Anyone who has purchased airline tickets online may have noticed a box asking if they would like to purchase baggage insurance. It can be worth purchasing, especially if a person is traveling with a lot of valuables.
Here is a familiar scene: a person visits a travel website to purchase plane tickets for an upcoming trip, either to go on vacation, travel for business or to attend to some personal matter or family function. Among the many things that will be asked of said ticket purchaser is whether they would like to purchase some form of baggage or luggage insurance.
Most people will click “no.” Why pay more than the cost of the ticket on top of checked bag fees? It isn’t as if buying the insurance is going to bring in-flight meals back. However, some people come to rue the decision after their bags have been plundered.
Epidemic of theft
The vast majority of baggage handlers and screeners are law abiding people but a small number aren’t. The total damage done by baggage theft isn’t known, but the instances of it are egregious when they are discovered.
According to the Daily Mail, an estimated 200 thefts occur daily at JFK International Airport, much of which is simply written off as “lost.” One passenger recently had $160,000 of jewelry stolen out of her bags.
One Transportation Security Administration baggage screener at Los Angeles International was arrested in June 2011, according to the Los Angeles Times, on suspicion of stealing nearly $30,000 of items from people’s luggage. It was the second such arrest of a TSA employee at LAX in as many months.
According to Wall Street Journal, two baggage handlers from JFK, one a crew chief, employed by American Airlines, were arrested in 2009 for stealing a bag of jewelry worth $280,000. That same year, a couple in Phoenix was discovered with stacks of luggage stolen from the airport in their home.
Don’t be a target
Items commonly targeted for theft include electronics like iPods and iPads, laptop computers and jewelry. However, stolen items can range from golf balls to half of one man’s freshly-caught 75-pound halibut that he was transporting home on ice, according to CBS. Also, according to the Daily Mail, one’s baggage can make him or her a target. Designer luggage is tantamount to a bull’s-eye for thieves.
According to ABC, whether or not a person should purchase baggage insurance depends on what they are traveling with. If one is traveling with a cheap bag they bought from Walmart for less than $50 that’s full of old clothes and toiletries, there isn’t too much cause for worry. However, if one is transporting anything of considerable value, the insurance is worth it. Anything of value that cannot be carried on should be photographed and inventoried, as airlines are not the most amenable to paying a claim without some sort of documentation, according to the Daily Mail.