Always Keep Your Luggage Tags With You When Traveling Domestically Within China

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I noticed something very interesting when traveling domestically within China over the past week. Yesterday I got home after flying from Shenzhen to Kunming to Lijiang to Shenzhen, and got to visit a few stunning airport terminals. However, that’s not the point of this post.

a large white building with many people with London King's Cross railway station in the backgroundShenzhen Airport Departures Terminal

Last Saturday evening I flew on China Southern’s A320 from Shenzhen to Kunming to Lijiang, and checked in a piece of luggage. It was a pleasant flight, and my luggage made it to the baggage carousel in Lijiang.

a group of people standing in a lineLijiang Airport Arrivals Hall

Before leaving the luggage claim area, we were asked to present our luggage tags stuck to the back of our boarding passes. We were handed new boarding passes during our transfer in Kunming, and our luggage tags were ripped off from our old boarding passes, which the airport staff took, and handed back to us. Unfortunately, along the way I had lost my luggage tag, so I couldn’t verify that the luggage was mine. Crap! Thankfully, the airport staff told us that this was just a security formality, and let us all go with our luggage.

Unfortunately the encounter didn’t cross my mind until after I’d gotten off the flight on my return yesterday from Lijiang to Shenzhen, where I realised I’d left my boarding pass in the seat pocket of the seat in front of me (typically the luggage tag is stuck to the back of the boarding pass, so I thought I’d left that on the plane as well).

a row of blue seats with white towels on themChina Southern Airbus A320 Economy Class

Thankfully we were traveling as a group, and the group leader had my back this time, as all the luggage tags were stuck to his boarding pass. The process also seemed like a formality at Shenzhen Airport, as the airport staff didn’t even seem to count the luggage tags before he waved us all through.

a large hall with people walkingShenzhen Airport Baggage Carousel Area

Bottom Line

As the process happened at both Shenzhen and Lijiang Airport, I’m pretty sure that this luggage tag check isn’t a one-off. On one hand, this isn’t China’s dumbest aviation policy, since I can actually see cases where people are prevented from stealing/accidentally taking someone else’s luggage due to this luggage tag check. However, there has to be a better way to ensure people don’t lose their luggage tags, as not once during either process were we reminded not to lose the luggage tags. Either way, you should always make sure your luggage tag stays with you at all times when traveling domestically within China.

Have you ever been screwed over by this policy before?

1 comment

  1. Something similar happened to me in Lisbon a few month ago. Was arriving from Germany on TAP. I had already removed my luggage tags from my luggage (trying to save time as I often forget it in the hotel) and customs stopped me. Glad I still had my boarding pass with the luggage tag copy.

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