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Airports have many checks, but typically none in the luggage claim area. Why does typically nobody check whether one picked up one's own luggage (and not somebody else's or forgetting one's luggage) at the airport's luggage claim area? I'm curious if the reason is simply that there's no need for that, and/or is motivated by the desire to save airport's money or passenger's time, or some other reason.


Close voters: this isn't at all opinion-based, airport authorities most likely have made some statements about and/or released statistics, and there are plenty of research papers on airports e.g. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jairtraman.2004.09.004

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    There are some airports/airlines which check more frequently. I remember the time I lost my receipt, in "nowhere" in Russia (so I could also not talk with locals). In general, it seems that in small airports check are more frequent (bored people, looking for small talk?), but I had your exact question often. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 23 '20 at 15:37
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    I have also wondered at least why not more luggage is stolen in the pickup area. I guess the chances for being caught are simply to high. If you snitch an arbitrary bag from the conveyor belt, the chances are pretty high that the real owner is nearby waiting for his luggage and will see what you are doing. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 23 '20 at 15:49
  • I imagine the probability of stealing luggage with high value items also isn't great. People will likely take those in their carry-on or pay for more secure shipping. – pboss3010 Sep 23 '20 at 16:15
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    @Willeke In the US, that's generally true for domestic flights. – mkennedy Sep 23 '20 at 16:47
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"Bang for the buck" mostly.

In the US you can certainly walk into any airport's domestic arrival area and grab any bag you like. Apparently it's not enough of a problem to warrant any type of control

  1. Generally you would end up with a beaten-up bag or suitcase and a lot of dirty laundry that won't fit you. That's not a particularly attractive target.
  2. The chance of getting caught is quite high. Since there is no customs or immigration, passengers are typically faster than the bags.
  3. Cost and complexity of the control is high. You would need to fundamentally change the layout and gate off the baggage claim area and staff tag controls. It's probably a lot cheaper to just compensate the passenger for the few stolen bags.
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    The baggage claim area is often under CCTV surveillance too, and periodically in the US the airport police catches someone for theft, which helps prevent anyone from making a career out of it. – Zach Lipton Sep 23 '20 at 18:41
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    did you mean no customs and immigration? – RiaD Sep 24 '20 at 0:10
  • Immigration is between getting off the plane and collecting luggage, customs after collecting luggage. But only on international flights. – Willeke Sep 24 '20 at 8:14
  • Sorry, the note about immigratioin was a typo. On international arrivals it's possible that your bags are on the belt before you get there since immigration can be slow, but for domestic arrivals that's rare. – Hilmar Sep 24 '20 at 12:32

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