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.
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