You’re cutting it too close
While folks love to bitch about the airlines, the primary reason your luggage gets lost is probably your fault. It's always user error, right? You needed to get to the airport earlier.
Depending on that airport and your destination, airlines shut down flight check-in anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes prior to a scheduled departure. And in order to keep flights on time, it’s common now for airlines to begin boarding flights BEFORE the check-in cutoffs take effect.
According to American and American Eagle pilot Todd Simoneau, flight crews are on strict schedules and the long hours pilots work mean they don’t want to wait around any longer than they must. “For many airlines, pilots don’t get paid until the aircraft’s door is closed and they’re away from the gate,” Simoneau said. So, while pilots might wait for a passenger making connections, they won’t wait for bags.
Obviously, if you check in for your flight too late, you flat out won’t get on the plane. But check in too close to that drop deadline, and your luggage risks not flying with you. Airlines have the right to refuse to check your bags, forcing you to take them through security. Otherwise, if they’re checked and don’t make their intended flight, your bags will fly on the next scheduled aircraft to your destination. The airline must offer you the choice to pick it up later or have it delivered to you at the airline’s expense.