You’ve seen it done overseas. You’ve noticed a few kiosks offering the service in the international terminals. You’ve seen the bags come down the carrousel covered in blue plastic and wondered “Why?”. Why would you shrink wrap your luggage?
Luggage wrapping isn’t as common in the United States as it is abroad, but it’s not just done to make your bag look tacky. Ok, that’s my initial thought, though there really are some good reasons to cover your checked bag in 10 yards of thin plastic.
Reason 1: Protects Against Theft
We will always recommend that anything of value should be brought in your carry-on, but if you have to check something of value, wrapping your luggage may prevent sticky fingers. It may not be endemic in North American or European airports, but has been widely reported in some Asian and African airports. One FlyerTalk member told the story of his belongings being pilfered at the Johannesburg airport. Wrapping up your luggage isn’t a guarantee that your stuff will be left alone, but it is a deterrent.
Reason 2: Tattle-Tales on Tampering
If someone does go through your bag, you’ll know it. You might not be able to do anything about it, but at least you’ll know your bag got someone’s curiosity peaked.
Reason 3: Keeps Your Bag Together
On one trip, I discovered my bag’s main zipper would no longer stay put. The bag wasn’t busting at the seams, but the zipper would continually open just enough for me to worry. For my return trip home, I used a TSA lock and a key ring to keep my bag together. On another trip, I realized my bag had a small rip in it just before a flight. Wrapping your luggage in plastic could solve both of these problems, keep everything in its rightful place, and give you some piece of mind.
Reason 4: Prevents Any Stowaways
If you’re the paranoid type, wrapping up your luggage could prevent any unwanted items from finding their way into your baggage. There are a very few and rare cases where passengers became drug mules unknowingly, and we’re not here to fear monger, but if you worry about it, then you may want to protect your bags.
Reason 5: Protects Against Damage
A thin layer of plastic surrounding that nice, new bag of yours can help keep it looking great. Luggage handlers don’t wear white gloves and treat every bag like the Stanley Cup. And if rain and snow have you concerned as you wave goodbye to your checked bag, certainly your bag will be outside in the elements and get soaked before it’s loaded on the plane. Keep your luggage scuff-free and dry by wrapping it.
So Why Wouldn’t You?
Even though there are a handful of reasons to wrap your luggage, there are still some downsides. When we asked for your thoughts on our Facebook page, not a kind word was said about the service. It does cost money, some see it as a waste of plastic, and have we mentioned that it looks really tacky?
If you still would like the piece of mind offered by a luggage wrapping service, they are easy to find. Since every location is different, it’d be best to search for what is offered at your local airport. For example, search “luggage wrapping at O’Hare (ORD)”. If the service is offered, you should be able to find a terminal and location of the service to make it easy to locate.
Secure Wrap is one of the most prevalent companies out there. In the U.S., they operate out of JFK, IAH, and MIA, but in total they operate out of 52 airports in 17 countries. They also offer lost luggage assistance and extra insurance in case your bags are completely gone. And if TSA has to check the contents of your bag, they will rewrap it for free. There are other luggage wrap providers, so again, check your local airport to see what’s offered.
I have yet to get my wrap my luggage in plastic before a trip and it’s not in my immediate plans. There may, however, be certain circumstances where it may be a prudent decision for you (or me!)
Do you swear by luggage wrapping services? Do you have stories about the plastic wrap saving your trip? Share them in comments below. This will help others know whether it makes sense (or dollars, in this case) to shrink wrap their luggage. Safe travels to you!
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