Travel Accessories

How Dangerous Are Your Luggage Tags?

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One of the many things I love about travel events such as Frequent Traveler University is the delightfully random conversations and debates you can get into.

Yesterday afternoon it was about luggage tags safety concerns for checked luggage. In the event that your luggage is lost, making your information as accessible as possible for the airline is preferable without encouraging anyone looking for an easy victim to rob or stalk.

Everyone agreed that putting all your personal information (phone number, address, and email) on the back of a basic tag was a terrible idea. Where we disagreed was on the best compromise of convenience and safety.

Several years ago my compromise was putting my name and email or phone number on the tag. That way no one could easily find out where I lived. Except nowadays, it’s pretty easy to find out a lot about a person with just a phone number or email address. So that’s no longer my preferred approach.

Several at the table favored the luggage tag with flaps. You can put your personal information on the inside and the flap keeps it from being immediately visible to anyone glancing at it. Now your main concern would be opportunistic airline/airport personnel taking the initiative to open the flap and photograph or copy down your info.

One person went further – suggesting that you put even more distance between a potential criminal by putting your business card in there. Then the most they would know/could follow you is your workplace which hopefully would have more people around.

This was debated by those who worked in public areas that made them far more accessible than they would be in their neighborhoods and by those who didn’t have business cards or employers who’d be ok with their lost luggage showing up.

So a better option for some but not all, and still not terribly secure.

My current approach for the rare checked bag putting my name on a luggage tag with a flap and a copy of my ticket in the front zipped pocket. So if the airline loses my bag it would be easy to find my information if they were looking but sidetracks the casual observer.

The ideal, which unfortunately none of the airlines I fly offer, is the airline produced luggage tag with a bar code featuring all your information. Technically you’re still at risk from airline employees but to fellow passengers or observers you’re safe.

q bag tag

 

What is your comfort level with security vs convenience?

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15 Comments

  1. Chris Reardon

    October 1, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Luggage tag anonomizing database service startup?

  2. Papa Smurf

    October 1, 2013 at 3:34 am

    You could always just create a dedicated email account to put on your luggage as well as a Google Voice number.

  3. Jim

    October 1, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Get a Google Voice phone number or setup an e-mail account that is solely for lost wallet/bags and have it forward to your main e-mail.

    You don’t need a name or address. Just a message: “If found, please do the right thing. Contact [forwarded e-mail or Google Voice number].”

  4. Bill G

    October 1, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Pretty trivial to read almost any barcode with a smartphone these days so I doubt it would offer that much more protection. I like your ticket idea.

  5. Jeff

    October 1, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I think the CX Gold luggage tags have your name and a request to call CX. That’s pretty convenient I think!

  6. VG

    October 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    How about your frequent flyer number? The airline can quickly get all your contact information, but this is not directly available to thieves. My question would be thieves who actually work for the airline, but if they can access that they already have access to all sorts of criminally useful information (e.g. your flight schedule).
    Normally I am very careful with my frequent flyer numbers, but I might make an exception here.

  7. Tyler

    October 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I’m Sorry, but people paid to attend FTU and talk about baggage tags? There was that little content to discuss?

    • Keri Anderson

      October 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      This was after the sessions, chatting about random travel topics over drinks with old and new friends. The content of our conversations was was in now way suggested by the FTU organizers 🙂

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  9. Tom

    October 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Someone’s going to make a lot of money with this scrutiny idea.

  10. joan kronick

    March 18, 2014 at 12:30 am

    I decided to go with the tags and just put my phone
    number. You can never protect completely, this may help to relocate a lost bag. I think that flaps are
    a good idea too.

  11. Sandy

    May 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    We put a laminated card in our luggage that has our picture, cell phone and alternate cell, address, and email account that I don’t use except for things like this. On the outside is our name and cell number.

    I like the ticket idea, too.

  12. Greg

    June 18, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I just got a set of these. Great idea and your details stay private.
    http://www.idtagit.com/

  13. Martin Banbury

    June 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Just spotted this. I generally find businesses posting on forums a pain, so I hope you find this helpful.
    HomingPINs are, like idtagit, bag tags and stickers with a unique number on them, so the finder can message the owner through the website.
    The difference is that HomingPINs are integrated into the baggage system used by 2200 airports. When a bag with a HomingPIN turns up, the code is entered into the system, you get a text and email, and your bag will come to you far more quickly than if a non integrated tag like idtagit is present. We also can arrange to get a bag or any other valuable that’s lost outside the airline back from anywhere in the world (try that from Bogata or Mumbai). And we auto translate to and from 70 languages so if the finder only speaks Swahili, no problem!
    Finally, our product is very good value and globally available. Just $15 for 3 bag tags and 12 stickers (for phones, passports, cameras, etc.) and a small annual charge (currently $8 pa for up to 15 PINs).

  14. Anne Betts

    January 21, 2015 at 12:32 am

    I agree that with identity theft on the increase, limiting the amount of information on an external luggage tag makes a lot of sense. I also like the idea of lost-and-found tags on belongings as described in the following post:
    http://packinglighttravel.com/travel-tips/luggage-tag-tips/

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