Safe Travel Tip: Don't Pack Valuables in Checked Bags

Q:Hey, Rick! Where should I pack my valuables on my next flight to be sure nothing happens to them?

A:The short answer: Don’t pack valuables. Yes, bags can get lost and although it’s rare, belongings can be stolen from checked luggage. That’s apparently what happened recently to talk show host Laura Ingraham who reported a loss of $11,000 worth of jewelry from her checked-bag (the kicker: she borrowed most of this bling from a neighbor).

If you must bring valuables, either wear them or carry them on your person. As a last resort, put them in your carry-on bag (but know that there have been allegations of overhead bins being rifled through while passengers were sleeping during red-eye flights).

But aren’t the airlines responsible for the valuables you packed? Not necessarily. If you look at the contract-of-carriage for American Airlines for example (and other carriers have similar “we’re-not-responsible” clauses), you will see that in the event of loss or damage to a bag or its contents, there is no compensation for “valuables” which are defined as heirlooms, documents, electronics, eyeglasses, contact lenses, furs, medicines and much more, plus, of course, jewelry.

So be smart. If you must bring those diamond studs, wear them. The iPod should go in your pocket, and hand-carry the iPad.

Take FareCompare’s Advice: If you don’t want to lose it, leave it at home.

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Published: November 7, 2011