5 Ways to Help Keep Your Luggage Secure at the Airport

November 07, 2014

There are so many things to think about as you plan your vacation, like which restaurants you’ll be eating at, which tours you’d like to book, or maybe which beach you’ll set up camp up at with a cocktail (or 2) and not move for a whole week. While luggage security doesn’t always rank high on that planning list it is something you should seriously be thinking about.

If you lose or have something stolen from your luggage at the airport the chances of getting it back are about as slim as finding the money you dropped in the last taxi you were in. However, there are a number of things you can do to secure your luggage on your holidays.

1. Start at home

Securing your luggage starts as soon as you pull out those bags from the closet. Put all your valuables, such as laptops, cameras, jewelry, and travel documents together and pack them in your carry-on. Ed Hewitt of IndependentTraveler.com says in this article that a friend of his actually puts “her most critical and valuable items (identification, wallet, cash, jewelry) in a clear plastic bag that is obvious to everyone.” By having everything in plain sight makes it much less likely security will need to open the bag and everything is in full view for you to see as it out the other end of the security machine.

2. Never put valuables in your checked bag

I was always told to never put anything in my checked bag that I couldn’t do without, or at least for a few days, as you just never know when your luggage will decide to take an alternative route to your destination. A friend of mine recently vacationed in France right in the middle of the Air France strike. Unfortunately, a couple of people in their group had their bags come in on a different flight than them which left them without their stuff for 3 days! Yikes! Their tour was only a week so they didn’t have their luggage for almost half of it! I hope their airport attire was up to French standards

3. Have luggage tags with your name, email and/or cell number on it

Luggage tags are very useful as it makes it very easy for the airline to reach you if your luggage gets lost or takes that unwanted detour. Although a word of caution, you don’t need to put all your information on it, only enough for the airline to reach you, in fact here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Never put your home address or destination on the tag. You don’t want to advertise to everyone that your house may be empty or where you’ll be staying if they think you have something worth stealing – use your work address or a P.O. Box instead.
  • Also use a tag that has a cover on it, that way your information is a little bit harder for prying eyes to see.

If you really want to get fancy with the tags you check out services like Rebound Tag or SuperSmart Tag. These companies use RFID microchips on their tags so if your bags are lost the airline staff can identify it through the chip and contact your tag provider. Rebound Tag can even keep you updated on the status of your luggage via your smartphone!

4. Use a TSA luggage lock on your checked bags as well as your carry-on

You have no control over what happens to your bag once it’s carried away on the conveyer belt into the unknown, but if you are using a TSA luggage lock you can have a little piece of mind. The TSA agents have a universal master key to open your lock if they need to search your checked bag. And if you have a long layover between flights, your luggage is secure from people wanting to slip stuff out or in your bag as you chart it around the airport waiting for your next flight.

These locks are also great for your carry-on luggage! Remember your carry-on has all of your valuables, the things you cannot live without! After going through security lock up your bag. If the overhead bins on your flight are full, which is becoming more and more common because of checked baggage fees, your bag may have to be put in the bin far away from you.

Lastly, a word of warning, if you’re flying in the US and have non-TSA approved locks on your luggage they will very likely be cut off. You can get more information about TSA Locks here: https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2016/03/16/packing-right-and-protecting-your-property-tips-smooth-screening-experience.

5. Secure your luggage with a colorful strap

Not only do luggage straps help keep your luggage together in case a zipper breaks or your case is damaged, it also helps your luggage stand out on the carousel. With so many bags looking exactly the same it’s easy to mistakenly grab the wrong one.

A couple of final travel tips to keep your luggage secure are:

  1. Check in early. When you cut to close to the cut off time your bag has a better chance of not making it on your flight. You can simply walk on but your bag has to go through security and get transported to your plane.
  2. Take photos of your bags, inside your bag and your claim ticket. If your bag does go missing it will help the airline staff find it. It is also nice to have pictures to prove what was in there if you have to make a claim.