Aussie tourist stumped over discovery on baggage in Bali

The tiny but significant detail was first noticed at the airport.

An Aussie traveller in Bali has been left stumped after two of his suitcases were returned to him with mystery cable ties dangling off the handles, just moments after touching down at Denpasar Airport.

The man said on social media that he noticed the ties had been clipped to his luggage shortly after landing in Indonesia, prompting speculation over what officials use them for, and why certain bags were targeted in the unique coding system.

"Landed last night and has a cable tie on both suitcase handles," the man wrote on Facebook in confusion. "Anyone know what this means?"

The post attracted a host of responses from people sharing their similar experiences, many revealing what they believed the ties represent.

A green cable tie is seen strapped to a suitcase.
An Aussie tourist has been left stumped over an discovery on his baggage in Bali. Source: Facebook.

"I thought it was for heavy bags," a person said. "It just means they want to search your bag," another said.

"It means something has shown up in the X-rays and they want to check your bag as you leave," hypothesised another. "They only do it if the guys at customs see the cable tie, in future, put your hand over it on the way out."

Expert weighs in

It's not the first time an Australian traveller posted about after noticing the ties attached to their luggage, with a similar incident occurring in 2022.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia at the time, aviation expert Martin Engeler revealed the reason behind the tags, and what each colour means, to be a mix of a few factors.

He explained that Bali airport personnel in fact used yellow crayons to tag baggage in the past and recently had swapped to the cable tie system.

"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 said. "It's for people who try to bring in stuff like electronics."

Tourist looking at Diamond beach from above, Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Bali has strict rules in place to combat misbehaving travellers. Source: Getty

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 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, he confirmed that the orange cable tie seen on the suitcase pictured in 2022 is not airline related at all, and is really more of a "Bali thing".

Aussies urged not to remove tags

The online debate of the tags' use also prompted a similar conversation about the correct way to proceed if you find yourself with a marked bag.

While some had urged travellers to simply "cut the tag off" once they had been strapped to luggage, one woman pointed out that would be unwise.

"I can’t believe how many comments I read on posts giving people bad advice," she wrote.

"Cut it off, put your hand over it, carry nail clippers on your person to snip it off," the woman continued, listing off examples of "bad advice".

"If you have nothing wrong in your bag, then don’t worry. You are in a foreign country. It’s their rules. You’d be up in arms if something dreadful happened in your own country. Obey the rules. Respect the rules."

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.