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Recently I booked a connecting flight with two different carriers (same PNR). There is an 8.5-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I didn't want to recheck-in my baggage so I confirmed with the airline of the originating flight that they would give me baggage tags to the final destination.

She said yes but warned me that there could be some trouble with your baggage as it would be on the ground for more than 8 hours, so it is better you collect them and check-in again. I was perplexed about what she meant by that. I asked her why she said that and who was going to cause trouble to my bags. She did not answer my question and just repeated the same warning.

In the end, I said, it's okay I'll take the risk.

Are there really any risks in keeping check-in bags "on the ground" for a long layover (i.e. not collecting them and rechecking-in)?

  • Bags are left unattended during long layovers, so easier targets for criminals. Bags in active travel tend to be less so. But it is realistically simply a matter of chance if your bag is in the wrong place when a thief wanders past. – user13044 Oct 11 '17 at 7:03
  • @Irked I assume bags are placed in some sort of storage area with CCTV monitoring and security, before it is transferred to next flight. Correct? – user13107 Oct 11 '17 at 7:08
  • Nope. They are often put in containers destined for certain flights or piled on trolleys in the baggage conveyor area. – user13044 Oct 11 '17 at 7:13
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    Using a separate room would greatly increase the other risk, that the bag will be forgotten and not be placed on the outgoing flight. Its best chance of actually arriving is if there is a trolley already set up for the outgoing flight and it gets sorted to that trolley on arrival. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 11 '17 at 12:42
  • No idea. I am surprised at the statement about KL. It's a huge airport and they handle so much luggage efficiently. You an even check luggage in at the train station and it will be on your flight hours later. – Itai Nov 17 '17 at 14:23
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This was likely an oblique reference to the fact that KLIA has a reputation for baggage theft. Some time ago, this even made the news when police busted a ring involving airport staff:

http://m.aviationweek.com/awin/kl-airport-security-staff-arrested-theft-charges

Basically, the people operating the X-rays were tipping off the baggage handlers about which bags contained juicy targets. While the people involved in this scam were arrested, anecdotal evidence says similar things continue to happen.

All that said, I'm not sure it makes much difference if your bags are in transit or whether you check them out/in, they'll have to go through baggage handling in either case. In your shoes I would probably just check them through, but be extra careful about not having valuables in and bring all essentials in carry-on luggage.

3

The problem with baggage handling during long layovers is misplacement rather than theft at most airports. Whether the airport has a modern, fully automated baggage handling system or a fully manual one (yes tehre are still small airports doing this), the process is largely always the same.

  1. The arriving luggage is sorted and forwarded to target (baggage retrieval or next flight).
  2. The baggage for the next is collected in a defined location.
  3. The airport may have the collection area ready only x hours before that flight departs.
  4. Exceptions to the process are handled manually with all such luggage stored in "room for exception".
  5. Humans make errors.

You can minimize the impact and the risk of theft by making sure all important stuff is in your backpack (you are a smart traveller and use a backpack, do you?).

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The risk is primarily to miscreants working the ramp, baggage system and security.

Meaning, thieves and smugglers can be found in nearly every airport and 8 hours gives them plenty of time to access your baggage. Airports and airlines use all sorts of protective measures so 99.999% (rhetorical figure, I do not have actual statistics) of bags go untouched, but criminals are crafty.

Wrapping the bag in plastic is a great deterrent in that the bad guys will move to a softer target.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.

  • This Answer was 100% correct from the start, but since it got wrongly downvoted, I figured I'd give them a reason. – Johns-305 Nov 19 '17 at 16:27
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    Please don't vandalize your answers. – David Richerby Nov 19 '17 at 19:00
  • @DavidRicherby Like I said, it's already downvoted for no reason. I'm just giving them a reason. Note, all parts are referenced. – Johns-305 Nov 19 '17 at 22:16
  • No, it was just petulant vandalism. Please don't do that. – David Richerby Nov 19 '17 at 22:17
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    How it's supposed to work is that you post an answer which you believe to be correct, in order to help the community at large. What you're actually doing is posting an answer which you know to be false, to punish the community for disagreeing with you. – David Richerby Nov 20 '17 at 17:07

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