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Aussie tourist in Bali baffled by cable tie on luggage - here's why it's there

An Australian traveller has taken to social media to find out why one of her suitcases came out of an airport conveyor belt in Bali with an orange cable tie on one of the handles.

The woman, who posted a photo of her luggage in the Facebook group Bali Bogans, asked other members if they knew what the band on her suitcase was all about.

"Does anyone know what this cable tie on our bags means? Arrived last night and one bag took a bit longer and came out with this tag. I’m guessing it was inspected?" the woman asked in a post.

Suitcase with orange cable tie and Jetstar tag on handle, pictured at Bali hotel
One woman's query about why her suitcase came out with an orange cable tie has confused fellow Bali travellers. Source: Facebook

Travellers offer theories behind tag

Other members of the group had apparently experienced the same thing at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, but many were baffled about the reason behind the odd find.

"Oh nooooooo gives me nightmares these cable ties! I got pulled up back in 2019. Mine was green and they pulled me up and searched and charged me $300 AUD," one woman related.

"I was carrying Bluetooth speakers as gifts for my friends. They gave me option to leave at airport and pick up on way home," the woman continued, explaining that she chose to pay the fee instead.

"I had a tag on mine and it got searched. I was carrying lactose free long life milk," another traveller commented.

Another person related having two bags with cable ties on them. "We had our bags inspected by customs as we brought a lot of food over for friends who live in Bali. Once checked we were given the all good to go."

The author of the post, however, said she was not pulled up by customs, to which other members replied she was lucky as their bags had been searched in the past after being tagged.

Travellers moving through airport in Bali
Airline Tactical Solutions Managing Director Martin Engeler has revealed why the cable ties are sometimes added to luggage in Bali. Source: Getty Images

"That happened to me many years ago. It was a brand new suitcase and they put a big white cross on the side of it. I was less than impressed," one member shared.

Another traveller explained that chalk was previously used in Bali to mark certain bags after X-ray. "The baggage ties just mean you have something in your luggage they think you shouldn't have. Mainly extra alcohol," he added.

What the tags are really for

The hypothesis around the cable ties is not wrong.

Martin Engeler, Managing Director of Brisbane-based aviation security consultancy firm Airline Tactical Solutions, explained to Yahoo News Australia that Bali airport personnel in fact used yellow crayons to tag baggage in the past.

"What they used to do was mark it with a yellow crayon and put a cross on it," Mr Engeler said, adding that the mark was meant for customs to check the tagged bag.

"Baggage is screened before they come out of the airport... It tells customs to check that bag," he explained. "It's for people who try to bring in stuff like electronics."

He further explained that this system of tagging appears to have replaced the yellow crayon marks, which might be a relief for travellers who would prefer not to have an expensive Louis Vuitton bag marked with a yellow cross.

Mr Engeler also revealed that cable ties are also used by airport personnel to secure luggage that they suspect had been tampered with.

Regarding the colour of tags, Engeler confirmed that the orange cable tie seen on the suitcase pictured is not airline related at all, and is really more of a "Bali thing".

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