A reader recently asked the following question about the safety of checking bags on flights into Ecuador:
“Hi! We are flying into Guayaquil in 2 weeks en route to the Galapagos. We have to stay over in Guayaquil. We have a hotel booked/Hampton Inn. I am worried when we land. I keep hearing horror stories (that we shouldn’t check bags/they will be stolen), warnings about taxis. Is there anything you can tell me that will help us? I feel a little worried. Thanks!”
We read the same things before moving to Ecuador.
We were concerned about it, but we moved with our full allotment of six bags (2 bags each). Because most luggage is a plain black color we decided to buy luggage that stood out. We figured that if someone was going to try to walk away with a bag, it wouldn’t be the purple or florescent green one. As we planned our move, we bought the ugliest bags that we could find.
Our Ugly (and Safe) Luggage
While we didn’t lose any bags, it is hard to tell if it actually worked. I don’t know if there was really a risk of losing a bag. But we did leave the airport with all our stuff.
In the photo you can see the ugliest and most mismatched set of luggage ever. We had bright red, yellow, purple and green. We did have two solid black bags – which we wrapped in a bright yellow cinch strap and added colored handles. Who would want these bags? And who would risk walking out of the airport with one? We could easily identify our bags at 500 meters!
Luggage Claim Slips
We have been through lots of airports and Ecuador is the only one that we’ve seen that controls baggage leaving the baggage claim area. When baggage is checked, you’ll receive little claim slips – usually stuck on your boarding pass. When you arrive at your destination they will always check that you have an equal number of slips and bags. Sometimes they check that the numbers correspond. This is a solid deterrent to a thief – and I would say a response to previous problems.
Make sure that you keep your baggage claim slips!
Packing For Thieves (And Inept Airlines)
Because we were aware of the possibility of losing a bag, we packed differently. Instead of packing two bags per family member, we spread all our stuff out across all the bags. That way, if a bag was lost, it wouldn’t be everything from just one family member.
We continue to pack this way. And, unfortunately, we still have a really ugly set of luggage. It does turn some heads (especially our affectionately named “booger bag” – the florescent green roller bag). We have taken dozens of flights within Ecuador and 4 international trips in the past five years and we haven’t lost anything.
Baggage theft is a concern at most airports. In researching this post, I found an article about an Ecuador-to-New York smuggling ring that stole valuables from lost luggage at JKF airport in NY. I haven’t heard of recent problems at Ecuador airports.
Now it’s your turn!
What has been your experience with baggage coming into Ecuador? Have you had problems? What do you do to keep your stuff safe?
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