The Security Provided by Luggage Tags

Many travelers feel that their travel ensemble, which is to say their suitcases and roller boards, must be a coordinated fashion statement-right down to the luggage tags. Of course, personalized luggage tags, like the luggage they identify, are a direct reflection of the owner. There are cute tags and serious tags and unique tags and just plain old tags. All you have to do before your next trip is pick one.

The basic premise here is to link the owner with the bag. Not hanging a well-made personalized luggage tag on the bag before sending it off into the airline’s own version of Dante’s Inferno known as “checked bags” is a clear case of planning for failure. In fact, most airlines will make sure that you have, at the very least, one of their paper luggage tags attached before they will accept the luggage and charge you that additional baggage fee.

The idea is, of course, to find your luggage if-or more likely-” when” it gets lost. Despite all of the efforts to properly route your luggage, airlines do lose bags and parcels frequently that most airlines have a special office for lost luggage usually in close proximity to the baggage claim area of the airport. So, always keep in mind that the luggage tag may be the only thing that keeps your bag from going away and never coming back.

For many years, the standard leather luggage tag was most often seen hitching a ride on a bag. Leather is durable and fairly resistant to the “elements”-whether those “elements” are the normal ravages of rain and snow or the abnormal ravages of train monkeys known as airline baggage handlers. In addition, like everything else, it didn’t take long before someone came up with a brilliant idea about how to change the lowly luggage tag into a symbol of prestige.

Marketers became very perceptive to the need travelers-particularly business travelers to have durable tags. Soon custom luggage tags were all the rage as tag manufacturers catered to corporate clients by placing their company logo on the tag and creating something of a status symbol for the employee lugging a tote through an airport. Soon tags came in all colors and shapes and with imprints that indicated anything from the company the traveler worked for to the political party he or she supported or even the sense of humor the traveler possessed. If it could be printed, it was on a luggage tag.

Often the tag was designed as an enclosed identity tag; the owner’s information such as his or her name, address, and phone number, was inserted into the tag with a small flap that allow the reader to see the information by merely opening the “window” of the tag. This kept the information from being seen inadvertently by passers-by, particularly those who might then take the information and, knowing the bag owner was traveling, burglarize the owner’s home during the trip.

This is one of the reasons that an airline-issued paper luggage tag is not the best type of tag to use; the owner’s information is flapping around in the open breeze for anyone to see and copy down. In addition, in this day of increased identity theft, would-be identity thieves don’t need any more help.

Over time, the business of custom tags became much more prevalent. Soon, a warning began to circulate regarding the luggage tag design. Government officials and corporate security experts noticed that terrorists, who were hijacking planes in foreign countries, were taking notice of the luggage tags in order to target flights and specific hostage opportunities. It was a more effective way of getting nationality information on a particular flight while standing casually in a foreign airport than by trying to notice a person’s passport as they were making their way through security. Terrorists began choosing flights with the baggage of American tourists and government officials and they were using the luggage tags as their simple, but effective mode of reconnaissance.

Soon, security experts were telling their clients traveling outside of the United States, especially in Middle Eastern countries, not to draw attention to themselves by carrying American newspapers and magazines on board the aircraft or using luggage tags with bold American company logos.

In reaction to these warnings, many of the major airlines increasingly conscious of passenger security set up programs that issued special plastic luggage tags to their frequent flier passengers. The tag would come in silver or gold to indicate frequent flier status and merely have the passengers’ name and frequent flier number permanently printed on it in a small font. Should the bag need identification, the airline could pull up the frequent flier number found on the tag and immediately have the owner’s vital information.

Written By

Ravi Rathaur