I travel a lot and always get luggage and flight insurance with my American Express card because if something bad is going to happen, it's going to happen to me!
1. Allow plenty of time at the airport. Bags checked right before departure time may travel on a later flight.
2. Find the destination airport code on your ticket or itinerary, and make sure that the routing tag placed on your luggage at check-in shows the correct code. I had a bag going to SAN ANTONIO (SAT) instead go to SAN DIEGO (SAN) because I didn't do this. I am sure to check now.
3. Make a list of your itinerary, including hotel names, addresses and phone numbers, and the dates of your stay so that delayed luggage can be delivered to you. Keep a copy with you, and place a copy inside each checked bag.
4. Personalize each checked bag with a colorful luggage tag or strap, and take a quick photo with your cell phone or digital camera. Should your bag be lost or delayed, it will be easily described and identified. As I said in this post last month, another idea is to take a picture of your contents as well before you leave so that you have pictures and proof of what you took with you. I would never be able to remember exactly everything that was there for reimbursement (and know also that the limit of responsibility for airlines is $2800 including the suitcase itself if you don't have insurance)
5. Do not check valuables - carry them on board. Frankly if you do, you deserve to have it stolen!
6. Place a change of clothing in your carry-on bag. You'll have an outfit to wear and an outfit to wash should your luggage be delayed or lost. If you travel are traveling with another person, split up your belongings. When only my luggage was lost in Rome, I sure wished I had packed half the stuff in Craig's suitcase so that I wasn't worrying about wearing the same thing in all the pictures. Also, I would stink. Because additionally I packed the deodorant in the suitcase. Now I ALWAYS take deodorant on board, because there is a reason Roman men have a reputation for not smelling like roses and the $12 deodorant that DOES NOT WORK is it.
7. Lock your check-in luggage with a TSA approved luggage lock or strap. This is of course why Magellan sent me this email because SURPRISE they happen to sell these!!
8. Report any loss or damage before you leave the airport. Repeated DO NOT leave the airport without doing this.