PETALING JAYA: ‘Tis the holiday season and don’t leave home before your bags have identification tags.
The question is – how much information should one put on the tags? Should one’s email and office address suffice?
Enquiries by The Star revealed that there were no formal guidelines or policy on the use of personal baggage tags.
Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it did not have a policy on personal baggage tags, while AirAsia said it had a systematic process to effectively reconcile and validate travellers’ details at each touch point upon check-in.
“It also helps us close the discrepancy, if any, without having to refer to written details. In addition, the details are secured and will not be displayed or transferred simply by scanning any codes.
“These steps are taken as part of our commitment to safe and secure operations, ” said AirAsia.
Generally, industry experts advised that it was best to leave out details such as the traveller’s home address.
A pilot with 13 years experience, who wanted to be identified only as Brennan, said he would not recommend attaching names and addresses to bags as it could compromise personal data.
“Airlines have an efficient baggage system which enables it to track your baggage anywhere in their network using the baggage tag or barcode sticker, which will be given to passengers with their boarding passes at check-in.
“Passengers should ensure their bags are properly tagged and retain the slip, ” he said.
Brennan advised travellers not to leave their bags unattended at any point of their travel, not allow anyone else to pack or re-pack their bags, ensure their bags were locked with TSA-approved locks and report suspected tampering of bags to airport police.
TSA stands for the Transport Security Administration, an agency under the US Department of Homeland Security.
John Chan, a traveller who had taken at least 16 flights this year, said he did not use his own baggage tag.
“For check-in bags, they would already be registered in the airline’s system with barcode stickers attached, so I feel quite assured about that, ” he said.
Chan, 30, also never leaves his boarding pass behind.
“I will usually fold my boarding pass and put it in my bag, passport sleeve or pocket until I throw it into the rubbish bin in a hotel or at home, ” he said.
Another traveller, Surendra Ananth, 29, shares a similar view.
“There’s already a barcode sticker printed by the airline, linking back to me. They can contact me if needed, ” he said.
Malaysian Association of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang (pic) said personal baggage tags, apart from the ones provided by airlines, served an important purpose to quickly and easily identify the owner of the bag.
Acknowledging that the decision to display personal information and the extent of disclosure was with the travellers, he advised against disclosing home addresses.
“MATTA would advise against writing home addresses as it may alert thieves that home owners are away. Travellers may put their office addresses on the tags instead.
“Travellers are also advised against writing mobile numbers as it is possible for another person to track down information from the number, ” he said.
Tan said travellers should remove all barcode stickers from previous flights to avoid a mix-up.
Al Masyur International Travel & Tours product development manager Nur Aliya Ebu Mansor said the agency would usually provide tags for large groups of travellers to ensure all bags were identifiable.
She said although they usually displayed names and contact numbers, the agency did not include residential addresses of travellers.
Recently, a notice bearing the British Airways (BA) logo was circulated on WhatsApp groups advising travellers against writing addresses on baggage tags or leaving the boarding pass in seat pockets.
The notice read: “Drug peddlers and other criminals may secretly stash their goods and loot in your luggage. If you clear immigration, they will go to your address to get it from you.
“Do not leave boarding pass as rubbish in the passenger seat pocket. Criminals can scan the QR code to get your full name and other details, ” the purported notice read.
A check with the BA office in Kuala Lumpur revealed that it did not issue any such notice. BA’s website also had no such information.