The oft-repeated airport instruction is simple: Don't leave your luggage unattended. So why is it that there is always that person who will sit next to you at Starbucks near the gate and say, "Can you just watch my luggage while I go to the bathroom?"
Yes, you want to be polite... but no, you should never do this. First of all — as already stated — it's against the rules. You have no idea what's contained in the luggage, and it could be unsafe or illegal. And even as a practical matter — assuming the best of people — you can't be taking responsibility for bags when two minutes turns to 15 because there is a long line in the bathroom and you've got. to. go.
Here's our canned suggestion for you to practice and repeat: "I wish I could, but boarding is about to be called."
Or be a bit bolder, and come out with something stronger that can serve as a teachable moment for a fellow passenger: "I'd rather not, as I don't want to be responsible for it." If you feel bad, remember that the asker is the one in the wrong to begin with — and is at best an amateur traveler and at worst someone with nefarious intentions.
In an online forum, one flyer shared a story they said happened when they agreed to watch someone's luggage... and "last boarding" was called. They explained that they were watching someone's bags and were almost denied boarding as the staff told them they could not board until the person came back and got their luggage, as now the watcher would be the one leaving the luggage unattended — and that's against the rules. They were made to wait until he came back and almost missed their flight.
So let's review: Don't ask. Don't say yes when asked. And everyone's happier.
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