Luggage Mishaps When Traveling

We have all heard horror stories of checked luggage being opened, damaged, locks being cut off, items being removed and not returned. Why? Very simply, rules may not have been followed.

First of all, if travelers would review the FREE TSA Checklist before packing, they would know there are strict guidelines that must be adhered to when it comes to what can and cannot be packed in both carry-on and checked luggage.

While it’s understandable that travelers want to lock their baggage to protect their personal belongings, it’s also important to understand that TSA officers must be able to inspect baggage and contents when the need arises.

Let’s look at comments, questions and complaints by travelers, as answered by the TSA.

  • Should I use TSA recognized locks on my checked luggage? Travelers should always remember NOT to place valuable items in checked luggage. For personal control and protection against loss, such items should always be placed in your carry-on and keep it in your possession at all times. TRAVELERS TIP: We suggest not bringing valuables with you unless absolutely necessary. However, if you must take your valuables and you cannot carry them with you, we suggest mailing an insured package to yourself to your destination. If you wish your checked luggage to be locked, then TSA recognized locks are recommended. During the scanning process in the airport handlers area, should it be necessary for your luggage to be physically inspected, TSA security officers have universal “master” keys for this purpose. Personal note, we have used these locks for years and have never had a problem.
  • What if my lock is cut off, broken or missing? There may be a number of reasons for these problems. The first being that technology scanning triggers an alarm requiring physical inspection. If the lock placed on the luggage is NOT TSA recognized, it must be cut off to make the inspection of the contents possible. The second may be that the locks were placed on the luggage in such a manner that they hang down when the baggage is placed on the airport conveyor belts. The airport luggage handlers place the baggage on the conveyors with the wheels up so that they do not get caught and jam in the conveyor. The image below shows how these problems can occur.

TRAVELER TIP: From personal experience, we have always fastened the locks on top of the luggage, under the handle. This has proven to be a “safe” location for the lock. Another alternative solution is to use TSA approved luggage straps. These are durable, colorful straps that we have used to identify the luggage for ourselves and our traveling group. You can choose from several, unique, fun colors. We place them on the luggage with the buckles on the rear, it seems to be a safer place for them. What I like about these straps is that they hold the luggage closed just in case you have a zipper or built-in snap mishap. We would hate to have our belonging spill out for all to see.

  • Why do the TSA officers open zippered content bags inside of my carry-on? If you have not followed the 3-1-1 liquids rule and placed your toiletries in zippered cosmetic bags, which are not see through, instead of TSA approvedquart size plastic bag, an officer will open them for inspection.  This is the 3-1-1 liquids rule – TSA rules state that your travel size bottles (3.4 ounces or less per container), containing liquids, gels and aerosols be placed in a 1-quart size, clear, plastic, ziplock bag (all 3.4 oz containers must fit in the bag) and 1-quart size bag per passenger. TSA suggests placing this bag in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility. Then you should be able to lift it out, show it to the officer and be on your way.
  • Is There A Limit To The Number of Lighters That Can Be Packed in Carry-on Luggage? The answer to this is yes – one (1) and only 1 is permitted in carry-on luggage. It can be either a disposable lighter or a zippo type. It CANNOT be a torch lighter, such as used for pipes and cigars. If you place the zippo type lighter in your checked baggage, they must NOT HAVE FUEL IN THEM. Also, a lighter may trigger a physical search that may cause the TSA officers to examine a checked bag to be sure it does not have fuel and it may even end up confiscated. My suggestion, carry it with you or leave it home.

Approved for carry-on. Empty the fuel if this lighter is placed in your checked-in bag.

  • What Caused My Luggage To Be Searched?
    When luggage is passed through the x-ray machines at the airport, the TSA officers are looking for suspicious items that may be construed to be of an explosive nature. Unfortunately, since 9/11, this is the “beast” we live with when traveling. The officers look at anything that has a density of a liquid, gel, paper or soft plastic. Then there are items of various shapes that can cause a trigger, such as camera tripods packed in the center of a checked-in bag. If the x-ray equipment cannot discern that the item truly is a tripod and it leaves a question then the luggage will be searched. Other similar “harmless” items may be electronics, hair dryers, curling irons, electric razors, iPods/Music players and battery chargers. Believe it or not, books, paper reports, toiletries, shampoos, lotions, soaps, powder substances, even baby powder or talcum powder and other similar items may all appear suspicious, inspected and possibly confiscated. TRAVELERS TIP: When packing such “harmless” items, place clothing around them so that each item is separated from the other. This helps in identification while being x-rayed.

Yes, even this doll can trigger a search

Luggage or Property Is Damaged

  • Can I make a claim for loss or damages to my luggage? If you suffer loss or damages to your property you may file a claim with the TSA by following these TSA Claim guidelines.

Be Aware And Follow The Rules

If we know the rules and adhere to them, we should have no problems with our luggage being checked or carried-on. As harsh as we may think the rules may be, they are for the safety of all.

If we just stop for a moment and think of the number of travelers that go through airports around the world each day, the number is staggering versus the relatively small number of problems reported regarding TSA incidents.

Just think how fast you can go through the checkpoints if you know how to pack, so there are no reasons for inspections, and how to follow the rules.

“Do I see the security checkpoint ahead?”

It’s A World of Joy out there, let’s all be courteous to one another, enjoy each day and have fun on your travels.

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