You'd like to think that there was no possibility of passengers becoming separated from their bags; the Pan Am jet was destroyed by a bomb on the plane even though the person who checked it in was not on board. But judging by recent events, airlines cannot guarantee that every piece of luggage on a flight has its owner on board.
Earlier this month, British Airways apologised to hundreds of passengers whose bags went astray at Heathrow. This luggage followed, unaccompanied, on other flights. Nancy Watters of Belfast is one of dozens of Independent readers who have written with an account of the upsets caused by what a BA spokeswoman called "operational baggage difficulties".
Skiing operators explain carefully in their brochures that there is a chance your skis will not accompany you. For example, Neilson says: "Passengers who pre-book carriage of their skis are guaranteed that, if they do not arrive on their flight, the booking fee will be refunded and the skis forwarded to the resort at no extra cost."
Most air travellers would be happier if more attention were paid to prevention, rather than cure.