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Five ways to keep your luggage safe through the airport

One of the biggest concerns expressed by first time flyers is in regards to luggage safety. Where does my luggage go after I check it at the counter? Who will handle it? Who will look through it? Will it even be on my flight?

All of these are valid questions, and with the wealth of baggage-handling nightmare stories out on the web it’s completely reasonable to have concern. That said, there are a few things that you can do to help make sure that your belongings make the journey safe and sound. Here are five ways to get started.

Using a luggage lock can add an extra layer of security, but it wont prevent the TSA from looking inside. They’re specifically allowed to remove the locks from any bag that they want to search, so unless you have a TSA approved device it’s going to get cut off. Why get a lock if the TSA can simply remove it at free will? Because it prevents access to other people (baggage handlers, ticket agents, etc) in the chain of operation. It’s also a deterrent to anyone who sees your bag on the arrivals carousel at your destination airport.

Speaking of the arrivals carousel, there’s no riskier place for your luggage to sit, so make sure you get to the beltway as soon as you can after your flight arrives — any random straggler can pick up your bags and wander off if they’re not picked up immediately.

To that end, make sure that your bags have distinctive features with which you can track them. We’re not saying that you have to get a hot pink leopard print roll-aboard, but a colored sash or a unique baggage tag will help you identify your bag on the carousel, in a thief’s hands or to a wayward airline agent.

Another piece of data that will help keep track of your luggage is the baggage receipt. When the ticket agent at the departure airport prints out the sticker that will be attached to your bag, he or she will also print out a receipt that will often be attached to your boarding pass (or its jacket.) Hold onto this — airline representatives can use it to track your bag.While you’re in the process of filing away your receipt at the ticket counter, by the way, make sure to look over the shoulder of the ticket agent to check the destination of your bag. It should be printed in large characters next to the bar code. Hint: if it says SJO and your actual destination is SJU, ask the agent to double check the route.

Naturally, many of these tips are rendered null if you opt to carry on your bags. In addition to saving a load of extra fees, your bags will travel by your side for the entire duration of your trip, drastically reducing any risk involved and saving a little bit of time to boot.

Either way, it’s important to remember that baggage loss or theft happens to a minuscule volume of air travelers, less than 8 in 1000 on average. Keep those statistics in mind and use the above security tips, and at the very least, your mind will be more at ease.