How Safe is your Luggage from Theft?

How many times do people have luggage stolen when they travel? It’s hard to get your hands on accurate statistics since neither the TSA nor airlines can tell you whether bags have been stolen or are simply lost.

How Safe is your Luggage from Theft?

Luggage Loss Statistics

According to this infographic from Credit Donkey, baggage loss stats last year ranged from 6 per 1,000 passengers (American Eagle) to 1.43 per 1,000 passengers (AirTran). Older statistics from the TSA claimed a loss rate of 3 per 100,000 passengers (source: Budget Travel Blog), though more recently the number of claims has fallen, according to the Travel Sentry blog. a Reuters report gives a higher figure, at 4 per 100,000.  That may not sound a lot, but it adds up to about 2 million mishandled baggage reports! And at least some of those are thefts, if you can believe recent news reports. So what can you do about it?

What Are You Entitled To?

First of all, it’s important to know your rights. In an Insurance Journal article called US Airlines and Lost Luggage Liability, Mitch Lipka says passengers can claim up to $3,300 in compensation for missing luggage. Despite what some airlines would have you believe, there is no daily limit under federal law.

Protecting Your Luggage

Second, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your belongings. These include making your bags unattractive to thieves – the more conspicuous they are, the less of a temptation they are. Brightly colored suitcases or those with colorful sashes tied to them are not just an advantage when it comes to spotting your cases in the baggage reclaim; they can also deter thieves.

Make sure that any items you can’t replace – or don’t want to – travel in your carry-on. Using hard-sided luggage that does not look expensive is another good bet for deterring theft. While it’s a good idea to get a stronger lock than the default for your suitcase, the US Travel Insurance Association also suggests using cable ties rather than locks to secure your luggage.

Finally, if your luggage is lost rather than stolen, and you don’t claim it, then it can end up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro. Check out the video here for more.

Image: Tom Godber

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Comments

  1. Julia Says:

    Apparently there is going to be a new TV show all about people reselling lost baggage items (like those storage space auction shows). Kind of sad, as I bet those travelers would like their stuff back!
    Julia´s last post ..What sustainable tourism really means, Part II

  2. Sharon Hurley Hall Says:

    Yes, I’m pretty sure they would want their stuff back, Julia. I can’t believe they’re making a show about it.

  3. Bianca Says:

    Very informative video.. I’ve never encounter selling lost baggage..Thanks for this post..

  4. Renea Says:

    You can file a report with the airport that you started at. The report would be with the airline and not necessarily with the airport itself, so it wouldn’t matter where in the trip the items were taken. Contact the airline that you used to find out where to file the missing items report.