I also grew accustomed to always getting it back… eventually.
But, during a move across the county, I packed two very large bags, checked them at curbside (and yes, I did tip) and never saw them again.
These bags didn’t hold anything of particular value but they were full of items I didn’t expect to loose.
Filing claims and contacting the airlines over the course of several weeks was a real eye-opener for the ridiculous bureaucracy of corporate airlines. After filling out several forms, they offered a compensation check for the value of the used goods they lost, which was no where near the cost it would take me to replace the missing items.
But along the way, they had me describe the items within the bags in the hopes of identifying my bags through their contents- a bag still having its tag is why most bags eventually find their way to their destination so they could only assume my bag was no longer identifiable from the exterior.
It had been suggested to me previously that you should always keep a luggage tag on the interior of your bag. I had always thought this was a silly suggestion but after loosing my luggage it started to make some sense. If your bag lost the tag on the exterior, an interior tag is a good back-up. It also removes the need to try and identify a bag by its contents since a tag makes it very clear who the owner is.
But paranoia started to set in and an interior tag wasn’t enough for me. So now I also include a large piece of paper with my identifying information and flight number right on top so it is the first thing one would see should my bag have to be opened.
So far, I’ve not lost a bag since…