Stay safe while traveling (Part 2)

There is so much travel advice out there. Unfortunately, even good advice is occasionally presented badly.

The latest example came via my Facebook feed and purported to be from British Airways. It looked like a screen shot from a smartphone and had some safety tips about luggage tags.

From the spelling, context and phraseology, I was suspicious that it didn’t actually originate with the airline and the carrier confirmed that to TheTravelPro in an email.

Nonetheless, some of the advice was actually solid, and I’ll share some of that here.

Fist, don’t put your full address on your luggage tag. While the screenshot said “drug paddlers and other criminal” (what, not “criminals”?) may secretly stash their goods and loot in your luggage,” is there a traveler on the planet who has not heard the announcement about not leaving your bags unattended? Hard for someone to secretly stash something there if you’re watching.

A more likely scenario is that you could become a target for a stalker or burglar. Why make it easy for them to learn where you live, especially if you’re young, attractive, and/or appear to be well off?

Don’t put your full name on the luggage tag either. Anyone wanting to get your attention for whatever reason need only look at your bag before saying something like, “John Smith, is it REALLY you?” while a confederate lifts your wallet or other possession, or they start a conversation that leads to a potential scam. Better to just put a last name.

A phone number and email should be fine on the outside tag, but a tag inside the bag with your contact information will make it easier for the carrier to contact you should your bag be “misdirected.”

If you travel First or Business Class and the airline puts a “Priority Handling” or similar tag on your bags, security experts advise taking those off immediately and throwing them away before exiting the terminal, particularly if you’ll be using common-carrier transportation. Leaving them on implies that you are wealthy and makes you a potential target.

“Do not leave boarding pass as rubbish in the passenger seat pockets. Criminals can scan the QR code to get your full name and other details. And can even steal your mileage points etc.” the screenshot said.

I doubt that the QR code would give a thief that much information but there’s plenty on the boarding pass - including your name, frequent flyer number, perhaps TSA Pre-Check – that might prove valuable. And after all, how tough is it to stuff it back into your suitcase and throw it in the shredder when you get back home?

Finally, don’t believe everything you read just because it has a company logo on it. A child can copy and paste a logo from virtually any company’s website. Look at what the message says, how it says it, and ask yourself if it makes sense before acting upon it.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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