This Airport Worker's Viral Travel Hack Could Save Your Bag from Getting Lost

Bag tags are more important than you think.

I won't lie—I'm an avid (and proud!) collector of bag tags. I'll get my little sticker on my bag when I check it at the desk, and then I'll leave it there forever. To me, it's always given me a vintage vibe—and let's be honest, it is also a weird flex. Proof that you get around, if you will.

My travel aesthetic, though, will probably have to change. According to a new TikTok, which recently went viral, keeping old bag tags attached to your luggage is wrong and you shouldn't be doing that.

In the video, a worker at Ontario International Airport in California explains what should—and is—already obvious to a bunch of people. If you keep old tags on your luggage, those might get scanned instead of the newest one, and your bag might end up lost. It's not like I didn't know this. I did, but somehow thought that it was an exaggeration. As it turns out, it is not.

"Let's say you flew American and then a month later you flew Southwest," explains the airport worker in the video. "Well, there's a little sticker that goes on for American that tells the computer that it should go there," he says, pointing in the direction of the American Airlines baggage pile. He then continues, "So if your month-old American sticker is on there, there is a chance it scans instead of this one. ... It might end up over there and not get on the plane."

If you're still not convinced about the truthfulness of this, other people in the airport business will tell you that it is, in fact, something that does happen. "I work at the baggage handling system and yes, this is true," says one person in the comments. "Our scanners will scan old IATA tags from previous flight if you don't remove them."

There's no need to panic, though. If you forget to remove them before your flight, there is a good chance someone at the check-in desk will help you out. "Most agents remove old tags when checking in," points out one comment.

And even if the worst-case scenario (a.k.a. your bag gets lost) happens, there's a preemptive solution for that too. As one person cleverly says in the comments, "AirTag inside and you'll always know where it is, even if it's lost."

Looking for more travel tips?

Whether you need help sneaking weed onto a plane, finding an airport where you can sign up for PreCheck without an appointment, or making sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to when your flight is canceled, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading for up-to-date travel hacks and all the travel news you need to help you plan your next big adventure.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.