exactly three ounces of face wash looks in a carry-on, you can just throw everything you need in your checked bag. As long as you use these tips and tricks, you won't be waiting around all day for it in the airport.

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