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Baggage wrapping: Brilliant or stupid?

It hasn’t yet taken off in the US, but checked-luggage wrapping stations are cropping up in airports around the world. For a fee, an attendant will encase your suitcase in plastic wrap. A few small incisions to restore access to the handles and wheels, and off you go.

I’m admittedly a skeptic, though I jealously wonder how fat the margins are in this business.

On the one hand, I see the logic: If it’s wrapped tightly with plastic, it’s less likely to break open or be damaged by moisture. Some of these services, such as SecureWrap, also include some luggage insurance in the cost of the wrapping.

But how much protection is this, really? An airport security official looking to inspect your bag’s contents will just cut the plastic right off. A determined thief will do the same. How much protection is this, really? And for 6 euros (the price charged at Madrid) or 9 dollars (the price at JFK) per item, is this money well spent?