-- G. Marton, Hamilton
A: There have been several times when I have arrived at my destination but my baggage has not materialized. After waiting at the baggage claim, I have eventually made my way to the airline service counter to fill out some forms (using the baggage claim number airlines issue to help track lost bags). Fortunately I have usually been reunited with my lost luggage a day later.
But travellers are not always so lucky and -- depending on the airline or the destination -- lost bags can sometimes end up in a variety of places.
In the United States, there is an Unclaimed Baggage Center (unclaimedbaggage.com) in Alabama. The size of a football field, this place is filled with lost items. Travellers see aisles, bins, and a seemingly endless run of clothes racks laden with apparel, merchandise and other goods. Ski poles, sunglasses and designer dresses are displayed as if on sale in a second-hand store. The company website reports that people from around the world have visited during its 40 years in operation.
Closer to home, when attempts to reunite unclaimed baggage with customers fail, airlines such as Air Canada send unclaimed luggage to a central baggage tracing office at Montreal-Trudeau Airport.
Then there's WorldTracer. More than 400 airlines use this company to trace lost baggage worldwide. Air Canada has a specific section on WorldTracer that you can access at aircanada.com. The airline also has a 24/7 toll-free help line (1-888-689-2247) where passengers can request information and check on the status of their baggage claim.
Here are some tips to help ensure your bags arrive when you do: Arrive at the airport early to allow enough time for your checked in baggage to be loaded into the aircraft. Ensure your luggage is properly identified with luggage tags. Don't lose your baggage claim tag.
Q: Do we need tickets to attend the Doors Open Edmonton?
-- M. Hamidi, Markham
A: Doors Open Edmonton shares the same concept as the Doors Open Toronto events, which allow free entry to architecturally significant buildings not normally open to the public. Edmonton's event is scheduled for July 3-8, and organizers say it will showcase many structures built a century ago during the city's great economic boom. For information on free guided tours and other events, visit the Edmonton and District Historical Society website in the coming weeks (historicedmonton.ca).
Q: In mid-April, my husband and I are visiting Myrtle Beach for the first time. Do you have any money-saving tips? What kind of weather should we expect?
-- M Foster, Cobourg
A: The weather picture looks promising. After a mild winter, with temperatures between 15 C and 21 C, the forecast is for a warm the spring. On the hotel front, expect some good deals as April is considered off-season. Visit the Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau office online (visitmyrtlebeach.com) and click on the spring vacation, getaways, packages and deals link on the home page. Once, there you will find more than 40 deals. Some examples include the Spring Early Bird Spectacular at Caravelle Resort or the Spring Splash package from Atlantica Resort with two free admission tickets to Ripley's Believe it or Not, and room rates from $69. For more travel information, call the Myrtle Beach CVB at toll-free 1-800-356-3016.
Q: Does Canada have any Culture Capitals this year?
-- J. Casey, Pickering
A: Calgary and Ontario's Niagara Region are sharing the 2012 Cultural Capital of Canada title this year. Calgary insiders say the city has plenty to brag about with new plays in development and the centennial of the Calgary Stampede. Expect a huge party in Calgary and across the province as westerners celebrate this unique event July 5-15. In the Niagara Region, the theme is Crossing Boundaries: Niagara's Creative Spirit. The lineup includes contemporary art and multi-media exhibits, 1812 bicentennial celebrations, a newly commissioned choral work, plus aboriginal, multicultural and francophone cultural events. For details, visit calgary2012.com and niagaraculture2012.ca.