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You could lose stuff in your checked-in baggage

October 27th, 2008 · 11 Comments

luggageTwo weeks ago in our return trip from Davao via Cebu Pacific, my wife checked-in her backpack, along with the boxes of durian and mangosteen we purchased as pasalubong. Around half-an hour later she was called back to the check-in counter. Apparently her backpack ended up in the cart of Philippine Airlines, without the claim tag/sticker that’s supposed to indicate it should be on the Cebu Pacific flight. Good thing a dutiful PAL employee (thanks to you whoever you are) managed to find her address book in the bag, found her name, and returned the backpack to Cebu Pacific after verifying that her name wasn’t in the PAL manifest. Her backpack and its contents were intact.

That wasn’t the end of story though: when we got back to Manila, the box of mangosteen we had was in shambles. Apparently it rained hard while the luggage was being loaded onto the plane, and parts of the carton box disintegrated. Several pieces of the 150-pesos-a-kilo mangosteen fruit fell out of the box, hopefully to be retrieved by airline cleanup crew so the darn things don’t go to waste.

This morning, something worse happened to one of my wife’s clients, part of a party of 27 people going to Bohol today. His cellphone went missing, from inside his luggage which was checked in for the 4:50 AM Cebu Pacific flight from Manila to Cebu. Fortunately his wallet and digicam, which were also in the bag, were not taken, but it’s absolutely alarming that you could lose valuables while your baggage is being handled by airport personnel. We’ll file a report with Cebu Pacific and NAIA 3, and perhaps with the Mactan International Airport when they come back from their Bohol trip on Wednesday.

What many people don’t realize is that the handling of checked in luggage is absolutely horrid and utterly unsafe to check luggage in, in any airport or with any airline in the world. Baggage handling is rough, with machines constantly and violently shoving, pushing, and tumbling your luggage around as it makes its way from the check-in counter to the plane, when baggage handlers will likewise pass them around like basketballs in a hurried bid to get the plane flying on time.

While you can opt to lock your luggage, it’s no guarantee that contents will not be lost, and there’s absolutely no guarantee that your luggage will arrive intact. Here are some guidelines to prevent luggage from getting lost and mishandled on your flights:

  • Get some good pieces of luggage – Hard-cased and heavy duty luggages are expensive and all, but they’re quite sturdy and dependable hence their popularity. For hard-cased luggage, there’s also the guarantee that the bag won’t be squeezed in when tons upon tons of other luggage are put on top of it. Try buying luggage that can be contracted/expanded, depending on load, however, or ones with straps to hold down your things, as they are quite necessary as I’d point out in the next item.
  • Use an appropriate-sized bag for your luggage – Use a bag that is just right for the job. A bag that’s too loosely packed will tend to be crushed and/or its contents will toss and tumble inside; a bag that’s too tightly packed might be torn apart at the zippers when additional weight is applied. Make sure you pack your bag just right. You could opt to look for luggage with straps that could hold down your stuff, however, so your things won’t fly around the luggage when they’re too loose.
  • Do NOT check in your valuables and electronics – While several types of electronics (especially cellphones) are prohibited for in-flight use, it’s not worth risking having them thrown around in bags or luggage. This is especially true for laptops, where dropping and mishandling usually spells the bitter end for hard drives. Hand-carry your electronics, especially your laptops and cellular phones, as much as possible.
  • Lock your luggage with padlocks – Buy a good, small padlock to keep your luggage from being opened up. One can never be sure that there is no airport personnel who won’t be tempted to swipe a nice cellphone or iPod if your bag’s zipper fails and unravels its contents. Unfortunately if you are traveling to and within the United States this might be a bad idea, since the Department of Homeland Security sees it fit to destroy each and every padlock in sight in a pathetic attempt to “prevent terrorism”. Of course, to make this step unnecessary, refer to the previous rule.
  • Put identification on your luggage – Use hard-to-remove bag tags or labels to properly identify the owner of the luggage. I never realized how important this is until the incident in Davao: the backpack had no bag tag, and the airport employees had to rummage through my wife’s things to figure out who she was. Make their lives easier by indicating your name clearly on your bags.

Of course the best and safest way for circumventing the need for these is to pack light and have everything on your hand carry luggage. I still have to replicate Art’s amazing luggage crunching feat, which is especially difficult for a man with my large and bulky frame, but if there’s a will, there must be a way!

Tags: Transportasyon · Turismo

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Aileen Apolo // Oct 27, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Ahh yes, everything you said is true. It’s good that my Mom taught us early on to secure our stuff and even makes us bring packaging tape (just in case). For those who travel in groups it’s also good to put matching ribbons on your suitcase since luggage look the same more often than not.

  • 2 aajao // Oct 27, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    nice, nice tips. i’m afraid i’m seeing *that* airline name again. and my wife & i are flying with that airline on February. hope everything will be good.

  • 3 Jon Limjap // Oct 27, 2008 at 5:42 pm


    Yep, the matching ribbons is a good idea!

    For the Bohol tour, we provided matching bag tags for everyone as part of the package. :)


    LOL, yeah. Basta naman maingat ka at maaga ka sa flight ninyo hindi yan problema.

  • 4 Blogusvox // Oct 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Lost items inside your baggage? Most likely it was stolen. I experienced that in the old domestic airport. My cartoon was ripped and some items were missing. I don’t know where it happened because it was all transfered by pal personnel from the international airport to the domestic airport in manila to the domestic airport in my hometown.

  • 5 edgar V. // Oct 31, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    They mishandled my luggage even I put there “breakable items inside” stickers. The bottles of Vinegar and ‘bagoong” exploded,nagkalat sa Luggage sorting machine,hindi nila inayos trabaho nila pwes naglinis sila, he he he…

  • 6 Al William // Jan 12, 2009 at 9:46 am

    But who would in their right mind will leave their cell phone, electronics, and ESPECIALLY THEIR WALLET(s) in their checked-in luggages? Common-sense will tell you to keep those items with you or in your carry-on.

    As far as bottles and perishables, regardless how many “breakable items inside” stickers you have, you are taking a 50-50 chance on those items. Luggages always end up on machines and conveyer belts and are dumped on trucks or what not. Air pressure can also cause the bottle or a container to break or explode.

    As far as your comment about the US Department of Homeland Security “PATHETIC attempt to prevent terrorism”, I found that most appaling. It seems like your insulting the DHS’s intention of keeping passengers safe. Let me remind you that the weapons used by the 9-11 terrorists were of non-metal materials. Few years back explosive materials were found on a passenger’s shoe and anothr one on a liquid form. I would rather compromise the safety of the contents of my luggage without a lock rather than blew-up myself mid-air because the agents failed to detect a bomb simply for the reason that they could not open passenger’s luggages. Explosives now come in different sizes, shapes, and materials including plastic . Passengers carry all kinds of stuff in their luggages in all shapes and sizes that most of the time a thorough hand inspection is necessary to eliminate any doubts or questionable items.

    I’m a Fil-American and been traveling all over the US and back forth to the Phil evry year or two. What I found pathetic are those inspectors in Phil. airports whose job is to hand search your carry-on. All they do is open your carry-on and tap the inside with their stick (which I call magic wands) WITHOUT actually inspecting and hand-searching the contents of the carry on. I had a can of Mt. Dew in my carry-on (which I honestly forgotten) but passed though in NAIA in Manila. At my time of travel over there liquids in containers of more than 3 ounces was clearly prohibited in any airlines. That can of Mt. Dew was sequestered in Seoul, S. Korea through actual hand inspection before boarding another plane back to the US. But inspectors in Manila failed to detect it. That’s pathetic! Or worst yet those customs agents that let you go through as long as you give them $5.00. Try doing that through a US custom agent and you’ll end up in jail.

    In my years of travel in the US even before 2001 (pre 9-11), I was not the type to lcck my luggage.
    Never did I loose a single item or something taken inside of my luggage. Oftentimes I’ll find an apologetic note saying ‘We apologize if your items are in dis-array. A hand inspection was necessary for your safety.’ If they have to do that every time I fly, let it be. I’ll be happy to know my safety is not compromised by incompetent people who took an oath to perform their duties the right way.

    Worst thing ever happened to me was a couple times my luggage got delayed (understandably due to flight delays and you have like 2 or 3 plane transfers) but a day or two later they always deliver it to my home with not a single item missing.
    Worst thing happened to me in Phil. was about 5 years ago when EVA airlines delayed four of our unlocked luggages due to our flight delay in Taiwan. Two day later those four luggages were flown-in to Iloilo through PAL surprisingly without a single item missing .

    Few years back, a Filipina goverment official made a big scene in a US airport when officers will not let her go through a check-point because she refused to take her shoes off noting she was a Phil. government official and she should not be treated like everybody else. Good ol’ Filipino mentality. If you have a title in your name or have some money, you are above the law or you are the law. Plane and simple! Anybody flying in a commercial plane, regardless of status, everybody is treated the same way.

    Gone are the days when flying is a glamour or a luxury. These days flying is more of a necessity and safety is of utmost importance. The US is a major terrorism target, and not having a lock on my luggage is the LEAST of my worries when I’m in one of those planes. So my friend, think again when you say its a “pathetic attempt to prevent terrorism”. The fact is, it does prevent terrorism.

  • 7 Jon Limjap // Jan 12, 2009 at 10:30 am


    By pathetic, what I meant is that, first and foremost it is not necessary to open the luggage to inspect what’s inside (this is what those multi-spectral X-rays are for), and second oftentimes it seems that padlocks are destroyed arbitrarily, or randomly, with or without suspicion or intention to sniff inside otherwise.

    As for the other regulations of the DHS (e.g., forbidding expressed breast milk to be carried aboard but allowing lighters to be carried in anyway, or when it first came out keeping Macbook Air owners from catching their flights because they didn’t know what they were) that’s a whole other topic altogether. ;)

    But who would in their right mind will leave their cell phone, electronics, and ESPECIALLY THEIR WALLET(s) in their checked-in luggages? Common-sense will tell you to keep those items with you or in your carry-on.

    You won’t believe how naive/careless travelers could get. Or you might simply forget that you did put it inside your luggage. Point is, it happens, and it’s worth reminding about.

    As for your experiences, fortunately not all Filipinos are as corrupt as you wish they were.

    I wish you safe travel all the time. ;)

  • 8 taichi khan // Aug 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Gud day!
    well as i read the message of the customer i was thinking i wish not happened it to me ,, cause it was so waisting my time to find the things that lost to my things by the plane PAL or even CEBU PACIFIC AIR,,, i hope i cannot encountered that cause i have flight nxt week i hope im not dissapointed for the 8th times i ride in there plane,,,

    god bless all

  • 9 taichi khan // Aug 8, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Well how about the things lost by the staff or personnel of said plane?… is the things come’s back into the owner or did she/he return the things has lost? oh how sad to hear that all things lost had not find anymore,, i think make an action in that case,,, cause the owner was suffer the things that not deserve it… just like that… we hope that the admin have read this message and suggested… thanks!

  • 10 Jocs // Jan 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    “By pathetic, what I meant is that, first and foremost it is not necessary to open the luggage to inspect what’s inside (this is what those multi-spectral X-rays are for), and second oftentimes it seems that padlocks are destroyed arbitrarily, or randomly, with or without suspicion or intention to sniff inside otherwise.”

    I don’t get what you’re saying. So if they do find something suspect in a luggage, they shouldn’t open it and check what’s inside. Opened locks may appear random, but how can you be sure of this.

    And for your point as to people being careless when they travel, then they have no one else but to blame but their carelessness.

  • 11 khrise castro // Jul 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Put identification on your luggage – Use hard-to-remove bag tags or labels to properly identify the owner of the luggage <— In my case, my luggage tag was the one actually stolen. Since it says BUT IT BACK, IT'S MINE, someone perhaps found it cute and simply stole it. thanks to NAIA 3 baggage handlers.

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