I've heard some countries and/or airlines may try to examine checked baggage between checking in a bag at the origin airport and picking up the luggage at the final destination airport. I've seen airports in Toronto, San Francisco and elsewhere offer services to wrap baggage in plastic wrap, which is often an approach used to prevent such searches of checked bags.

Why do airports have this service though? People brining wrapped luggage to the airport makes sense to me as a personal choice, but why do some airports offer this service onsite?

  • 3
    Because customers pay for it? It’s a business, not a service from ‘the airport’.
    – Aganju
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:41
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    I find it's pretty rare in North America, mostly catering to international passengers, and more common in other parts of the world (South Africa in particular). Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 18:49
  • 2
    It's much, much harder for luggage handlers to steal from it.
    – user4188
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 19:31
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    It does not prevent authorities from searching your bags! They will cut the plastic if they want to look. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 20:35
  • 2
    And cut halfway through the bag while they’re doing so.
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


They offer this service because people are willing to pay for it. Whether or not it accomplished their goals is a different story.

It can be used to protect the bag from external things like rain, the belts, etc. It can be use to protect the appearance of the bag, to make it last longer. I also get the feeling that it's a cultural thing in some regions.

Keep in mind, if the airline, airport security, Customs, etc. wants to examine the bag, the plastic wrap will not stop them in the slightest.

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    A practical reason to wrap is if the bag is damaged or overstuffed, it can help prevent it from ripping open during handling. If the airline is afraid that will happen, they may also require you to get it wrapped.
    – user71659
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 3:18
  • 1
    also if a backpack has a lot of loose straps the airline may not allow it to be checked normally. I've been sent to the special goods (bikes, skis etc) area a few times where they wrapped my bag before checking it. This is free (but inconvenient) in Ireland at least. It's possible that in the same situation in the US they would have to get one of these venders to wrap your bag.
    – user59310
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 10:13

No airport I've ever seen offers this as a (free) service.

However many airports have 3rd party companies located on airport property that offer is as a paid service.

Why? For exactly the same reason that most airports have a shop that sells coffee - because customers are willing to pay for it! If customers were not willing to pay for these services (be it either luggage wrapping or coffee!) then these shops would not make money and would close - but the fact they exist shows that's not the case!

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