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25/02/08 - Baggage Tag Identification Information - The Do's & Don'ts
You get a new bag, you pull out the baggage tag and you fill out your home address and phone number, it seems easy enough. Right? WRONG!
While standing at the check-in counters at airports, and the baggage carousel at the end destination point, I have a habit of reading people's baggage tags. Two things always amaze me, the first is the information people put on their tag, the second is the information people leave off of their tags.
When you are traveling the following is the most important information you should have on your tag
- Your name, preferably how it appears on your airline tickets
- Your contact phone number
- Your destination contact phone number if you are traveling somewhere your mobile phone will not be "roaming" with you
- Your e-mail address
Your contact phone number is very important. In this day-and-age, we all have mobile phones. Your mobile phone follows you, this means that if you are flying from Providence, RI (PVD) to Calgary, AB (YYC) and somewhere along the way your bag is delayed the airline can call you and let you know what it has arrived.
If you are traveling somewhere that your mobile phone may not work, such as Japan, which is on it's own GSM mobile phone system, that is GSM 3G only (that's right you GSM EDGE users, your GSM mobile won't work in Japan), you need an alternate form of contact information. List the phone number of your hotel or your business contact so the airline can contact you while you are in an area potentially inaccessible to your mobile phone.
When you are filling out your baggage tag the following information should NOT be placed on your baggage tag
- Your home address
- Your home "landline" phone number
Most people assume that their home address and phone number should be on their bags. The problem with exposing this information on your bags is that there are experienced thieves loitering in many airports reading luggage tags! When you have your home address publicly available on your baggage tag you are announcing to these seasoned criminals that you are not home! It happens more than you would think.
Why no home "landline" phone number? These numbers lead back to your address. I have sat in the lounge at an airport to test my theory and using www.whitepages.com/reverse-lookup searched the phone number on the bags next to me. What a shock, I immediately knew the home address of the guy next to me, as well as his wife's name. Now I have no intention of breaking into anyone's home, but as this guy left the United Airline's Red Carpet Lounge at JFK I saw him walk out with his wife. By the age of this couple, their kids have probably moved out, and by their address off 188th Street in Queens, New York, I know they live in a very nice upscale neighbourhood and their house would be totally unattended for at least a day as they were departing for LAX at 6:30am on United Airlines (UA) Flight 891. Do you want someone knowing this much information about you, just by reading your phone number in an instant while you standing in the airport?
On a more practical issue, if you get off a plane in Stockholm (ARN) and you live in Boston (BOS) and your bags are delayed, how will the airline calling your house help you?
For you members of the American Airlines (AA) AAdvantage frequent flyer program, even you basic members with no status, for US$20 you can order a set of customized AAdvantage luggage tags. These are very useful and simple to order and can allow AA to claim your bag and contact you directly! You can find details on these tags here:
So..............when getting your new luggage tags, remember to give useful information and NOT too much information!