The practice of wrapping suitcases in plastic wrap is prevalent in many countries, but Americans rarely do so. This difference in approach often surprises travelers from other nations.

A user asked the forum, “Why is it not common for Americans to wrap their suitcases?”. Let’s look at the top responses.


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“It got me searched by customs one time.”


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“I noticed this for the first time when I flew to England last month; a TON of people had their bags all wrapped up. I never even knew it was a thing before then. I thought it was kind of crazy that they thought it was necessary.

I can honestly say I’ve never, ever considered that someone would go through my bag and steal stuff. Like, the only thing that’s ever in my bag is clothes, toiletries, and maybe some cheap souvenirs. So, there really isn’t even anything to steal that would be worth the effort/risk.

Any expensive stuff like my laptop or tablets in my carry-on or backpack, which, of course, never leaves my possession.

Honestly, wrapping it up arguably wouldn’t even do much to prevent theft anyway. As you say, the TSA is allowed to open any bag at any time, so even if I did wrap it up, they could just cut through it at any point and dig through it, and they definitely aren’t going to wrap it back up.

I mean, I guess if they don’t search it, then ya, it would keep other people from digging through it, but I just don’t see the point.”


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“Theft from checked luggage isn’t that much of a problem in the US, and if the TSA decides they want to open your bag, they will open it, cutting locks and tearing wraps as necessary.”


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“I’ve never thought of a baggage handler stealing from luggage. I guess we’re a high-trust society. I would think the airline is liable for the damages, like if the luggage was lost.

The baggage handler could only really get away with it like once before their employers connect the dots and figure out who was working every time theft is reported.”


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“I know exactly two scenarios where people shrinkwrap their luggage:

When they are afraid, it will be stolen. This is not something we really worry about.

When the thing is a box, you need the extra structural integrity. I’ve usually seen this on flights between India and the Middle East as some of the passengers cannot afford proper suitcases.”


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“The Brazilian student says, it’s only slightly for theft. He said it is mostly done so smugglers don’t put stuff in your luggage, and you can tell if they tampered with your luggage.

Smugglers can pay to have something stuffed in at baggage handling. They then snap a picture of the luggage. Send a picture to the person on the plane. That person grabs your bag at the other end. If smuggled items are found, it’s your problem, not theirs.”


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“I don’t put anything of any importance into a checked bag.”


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“Because that is a horrifying amount of single-use plastic.”


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“I saw this when I lived in Asia, and it seemed incredibly wasteful and pointless to me.”


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“I don’t get what the plastic wrap would stop; if TSA or customs wanted to go through my bag, they would just go through my bag. Even the TSA locks just stop the TSA from cutting my lock off.”


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“I typically don’t travel with anything expensive. My baggage only ever has a few outfits, pajamas, and a pair of tennis shoes. Not worth wrapping up.”


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“There was a period several years ago when corrupt cops and airport personnel would conspire and plant a bullet in passenger luggage in the Philippines so they could extort either cash or bail between $600 and $1700 USD.

That was the only time I’ve seen a few Americans wrap their luggage in plastic while traveling from LA to the Philippines. I have confidence nothing sinister or stupid like that would transpire here in the US.”


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“Everything I do when I pack to travel through the airport is done for efficiency and simplicity. In the US, TSA may open and examine the contents of luggage for any reason or no reason. Locking the bags or wrapping them up in something just takes more of my time, potentially making me late or missing a flight.

If someone is going to steal something, they will, regardless of whether it has plastic on it or a cheap lock. They could just steal the whole bag at that point, and I have no control over any of this.”

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