The Most Lawless Spot in the Airport Is Baggage Claim

A TikToker points out that it's the only place where all are used to using the "honor system."

If you've ever rushed to baggage claim after a flight due to the intrusive thought of having your luggage stolen, trust me, you're not alone—I've been there myself, and I can assure you that so have many other people.

A new video by TikTok user @arina.maks, which recently went viral on the platform with 2.6 million views as of Tuesday, sums it up quite well: "The fact [that] they control the rest of the procedures, but this thing [is] just left up to fate," reads the caption, as the video pans on an airport's carousel with a few bags on it, waiting to be picked up. As the TikToker points out with actual text on the video itself, this might be the only place on earth where an "honor system" actually works—especially if we consider that some airport arrivals are open to literally anyone, not only travelers.

And who, really, agreed on following the "rules?" No one does, we just do it. If we have to be honest, nobody is really checking if you're picking up your bag instead of someone else's. The only risk you incur is that of being caught by the actual bag owner, who might see you strolling away with all of his belongings.

According to the most recent Air Travel Consumer Report by the Department of Transportation, bags get mishandled (which includes getting lost, stolen, and delayed, among other things) more frequently than one might expect. In February of this year, the department observed that an average of six bags in 1,000 were reported mishandled, which is the same rate as the same time last year.

If that sounds like a small percentage, you might want to consider that some larger planes covering long-haul routes carry up to 400 people. In some international airports, planes of that size come and go pretty frequently every day, which means that reaching 1,000 arriving passengers doesn't take long at all.

While there seems to not be an actual rule in place to prevent someone from grabbing your bags, there are some useful tips you can follow to improve your odds. SFPD's Airport Bureau, which has a special team focusing on baggage theft, told the San Francisco Standard that placing a smart tracker like an Apple AirTag in your luggage can be very helpful in case of bag loss or theft. Additionally, you might want to consider rushing to baggage claim as soon as you get off the flight—the earlier you're there, the less time your luggage will remain unattended. Making your bag super-recognizable (with a personalized cover, strap, or band, for example) helps too. That way, if someone grabs your luggage, it will be much easier for you to spot them as well.

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