A Business Traveller's Guide to Bag Security
How safe is your bag when you fly?
When you regularly travel abroad for work, a trip to the airport becomes just another flight, a way to get to your destination. It's easy to become blasé about bag security when we fly regularly, but this is when opportunistic thieves can swoop in and turn a mundane commute into a nightmare.
A recent survey has revealed some concerning statistics about bag safety when travelling. Apparently 75 per cent of us take no safety precautions to secure our bags while travelling, and more concerning is the fact that 70 per cent of us keep up to £1,700 ($2500) worth of valuables in our luggage cases. Laptops, tablets, other devices, expensive clothes and toiletries; it all soon adds up and can mean we're carrying a small fortune around the airport with us.
It seems that business travellers and commuters are increasingly becoming targets for opportunistic thieves. Many holiday makers aren't often in an airport so are likely to be more security conscious, keeping their bags close to them and paying close attention. People commuting on business on a regular basis can sometimes become a little distracted and perhaps less concerned about our baggage; we are prime targets for eagle-eyed thieves who are just waiting for us to take our eyes off our bags.
When we are commuting between countries on a regular basis, things like going through airport security or passport control become less of an event and more of a chore; when we're doing it for the tenth time this month, we are bound to let our guard slip. When we feel like we're spending more time in the airport lounge than our living room at home, it's likely that security will not be at the forefront of our minds.
The airport is one of the top places people feel most vulnerable to bag theft, with conferences, hotel rooms and hotel lobbies coming in close behind. These are all places a regular commuter will spend a lot of time - as well as places we are likely to be tired, stressed and distracted.
We don't need to tell you that it's important to be vigilant when travelling; everyone knows that and these days most frequent travellers can tell you of a time something was stolen from them. Even more worryingly, there have been news stories of valuables being stolen from checked luggage, and even during airport security checks. So how do we ensure our luggage and valuables are safe and secure when travelling?
In short, there is no surefire way to ensure thieves do not get to your belongings; but there are simple precautions we can all take.
The most obvious is to pack all your valuable in your hand luggage and wear your bag about your person; if it's a weight on your shoulder rather than on the floor next to you, you are more likely to be aware of its presence. Many people will walk with their hand rested on the bag too; this means they're more likely to feel anyone tampering with it.
If you're stuck in an airport or on a flight for an extended period of time and want to catch a quick nap, don't assume that everyone around you will be doing likewise. Thieves working in airports are experienced and fast. Loop the strap of your bag around your foot, or use it as a pillow or footrest. If you have a luggage strap you could go so far as to tie the bag to you. All of these will make you more likely to wake up if someone decides to rummage through your bag or walk off with it.
Many frequent travellers will often keep a list of items to pack for a trip. This is useful to have if you suspect a theft has occurred as you can match the list against what remains in your bag. Consider storing the list in the cloud using an app such as Evernote, so that it's easily retrievable. You could go one step further and photograph the contents of your bag as a visual reminder of what you packed. Both will help in the event of a theft, especially when it comes to reporting it to the police.
Personalised or colourful bags are not only useful for holidaymakers wanting to locate their luggage on a carousel. They are also a thief's worst nightmare. Nobody wants to steal a bag that is instantly recognisable as belonging to someone else. Having a personalised luggage makes it easier to identify, and easier to describe to airport security or police - but also makes a thief think twice before trying to steal it.
It's sad to think that we can't take our eyes off our bags for a second, but it's true; thieves are beginning to target business commuters who are more likely to be tired and distracted on their way to or from a meeting. It's better to be prepared for them, than to be phoning the insurance company with a crime reference number.
Matt (Bag Wingman)