Why you shouldn’t wrap your suitcases

Intro

I’m not sure if it’s the carefree holiday spirit or the stress of travelling, but airport staff frequently joke that when passengers arrive at the airport they “check in their brains as well as their luggage!”

In all walks of life, when a lapse of judgement occurs there is usually someone nearby willing to take your money and profit from it. Possibly, one of the greatest modern cons is the cling-film baggage wrap service.

At every airport around the world you will usually see someone paying a huge amount of money for an automated machine to cover their bag in plastic wrap.

Here’s a look at what the company’s offering this service claim are the reasons for using it — and why you should save your money.

Reasons to wrap your suitcases at the airport

Excess-baggage is the largest supplier of bag wrapping services in the entirety of Europe — they are in over 40 airports.

Here’s their reasons why you need to hand over your hard-earned cash to have clingfilm applied to your luggage:

excess baggage luggage wrapping service advantages
Excess-Baggage — Advantages to wrapping

Immediately you’ll notice that 2 of the five reasons are nonsense. A convenient solution and ensuring peace of mind? For what — they are not reasons?

That leaves us with three main reasons people like to wrap their luggage:

  1. Deterring “undesirables”
  2. Protecting your luggage
  3. Onward baggage liability protection

Deterring thieves

Deterring thieves could potentially have some — albeit minimal benefit.

On one hand, if you are travelling through an airport where you are worried that unscrupulous employees or baggage staff may slip a hand into your case you might think that by wrapping it in clingfilm you are adding a deterrent as they will have to cut it off.

Equally, you might be making your bag more of a target — why would you bother looking through 20 unwrapped bags when it’s likely that the person wrapping their bag thinks there is obviously something of value in it?

It. Is. Clingfilm. There is a reason we lock our front door, and we don’t wrap our house in clingfilm to protect it from thieves.

For those worried about customers or TSA officials accessing your bags. They will search whichever bags they need to — regardless of bag wrapping. And if your bag is wrapped they will simply cut it off.

Protecting your luggage

This idea may have had some benefit at the beginning of automated baggage systems several decades ago. But, in the 21st century has no real benefit.

baggage handlers loading bags aircraft
On the rare occasions bags are severely damaged — plastic wrap is unlikely to offer much protection

Allegedly it stops scratches, stains and spills, from travelling through the mechanised system. However, most airline holds now are containerised — bags travel through clean and modern automated system and are placed in aluminium containers. These are loaded directly onto the aircraft.

You’re just as likely to get a stain on your bag from getting it out of the car — pre-wrapping — heading to the airport!

There are still rare cases of luggage being abused or thrown around by baggage handlers — frequently making good viral videos. However, the reality is if you are in the tiny proportion of travelling public where your bag has been severely damaged — wrapping it in a thin layer of clingfilm is unlikely to mitigate this. And the airline will buy you new bag anyway.

Onward baggage liability protection

Different airline carriers have different rules, but the average luggage cost an airline will cover for damaged bags is around £1200 / $1500. That’s without any additional protection or coverage that your credit cards / travel insurance or bank may also give you.

Looking at the busiest airport in Europe — London Heathrow — Bag wrapping services start at £13 per bag or £22 for two. This is without any additional liability protection.

It is only if you are willing to upgrade to more premium baggage wrapping services that onward baggage liability protection is even supplied. Even then to get the ultimate protection and baggage liability for £3000 is £20 per bag! Often this is significantly more expensive than buying travel insurance or specialist lost luggage policies.

Summary

If you want to pay someone money to be told it’s good for your peace of mind — bag wrapping is for you. It is a convenient solution after all. Whatever that is.

In reality, if you have expensive items in your luggage get proper travel insurance — it’s cheaper and easier to claim for.

If your checked bag is full of swim shorts and flip-flops like the rest of us, there’s significantly better uses for your hard-earned cash.

Like setting it on fire perhaps?

burning cash
Setting your hard-earned cash on fire is arguably more fun than getting your bag wrapped in clingfilm anyway