The thought that comes to mind when I fly is how the airlines avoid losing so few pieces of luggage, considering the mountain of bags they handle daily. With these loads it's nothing short of a miracle that more luggage doesn't end up in Kuala Lumpur or someplace like Billings, Mont. During more than 25 years of flying, I can recall only four occasions when my bags failed to arrive on my flights. There are rules to follow, of course:
--Be certain to attach identification tags to your bags and place other tags inside your luggage so if the outside tag is ripped off, the airline can identify the contents.
--Jot down only your name, office address and telephone number on the tags and not your home address. Frequently thieves study bags being checked at the airports and burglarize the owners' homes while they're away.
--Make certain the airline baggage tags selected by the sky cap match your destination. During peak hours tags with the wrong destination can be mistakenly attached and that's when your luggage ends up in Cheyenne or Rapid City instead of New York and Honolulu.
--Don't place car keys, medication, medicine or jewelry in checked baggage. These items should be kept with you in a carry-on bag aboard the plane.
A final suggestion: List everything that goes into your checked luggage. Helps the airline to identify your bags if they are misrouted.
One of the year's best giveaways is the annual "Alaska Official Vacation Planner." The '87 edition (112 pages) contains maps, descriptions of destinations, addresses of hotels/motels, inns. Tells how to get to Alaska (by air, highway, rail, sea). Lots of basic information about fishing, hunting, camping, shopping. A calendar of events (page 30) describes month-by-month activities (sled dog races, ice golf, winter carnivals, a crab festival, a halibut derby, gold rush days, summer arts festivals, etc.). Dozens of airlines (both commercial and bush leaguers) are listed. Other reports on the state's popular ferry liners, car/camper rentals, packaged tours, chambers of commerce. Besides Alaska, details are provided on Canada's Yukon Territory. For your free copy write to the Alaska Division of Tourism, P.O. Box E-006, Juneau, Alaska 99811.
Baja by Camper
Elmar Baxter of Mexico West tells us RV rental companies won't generally rent their vehicles to travelers going to Mexico. Baxter searched and discovered one in El Monte that does. An eight-passenger van costs $294 a week plus 14 cents a mile. A 20-foot motor home figures out to $258 per week and 16 cents a mile. Something bigger (33 feet) is listed at $480 a week and 16 cents a mile. Contact El Monte RV Rental Co., 12061 E. Valley Blvd., El Monte, Calif. 91732. Dial (818) 443-6158.
You've got to be wacky over tennis to pay these prices, but here goes: Reserved seats (center court) for Wimbledon are on sale for $750/$1,350 a day for the '87 season starting June 22. Besides admission, your ticket entitles you to a champagne reception, lunch, afternoon tea, refreshments at the club bar, VIP parking and use of the Wimbledon Club opposite the main gate. The 13-day tournament opens with Boris Becker (1986 men's singles champion) and ends with the men's final on July 5. Details from TravelTix International, c/o Humbert Travel Inc., 400 Madison Ave., New York 10017 or telephone (212) 688-3700.
Travelers planning to visit New York during the holidays can buy discounted theater tickets at half-price booths at 47th and Broadway and No. 2 World Trade Center. The 47th/Broadway office opens at noon for matinee tickets, 3 p.m. for evening performances. Hours at No. 2 World Trade Center, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Half-price tickets for certain Broadway and off-Broadway shows can be picked up at the World Trade Center the day before.) In addition, coupons good for discounted tickets are offered by offices of the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2 Columbus Circle, and at Times Square. For details call the bureau at (212) 397-8200.
Carmel at Christmas
Highlands Inn in Carmel is out to snag families for Christmas. No charge for children staying with parents but this is still no giveaway. Rates are $190 a night for the five-day, four-night package. For your $190 bucks you get a spa suite with a wood-burning fireplace, a complimentary bottle of wine, cocktails, a couple of tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, use of bicycles. A tree-trimming ceremony is planned along with a cookie party for the kids and an eggnog party for grown-ups. Santa Claus will hand out gifts to youngsters and families will be given souvenir photos. Contact Highlands Inn, P.O. Box 1700, Carmel, Calif. 93921 or dial toll-free (800) 682-4811. The toll-free number outside California is (800) 538-9525.