Following my post warning about checking in batteries, I began thinking through what else should not fly. Out of my 1120+ flights, on five occasions I have checked luggage that has not arrived. As a result, I have had to report to the “lost luggage room”. I have been amazed at what other people declare what they have in their luggage!
In summary, do not put anything valuable, dangerous and illegal in your checked baggage:
A. Antiques, Art objects, artifacts, furs, Game trophies, antlers, and pelts, heirlooms and sculptures – ship them home with insurance
B. Batteries; car batteries, wet cell batteries are not permitted and are dangerous
C. Cash or currency – If you travel with currency, always keep it on you and do not forget that there are limits on how much currency, you can carry over international borders
D. Documents, securities, Business contracts, Negotiable papers – seriously?
E. Electronic equipment/devices, personal electronic equipment/devices, including cameras. In 2013, El Al Airlines set up a hidden camera in a baggage hold which showed baggage handlers stealing items on flights bound for Israel, including iPhones, iPads, cameras, gold rings and cash.
F. Fireworks, Matches,blasting caps, Dynamite, Gunpowder (including black powder and percussion caps), dynamite, flares, plastic explosives and grenades
G. Gases including aerosols (with the exception of personal care items in limited quantities), carbon dioxide cartridges, liquid nitrogen, mace, scuba tanks
H. Hoverboards; airlines have banned these because of the risk of combustion.
I. Illicit Drugs; at least 33 countries and territories prescribe the death penalty for drugs in law. At least ten have a mandatory death penalty for drugs. Last year, there were almost 900 people on death row for drugs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan, and more in China, Iran and Vietnam. In 2013, more than 500 people were believed to have been executed for drugs. These include tourists. No one is immune.
J. Jewelry, precious stones or watches; you are setting yourself up to have your luggage pilfered. In the El Al example, mentioned before, a $5,000 Seiko watch was stolen. Who packs a $5000 watch?
K. keys – have these in your hand luggage. You do not want to arrive home without them.
L. Laptop Computers – have you seen how people throw bags around? Never, ever leave your laptop in your suitcase
M. Medications – Keep necessary medication with you at all times -if your suitcase is delayed or goes missing, you won’t have access to what you need. I have seen grown men have been in tears over medications. In 2015, there were 207,606 claims of lost luggage in the USA filed with the Department of Transportation. Out of the millions that are checked, it is not many, but if your bag and it contains something important…
N. Drain cleaners, acids, alkalis, lye, and mercury,
O. Original manuscripts, rare or irreplaceable books, publications, collectibles (such as comics).
P. Poisons including arsenic, cyanide, insecticides, pesticides, rat poisons,weed killers, and Infectious materials
R.Radioactive materials with some exceptions
T. Telescopes and binoculars and optical devices including eyeglasses. If they go missing, your holiday can be ruined for at least a few days.
V. Vegetation, plants and fruit – they will die or be confiscated in many jurisdictions
W. Weapons. Most countries allow people to carry unloaded guns and ammunition in their checked in luggage. In some cases, you need to pack them in a locked, hard-sided container. Other weapons are usually banned.
X. X-rated and R -Rated Sexual materials and Pornography – in most Western countries, with the exception of child pornography, it is legal for anyone to fly with most forms of pornography. In many countries, however, there are significant penalties. (There is also the embarrassment of your bag being opened in public for an inspection).
Z. Zoological specimens including snakes, lizards, birds, dogs, Cats, birds or Goldfish – do I need to say anything more?
It is unlikely the airline will compensate you for any of these things. Most airlines have lists of what they will not cover if your luggage is lost, stolen, damaged or delayed, that are a mile long! Also the maximum liability for luggage is about $1500 for international flights. It varies country by country for domestic flights. In the USA it is a maximum $3,400.
To protect yourself:
- Avoid travelling with valuables. For example, leave the jewllry at home. Only pack books, chocolate and clothes in your luggage!
- Ship stuff with insurance.
- Put valuables in your carry-on or wear them
- Place your carry on in the overhead locker opposite your seat so you can keep an eye on it. If someone opens the bin above you, they may be rummaging through your bag without you realisng it
- Lock your hand luggage
- Have your valuables in a smaller bag inside your carry on. If you are forced to check your carry on, you can grab the smaller bag