Why do people wrap cases in plastic cling film at airports? Explained

You may have seen suitcases wrapped in plastic cling film on baggage carousels at airports around the world – but what is for, how do you get it done and is it worth doing? Here we answer all your questions.

Bags wrapped in plastic film being loaded onto a planeBags - many wrapped in plastic film - being loaded onto a plane. What is the wrap for and is it worth it?  (Credit: Pixabay)

What is wrapping bags in plastic cling film for? Bag wrapping explained

Companies at airports around the UK and globally, offer this bag wrapping service using extra-strong cling film-like material to encase suitcases and other items of luggage before they are checked in and loaded onto the departing aircraft.

Why do people have their cases, bags and other luggage wrapped in plastic film before flying?

It is something we have all seen many of us have no idea what it is for. Well, according to those who are fans of wrapping bags and cases before flights, it brings the following benefits:

Protection against germs and bacteria while in transit: In a time when the likes of Covid-19, monkey pox and chicken pox are all on travellers’ minds, having your baggage handled by multiple amounts of people in airports around the world could expose contents to contamination. Bag wrap firms claim that wrapping will create a barrier to such bacteria and different types of virus – and protect your luggage.

Helping to prevent damage to luggage: With many suitcases and bags costing hundreds of pounds, many travellers believe that covering them in plastic wrap will help protect them from minor damage such as scratches and adverse weather conditions as they are loaded onto planes and baggage carousels at busy airports.

Prevent theft or alert passengers to possible crimes: With the bag or luggage wrapped in many layers of plastic, it will be harder for would-be thieves to target the bags without having to spend a lot of time cutting their way in. The theory is that they would simply cut their losses and move on to suitcases without the plastic covering.

Additionally, damage the plastic wrapping will help alert travellers to potential crimes sooner and enable them to report the issue as soon as possible at the airport.

Stopping cases and bags bursting open: With restrictions on the amount of bags that people can take without paying to gain extra allowance, many people pack as much into bags as they – and their weight limit will allow. However, this can lead to zip failures, which could see your possession spilled out and lost in the system. Wrapping the bag in plastic cling film-like material can give extra security to prevent this happening.

Getting luggage insurance: Many of the bag wrap companies offering the service at airports will include additional insurance for your bags – should they be lost, damaged or stolen.

However, most people will already have some form of baggage insurance included on their own travel policy – so the value of additional coverage may not be of much use – you cannot claim twice for the same lost luggage and doing so could result in legal action.

What sort of luggage can be wrapped for air travel?

Types of travel luggage that can be wrapped include the following types of items.

  • Suitcases
  • Hand luggage for taking into the cabin
  • Backpacks
  • Golf bags and other equipment
  • Ski equipment
  • Fishing rods and other such equipment
  • Children’s pushchairs
  • Child car seats
  • Wheelchairs
  • Musical instruments

How much does luggage wrapping typically cost?

Having your bag wrapped is likely to cost from £15 per item without additional insurance. Adding insurance to the service will typically see prices of £20+.

Where can I get my bag wrapped?

Simply search for services at the airports you will be travelling from. Many will let you book a spot in advance, but it is likely you can turn up and have the service carried out without booking.

Can I wrap my own cases at home?

Yes. While there are services offered at most airports, travellers can purchase their own strong plastic wrap from various online sources with prices starting at around £7.

However, there will be none of the extras involved, such as insurance, which are typically offered by providers at the terminal.

Anyone wrapping at home should also ensure they leave a handle or other tagging area free, for the check-in staff at the airport to attach a baggage label. 

Will airport security avoid opening my bag or re-wrap it if not?

Having your bag wrapped will not deter airport security officers from inspecting the contents of your bag if required. Additionally, they will not re-wrap the bag, either.

Is it worth wrapping bags in plastic film for my flight?

There a pros and cons to wrapping bags, but it certainly is not something that many would consider a travel essential - especially as the cost of air travel continues to increase. But, if you have the latest designer luggage that you want to keep in pristine condition, or deter thieves from targeting your bags, then wrapping could make sense for you.

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