Posted by: MAD Change | November 9, 2009

How Safe Is Your Luggage?

Earlier this week, a couple from Phoenix, AZ were arrested for stealing over 1,000 pieces of luggage.  It seems as though the couple had been taking bags off the baggage carousel for over a period of a year or more.  My first reaction to this breaking news this week was “it’s about time”.  This type of crime wasn’t really that hard to believe considering that most carousel areas in airports have very little security.  I’ve often wondered,  while waiting for my own baggage to appear on the conveyor belt, what prevents someone from pulling luggage off that doesn’t  belong to them? In fact, I think I’ve accidently pulled luggage that I thought was mine. Fortunately, we were aware of this before leaving the airport.  But if it’s happened to me, I’m sure it’s happened to you so I thought I’d post some simple tips to help avoid luggage mishaps:

  1. Go directly to the airline’s customer care desk if your luggage doesn’t come off the carousel- It’s a horrible feeling when there’s only a few pieces of orphan luggage that have been going in circles around the conveyor and yours is not one of them. 9 times out of 10, your luggage  has simply missed the connection. Now a days, most carriers will have your bags delivered within 24 hours of arrival.
  2. Try to be down to the carousel prior to luggage coming off  – You should always try to make it to your assigned carousel before baggage handlers start unloading luggage from the plane. This way, you’ll eliminate the fear of missing your baggage.
  3. Claim a good spot to stand around the carousel –  Oftentimes, especially when traveling with a group, we choose someone to be luggage “pullers”. You know how crowded it can be around the carousel.  Have someone be the “pullers” while the other stands out of the way keeping all pieces together.
  4. You want to make sure your luggage only circles around once –   Most  carousels move clockwise, so find yourself a place to stand at say the “1 o’clock”  position.  In doing so,  you’ll reduce the chances of your luggage circling more than once.  The more times your bag goes around, the better the chances someone can pull your luggage. Shady people, such as the couple arrested this week,  scope out those pieces that are making several trips around the conveyor because they think the owners are not around.
  5. Mark your luggage clearly – Get yourself one of those luggage markers that makes your black roller noticeably different from everyone elses black roller. You’ve heard of the “red ribbon” trick, where you tie a red ribbon around your handle, but so has everyone else. Visit your local travel store to find the latest in luggage identity gadgets. 
  6. Make sure your bags  all have a luggage tag – We think it’s helpful to have some specially made  “return address” labels,  you know, like the kind you would use for your mail. Print up a few of those to put in with your travel documents then you can quickly and easily stick the labels on the carrier provided luggage tags. This will not only save you time, but they are also easier to read than handwriting.  And remember, when filling out your tags, never put your home address or personal  information on your luggage tags – we recommend using your place of business or some other public or neutral location that you trust.

While following these tips may not have prevented you from being a victim in Phoenix, being more conscious will certainly decrease your chances.  And since you are now paying for your bags to travel, make sure they have a safe trip!

We’d love to hear your tips for making your luggage safe! Please feel free to share with us!

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