We’ve all seen it at the airport, albeit more often overseas than in the U.S. – suitcases that have been wrapped in layer up on layer of plastic wrapping. Even wonder about it? Why it’s done? Do they do it at home? At the airport? Somewhere else? How much is it?
We found out.
The process began about 20 years ago, give or take. The reason is simple enough – it’s another layer of protection for your bag because it slows down would-be thieves (who want to steal things as quickly as possible) who might open your bag ( because look how easy it is to break into a locked suitcase). It also gives your luggage some extra protection from dirt, scrapes, stains, rain/snow, etc. AND if your bag is overstuffed, it can help prevent the locks or zippers from failing and your bag bursting open. So that’s all well and good.
Unfortunately, that plastic isn’t reusable and isn’t always biodegradable. But at least some companies use 100% recyclable plastic that’s more environmentally friendly (the companies that sell these even suggest you remove the plastic in the baggage claim area as soon as you’ve picked up your bags, so it can be recycled at the airport). More unfortunately, if the TSA (or whatever national security body is of the country you’re in) wants to get into your bag, they will rip that plastic right off, no questions asked.
But other than that, it works well for its intended use.
Not all airports offer this service, and you’ll see many more of them in Europe and Asia than you will in the United States. But in the U.S., look for Secure Wrap at Miami-MIA, Houston-IAH and New York-JFK (Secure Wrap is actually the only authorized provider who partners with the TSA and they’ll even provide a complimentary rewrap if your bag needs to be opened by the TSA). Other luggage wrapping companies that don’t have a U.S. presence at this time are Seal & Go and Truestar.
Wrapping usually costs between $15 and $22 per bag (give or take) and the wrapping takes about 1 minute per bag. Kiosks should be easy to find in the terminals that offer the service, usually not far from check in.
There are also YouTube video that teach you how to do this yourself using either typical food grade Cling Wrap/Saran Wrap type plastic wrap, or a larger roll (you can get them at places that sell packing material, such as U-Haul, Amazon, etc), but then you have to be concerned about, among other things, it not being recyclable.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary