The only sure way to make sure your baggage makes it with you to your destination is to take it on board. Checking baggage to meet you at your destination does not always guarantee its safe arrival. However, it's not always possible to bring all your bags on board. The following are some factors that come into play when decided whether or not to check your baggage on a flight.
One factor that comes into play in determining whether or not to check your luggage on a flight is whether or not your trip entails any tight connections. If you're switching between flights with relatively little layover time before arriving at your destination, you may make it only to find your bags left behind. On the other hand, if you're rushing to make one flight after getting off another, then you might not want to be carrying a bunch of heavy luggage with you. If unsure, it's best to make sure the bag you are checking has nothing of heavy significance that you will need right away for a few days after your arrival, just in case. Bags slip through the radar and it is best to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
Are you going to have an extended layover period at some point during your trip? If you are, then you may not want to have a lot of luggage encumbering you. This can especially be true if you're going to visit one of the bigger airports. Some airports have been transformed into huge shopping centers with lots of things to do and see. Whether checking out the book store, dining at one of the restaurants or grabbing a drink at a bar, you may find it difficult to unwind while keeping an eye on all your bags at all times. If you just want to read a book at one of the coffee shops, however, then it may work for you to carry your belongings with you where you can just sit and watch them without having to worry about moving around much.
Getting All Your Bags On Board
If you want to see if you can get all your bags on board and aren't exactly sure what the policies are, you may just try to bring it on. Often baggage guidelines are not strictly enforced when there is extra room on board the flight or when it is a larger flight. Make sure to board early and be polite to the attendants. So as not to broadcast that you have more than one bag, you may try being discreet about it by draping a jacket over the extra bag. Also, try to consolidate your belongings as much as possible so you don't appear overburdened. If you are asked to gate check one or multiple bags, follow what they say. Sometimes it's better to ship your luggage ahead of you to your destination.