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An odd question, I know.

I'm expecting to arrive with a full-size carry-on, containing some stuff I brought on the flight but don't want to carry any further, some stuff I'll transfer into my main baggage between collecting it from the belt and dropping it off with WFS for onward delivery, and some stuff I'll carry with me in a much smaller bag waiting in my main suitcase. I don't really want to elaborate on why this is the case as it will distract from the main question - nothing nefarious is going on, I just have a slightly complex itinerary and don't want to lug any more than I need to at any point.

I'm then left with an unwanted carry-on bag containing a few innocuous cheap unwanted possessions (nothing unpleasant, not even any dirty clothes). I'll deliberately use an old and slightly broken (torn handle) bag that I've already replaced and is currently just cluttering up my house. If it were a soft bag I'd roll it up and stuff it in a litter-bin, but it's a somewhat rigid two-wheel trolley bag that won't fit in any normal bin.

What I obviously don't want to do is leave a bag just lying around in the airport and trigger a security scare. My current best plan is to casually drop it onto a loaded baggage belt, where it can go round and round until eventually the baggage handlers recover it. There will be no obvious means of identification on it, and I will leave a note inside in English and Cantonese saying that I don't want it any more, to save them wasting any effort trying to track down an owner. Then they will presumably just dispose of it by whatever means they have for unidentifiable lost possessions.

Anyone have any better ideas? Maybe this is all needless subterfuge and there's actually a handy bulk rubbish container tucked away somewhere that I could chuck it into? In or near the baggage reclaim, ideally.

11 Answers 11

230

Ask at the airport information desk, lost property, or a luggage shop (thanks @Fattie). They most likely know some way of ensuring the contents gets given to a charity or at least recycled properly.

Subterfuge will at the very least create overhead for the airport personnel, who will have to either destroy the contents safely or hold on to it for a long time before disposing of it. And you really don't want to have to explain yourself to airport security if this spiel is noticed.

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    I think this is the best answer. Why contrive a strange plan to shed the bag surreptitiously instead of walking to a desk (or even to a security officer) and ask "Sorry, but I want to get rid of that bag, where could I drop it off?" An airport has tons of waste to dispose every day, they would know where to put it. – Dubu Feb 6 at 8:43
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    Disposing of a broken or un-needed luggage at an airport is totally straightforward. Folks commonly buy new luggage at the luggage shops, and dispose of the old one. Just leave it completely open, obviously, sitting next to a trash can. Obviously, self-evidently, any contents (clothes you don't want etc) throw them away in a trash can separately. Sure, you could ask at the help desk, they would say "leave it by that trash can over there" or they'd take it from you and do the same thing. – Fattie Feb 6 at 12:47
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    Fattie makes a good point about there being luggage shops of some description in most major airports. If you don't want to risk talking to security or real airport personnel (for some irrational fear of being detained, e.g.) then try asking the clerk at the luggage shop what to do with an old bag you don't want anymore. They probably get that specific issue more than most anyway. – Steve-O Feb 6 at 14:23
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    @Fattie what is obvious to some, isn't obvious to others. I would argue that this is the exact point of this website - and while you might think it's annoying, it could easily help others. – UKMonkey Feb 7 at 16:04
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    A lot of the existing discussion has focused on distinguishing oneself from a terrorist/bomber/etc. It occurs to me that the action of taking valuable contents from one bag, repacking in another bag, and seeking to dispose of the original bag anonymously could also be construed as the actions of a thief. Drawing attention of the relevant authorities helps avoid suspicion of other kinds of wrong-doing too - ideally keep proof it was your bag! – Steve Feb 8 at 16:52
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The fundamental problem is that what you want to do - leave a bag somewhere and depart without having it associated with you - is exactly what a bomber would want to do. Therefore, I do not believe there is any way to do this without risking being mistaken for a bomber.

I think that trying to leave a bag at an airport will inherently cause a security scare. If you are stopped at the scene, it will be unpleasant. Hong Kong airport police carry submachine guns.. If not, even if it is found out that your bag was harmless, you may be suspected of intentionally leaving your bag to cause a panic. Given the heavy surveillance normally found at airports, it is quite likely they will be able to identify you, and you may face legal trouble.

I would strongly advise against doing anything of the sort. Suck it up, take the bag away with you, and dispose of it in a less sensitive place, far away from the airport.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JoErNanO Feb 9 at 13:35
  • How can you "get stuff there without going through security"? Not through their security perhaps, but at least through a trusted security somewhere else ... – Hagen von Eitzen Feb 10 at 14:13
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    @HagenvonEitzen: I removed that part. It is applicable to some airports (e.g. in the US, domestic baggage claim is commonly landside, and you can walk to it from the street without passing through any security), but it appears this does not apply in Hong Kong. – Nate Eldredge Feb 10 at 17:21
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    One could always literally chuck it in the bin. Hong Kong bins are humongous and can literally fit a whole person (see scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1670243/… for a picture) – Henry Chan Feb 11 at 9:51
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Tell a member of airport staff that the bag is broken - perhaps even break off something to do with the handle or a wheel (in a toilet, less visible) as these bags aren't so robust. Tell then you didn't have much in it anyway, and where can you throw it away.

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    If you want to get rid of it at the airport, this is the #1 way to do it. BE OBVIOUS do not try to be subtle about it. Show it to someone official(ish), letting them know and verify for themselves that it is empty and harmless, then ask for the proper location to dispose of it. – FreeMan Feb 6 at 15:58
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    Airports must be used to luggage failing (or even no longer being needed) and needing to be disposed off. – Willeke Feb 6 at 16:08
  • Are you naively assuming that if it appears empty, it'll be considered obviously empty? A terrorist could follow your advice to pass off what appear harmless when in fact it could be a bomb in the lining, triggered by any sort of mechanism. Why would staff think your having broken off a part makes it less suspicious? As if a potential terrorist would be unable to take the trouble to do that… might as well give them the complete luggage and say why you want to dispose of it. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Feb 9 at 2:25
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    @JJJ - that's close to trolling: it inappropriately copies a comment i made below (travel.stackexchange.com/questions/131616/…), but fails to address any issue. The difference is that in the "answer" I was addressing, the bag was abandoned in a toilet. Here, a person brings the bag and explicitly asks staff advice. If you know much about security, you'll know that context is everything. – Stilez Feb 9 at 7:52
  • Breaking a piece is a measure that could be taken, easily and privately, if they wish, to make the reason for disposal self evident and hence perhaps less open to doubt when they present their bag in person. I wouldn't, but if worried, they could. Abandoning, definitely won't. – Stilez Feb 9 at 8:00
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Leave the bag, fully emptied and all pockets opened, next to the largest trash can you can find. A note saying RUBBISH/垃圾 inside would also be nice.

This way it's not going to cause a security scare, and the airport's hassle of disposing it will be minimal. It's still basically littering though, and the right thing to do would be bring the bag to somewhere else where it can be properly disposed of.

20

How do you dispose of a bag at airport A without creating a hassle for yourself and the airport staff?

You send an email to airport A's customer service and ask them how they would like you to handle the situation.

Just explain to them that you want to get rid of the carry-on bag, and a few things you do not need anymore either, after you have gotten your luggage after the flight and ask them where do you leave your no longer useful bag?

Remember that many countries have restriction on items, food etc., that they do not want into their country, these items have to be thrown away in the appropiate bins for destruction, not left around in an unaccompanied bag.

17

Take it out of the airport - I know, a bit more lugging than you'd like, and offer it to homeless folks who might actually be able to get good use out of it. Alternatively, if you see someone really struggling with carrying a lot of items at the airport (lots of airport shopping?) you could offer it to them before even leaving the airport (but after passing through customs).

  • It could easily be taken one stop on the Airport Express to the convention centre (HKD 5.5 each way currently) but I don't know that it's going to be all that much easier to dispose of there, though his chances of an unwanted cavity search will probably be exponentially less. There are also small trash cans out by the airport bus stop, but IIRC they won't accept something that large, probably intentionally. – Spehro Pefhany Feb 8 at 14:12
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    "if you see someone really struggling with carrying a lot of items at the airport (lots of airport shopping?) you could offer it to them before even leaving the airport (but after passing through customs)." -- though in terms of causing a security scare at the airport, this is probably as good as just leaving it near a rubbish bin. "Hey, random traveller, will you please take this bag and get rid of it for me?" – CompuChip Feb 11 at 13:56
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Many of the current answers focus on bomb/terrorist-related security concerns, however the first thing that came to my mind upon reading the situation was one of drug smuggling. Security may be concerned that you are abandoning the bag as it (or you) contain illegal substances. As others have mentioned, leaving the bag open and with a note doesn't mean it isn't a security risk and in fact hiding drugs in the lining of suitcases is a common method used by smugglers. I think l0b0's answer is the best course of action if you absolutely must leave the bag at the airport, but be aware that security may want you to wait while they check the bag for anything illegal. This is a much better solution than risking a misunderstanding by dumping the bag in the airport. Of course, just taking the bag out of the airport and disposing of it properly would cause the least hassle for you and least concern for airport security.

9

You could use a thin, flexible duffel bag that you can roll up to a compact form.
For example:
Duffel bag
This bag has similar capacity to a carry-on when in use. After the flight, you can transfer any items to a larger checked bag and/or trash bin, and the entire bag folds into a relatively thin, flexible disk with the profile of the circle at the end (the horizontal zipper closes the bag into its own pocket and holds it in that form). You can roll this up further and fit it in a reasonably large pants pocket, or in/attached to the larger suitcase. Then you can use it again in the future, as many times as you want. (Or you can more easily give it away / throw it away.)

8

I would recommend taking the bag to lost property. You can either tell them the truth or tell them you found it. That way you won't cause a security scare, and the bag may get a new owner.

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    I don't see any reason for OP to "tell them [he] found it" or tell them anything other than the truth, if he chooses to do this. It would be a pointless lie. – V2Blast Feb 6 at 7:34
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    Isn't "Hi, I found this abandoned bag, and decided to jostle it about and bring it right in front of you instead of leaving it alone and tucked out of the way" more likely to cause a scare? – Chronocidal Feb 6 at 8:47
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    Yeah - don't tell them you found it. They will ask you where and when (so they can review who left it). Now you have to tell another lie and this is one that they will be checking with CCTV. Then they figure out you're lying and wonder why. Then the fun starts... – Dancrumb Feb 6 at 14:02
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    @DJClayworth Hidden in the lining, and a time-delay on the trigger? "Looks Empty" is a fairly simple tactic to devise – Chronocidal Feb 6 at 17:15
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    @Chronocidal if it's still in the secure area of baggage claim that seems very far-fetched. Rather than blow up the plane it was just on the terrorist would try to blow up the lost property desk? Very implausible.. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Feb 9 at 2:10
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I'm going to go with a different angle here and just outright recommend you don't go through the hassle of disposing of it at the airport. It's a very unusual request, airport staff are busy enough as it is and lots of people have raised sensible points about perceiving it as a security risk. Plus, disposing of suitcases is a pain, as they're not readily recyclable.

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    Not only a pain but it has a monetary cost to dispose of the case. – Notts90 Feb 9 at 16:39
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If it is not immediately obvious that there is nothing inside, then it is a potential security risk. If the case is made from fabric and was checked up until the point of disposal, then you could pack scissors and cut the fabric off, roll it up and throw it away, then bend the frame until it's also small enough to fit in a bin.

Anything else is just turning your problem into someone else's problem.

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    That's going to look suspicious on CCTV in the baggage collection area. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 6 at 11:25
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    There are few, if any solutions that wouldn't look suspicious to the casual observer. – user91793 Feb 7 at 14:44
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    Agreed (which is why the whole idea is bad to begin with), though the guys watching you on CCTV are hardly "the casual observer", and the outcome of looking suspicious to them is not to be cast aside lightly. That's why I don't think it should be suggested. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 7 at 14:48
  • If Hong Kong is anything like the US, you are not going to be able to get scissors through security. – nasch Feb 7 at 21:41
  • @nasch, why not? Inherent in the premise is that OP has a checked bag... – Peter Taylor Feb 8 at 8:13

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