Choosing the right luggage tag

Ah, baggage claim. Forget Disney, I want to spend time in the basement of a monstrous building with a hundred other exhausted, bleary-eyed people while we wait for our belongings to pass by on a noisy conveyor belt. The buzz of fluorescent lights and the hard, industrial tile only add to the experience.

If you’re like me, you want to spend as little time in baggage claim as possible. A good tag can help.

It might seem like a minor thing. Most people use the tag that came with the suitcase or rely on the sticky paper one the airline will affix. This is a mistake, as neither meet the requirements of a truly useful luggage tag. Here’s why you need to choose your luggage tag carefully.

  1. The airport prints out that big sticky tag. Is it enough? No, mistakes can happen. Perhaps there was a misprint, maybe the wet ink got smudged or more likely, rough baggage personnel ripped it in two.
  2. The right tag makes it easier to identify your bag at baggage claim. A sticky tag on a black suitcase is hardly a unique look. Something big and bright stands out.
  3. Get a tag that can stand up to some abuse. Your bag will be tossed around. Make sure the tag is durable enough to withstand it.

Choosing the right design

When searching for a luggage tag, select one with a small loop that holds the tag closely to the bag. Large loops are more likely to get snagged as they travel on and off of the plane.

Next, consider construction: where the loop attaches to the tag, stitching that seals in your personal info, and any closures (snaps, zips or clasps). Will they easily fall apart? Are the stitches tight and close together? Can you lift the entire suitcase by the tag without it tearing?

Of course, find a bright, colorful tag or one of unusual design that will stand out on the turnstile. Mine is bright orange and quite large. It’s easy to see from a distance and, being unique, other people don’t mistake it for their own.

Now that we’ve defined a good tag, let’s discuss what you’ll write on it.

Information

You needn’t write the story of your life on the luggage tag. In fact, I don’t think you need to put much personal information at all. For example, I never put my full name, address, phone number, etc. on a tag. Instead I go in the opposite direction: instead of listing where I live and so on, I note where the bag should be going. For example:

“D. Caolo, traveling to Boston, MA on JetBlue #1234 on July 4 2017 – [my-email-address]).”

This way you’re covered if there’s a problem with the tag the airline printed and my personal information isn’t being advertised to everyone in the airport.

What about carry-ons?

Does your carry-on bag need a luggage tag? Yes and yes! If you’ve ever been on a flight that’s booked solid, you’ve probably seen the workers at the gate ask if anyone is willing to check their carry-on to save room on the overhead compartments. I always volunteer my bag in that situation, and I do not want it going into the belly of the plane without a tag.

All of this applies to people going on cruises, too.

It seems like a little thing, a luggage tag. But the right one can be very beneficial, just as the wrong model can be a hindrance. Give it some consideration the next time you travel.

For more on successful, organized travel, check out our recent conversation with an airline pilot.

6 Comments for “Choosing the right luggage tag”

  1. posted by infmom on

    Travel catalogues like Magellan’s and Travelsmith have a good selection of luggage tags, and so does the Container Store. There’s also FoundID (foundid.com) which sells nice tags that don’t give away your personal information. They have a unique identifier on the tag.

    And yes, definitely put a tag on anything you put on the plane.

  2. posted by NoAlias on

    On the ID tag, I use my name but my neighbor’s address. If ‘bad guys’ are collecting travelers’ addresses (to know who’s not home and ripe for robbery), my neighbor is home and the would-be thieves have nothing. If the airline has to mail my luggage back to me (????), my neighbor knows what’s going on.

  3. posted by Rob O. on

    Dunno hoe much real value in doing so, but I’ve long since been in the habit of also printing a full sheet page that gives my name, email, and cell phone number and laying that in on top just before I close my suitcase or bag. Just for grins, I even started adding a QRCode with the same info just in case some would-be Good Samaritan is prompted by wizbangery to find out who the bag belongs to.

    Likely coincidence, but I’ve never had a piece of luggage lost…

  4. posted by Zilla on

    While you are at it, make your suitcase stand out so you can readily identify it at the luggage carousel. There are a zillion smallish black suitcases for example, so make yours easy to pick out. Use coloured duct tape (mine is camoflage tape) or ribbons, or stickers, anything that stands out. It means you’ll find your bag easily and that another person won’t pick it up by mistake, thinking it’s theirs. I was recently on a tour and we stood around for ten minutes watching the Tour Manager and one of our group look for a suitcase. They finally came up to us with a blue suitcase that had our Tour’s luggage tag but it wasn’t that tour member’s. It belonge to another tour member who had taken the wrong bag. Both bags were blue but one was small and one quite large.

  5. posted by Rick Lobrecht on

    I have several laminated luggage tags with my business card in it. It has my office address, office phone number, work cell phone number, and work email address. With that I can be found, or my luggage can get back to me, but none of my personal information is revealed.

    Big box office stores, copy stores (think Kinkos), etc. often have the ability to make them.

  6. posted by Marion on

    I make my family’s luggage tags at Shutterfly.com. They’re very nice, thick plastic, come in 2 different sizes, and there are many styles, colors to choose from. You can also personalize them with your desired personal contact info, favorite travel photos, fav quotes, or whatever you like.

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