US 20040206431 A1
Checked luggage security sleeve system for airlines provides a cover or sleeve of transparent plastic sheeting having a closed end and an open end to receive a piece of luggage. The cover identifies the airline and reaches partially around the base of the piece of luggage. Security tape identifying the airline seals the free end of the sleeve under the base of the piece of luggage near the center, exposing wheels at an end or spaced along a side of the base of the piece of luggage. The tape cannot be removed without leaving evidence of tampering. If the piece of luggage is searched, the screener cuts airline tape and applies security tape printed with their logo. Self-adhesive labels with matching identification number and flight number are placed on the sleeve on each side of the luggage, which matches a passenger self-adhesive label number expediting arrival pickup.
1. A checked luggage security sleeve system for airlines and other carriers comprising:
a flexible sleeve having a closed end and an open end of sufficient dimensions to receive a piece of luggage when pulled down over the piece of luggage to be checked;
a first security tape bearing the airline identification for sealing said open end over said piece of luggage; and
a second security tape bearing the baggage screening organization identification for resealing said open end over said piece of luggage after cutting said first security tape for the purpose of searching the contents therein.
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3. The luggage security sleeve system according to
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10. A checked luggage security sleeve system for airlines and other carriers comprising a flexible sleeve having a closed end and an open end of sufficient dimensions to receive a piece of luggage when pulled down over the piece of luggage to be, checked and wherein said flexible sleeve has a central opening in said closed end of sufficient size to allow the handle of said piece of luggage to protrude from said security sleeve while maintaining said piece of luggage securely within said sleeve.
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12. The luggage security sleeve system according to
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15. The luggage security sleeve system according to
16. A method of securing checked luggage for airlines or other carriers with the luggage security sleeve system of
sliding the open end of said security sleeve downward over a piece of luggage;
adjusting the length of said security sleeve such as to overhang the bottom of said piece of luggage;
folding said open end of said luggage over the bottom of said piece of luggage and sealing said security sleeve over said piece of luggage by mounting a length of said airline security tape to said security sleeve at said open end and over the bottom of said piece of luggage proximate the center thereof;
writing the flight number on the baggage self-stick labels;
separating said baggage labels and said passenger receipt label along said perforations;
attaching said baggage labels in said receiver areas of said security sleeve on each side of said of said piece of luggage;
providing said passenger receipt label to the passenger checking said piece of baggage;
upon arrival at a destination, matching said identification number on said baggage label with the passenger receipt label for claiming of said piece of luggage; and
inspecting said airline security tape and said flexible material for signs of tampering.
17. The method of
18. The method of
cutting said airline security tape;
sliding off said security sleeve and inspecting the contents of the luggage; and
sealing said security sleeve over the bottom of said piece of luggage with said TSA logo security tape, said tampering inspection step including inspection of said TSA logo security tape.
19. The method of
20. The method of
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to luggage covers. More particularly, the present invention relates to a disposable luggage cover providing for identification of the carrier, such as an airline, and the owner/passenger and provides added security measures against theft of the luggage or contents.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 Luggage covers, including disposable covers, for protection of the luggage outside surface are known. It is also known to provide such a cover that indicates tampering while being handled by a carrier or during storage. Also known is the use of tags, normally affixed to the handle or an attachment ring, to identify the owner/passenger of the piece of luggage. Recent developments in security, particularly related to airline travel, include the hand search of checked baggage by a screener employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The checked pieces of luggage cannot be locked and theft or damage of their contents by searchers or others having access to the checked piece of luggage is possible. This is not only a great inconvenience to the owner/passenger, but submits the airline to liability for loss.
 The present system often allows pieces of luggage to be placed on the wrong flight. Also, the owner may have difficulty in identifying their piece of luggage on the pickup carousels since many pieces of luggage appear alike. It would be desirable to provide a system which provides for protection of pieces of luggage from damage, provides easily recognized flight number and ready identification of a piece of luggage, provides indication of tampering, and relieves the airline or carrier from liability for theft by a handler who is an employee of TSA. It would be desirable that the system employs inexpensive disposable elements such as sleeves or bags, tags or self-adhesive labels, and tape.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,772,330, issued Jun. 30, 1998, to Bang et al., describes a flexible, tamper-evident bag that is placed around a piece of luggage, employing a tamper-evident closure arrangement at the bag mouth for securing the mouth in a closed position.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,920,053, issued Jul. 6, 1999, to DeBrouse, describes a passenger identification and baggage control system employing a photo bearing card having bar code and identifying the carrier and passenger, the card being attached to the luggage handles.
 U.S. Pat. No. 5,293,975, issued Mar. 15, 1994 describes a protector for a briefcase that slips over the briefcase.
 None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed. Thus a luggage security sleeve system solving the aforementioned problems is desired.
 The luggage security sleeve system of the present invention provides a luggage cover or sleeve which is preferably made of transparent plastic film and is closed at one end, the other end being open to allow the sleeve to be pulled down over a piece of luggage. The sleeve is of adequate length to reach at least partially around the base of the piece of luggage. The sleeve may be pulled upward over itself if it is too long for the particular piece of luggage. Security tape identifying the airline is provided which seals the free end of the sleeve under the base of the piece of luggage near the center, thus allowing exposure of wheels at an end or spaced along a side of the base of the piece of luggage. Adhesion is adequate to maintain the tape adhered to the plastic sheet and the tape cannot be removed without substantial stretching or tearing of the sleeve, indicating tampering. The TSA is also supplied security tape with their identification or logo printed thereon.
 When a TSA screener removes the sleeve to search the piece of luggage, he cuts the airline security tape. When he finishes the search, he places the sleeve back on the closed luggage and seals the sleeve with the TSA security tape, replacing the airline security tape seal. By this procedure, the owner/passenger will know if the piece of luggage has been tampered with and the airline avoids liability for theft by the TSA employee since all pieces of luggage which have been searched will have the TSA logo security tape.
 The cover or sleeve includes the name of the airline, the TSA, or any advertiser printed on the outside surface so as to provide identification on each side of the piece with a space identified for attaching a label. A three part self-adhesive label is provided having two large sections and a small section, which are easily separated by serrations into separate labels. Each of the label sections includes the same three-letter identification code. Each large section label includes a letter designating the day of the week, a space for the flight number, and the printed three-letter identification code. The larger sections are placed on opposite sides of the plastic sleeve in the designated space and the smaller section is given to the passenger, preferably by placing it on the passenger's ticket jacket to aid in identifying the luggage upon arrival at a destination.
 The closed upper end of the sleeve has a centrally located opening for accommodating the case handle, allowing the covered case to be carried by the handle. The sleeve fits sufficiently loosely and may be partially stretched to allow the opening to be pulled to a position to accommodate a pulling strap for an end wheeled suitcases or an extension handle for a side wheeled piece of luggage.
 Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a cover or sleeve for a piece of luggage that provides easy identification by the owner/passenger of a piece of luggage checked with an airline or other carrier and provides protection for the luggage from damage.
 It is another object of the invention to provide for security of the checked luggage, indicating any tampering.
 It is a further object of the invention to provide a security seal such as tape having identifying logos thereon so as to determine whether a checked piece of luggage has been opened by a TSA baggage handler.
 Still another object of the invention is to relieve the carrier of liability for loss of contents when a TSA employee has searched the luggage.
 Yet another object of the invention is to provide for matching of piece of luggage with the owner/passenger at the destination.
 It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.
 These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.
FIG. 1 is perspective view of a luggage security sleeve according to the present invention partially separated to show slick inner surface and less slick outer surfaces, respectively.
FIG. 2A is a plan view of the three-part self-adhesive label useful with the present invention.
FIG. 2B is a plan view of the three-part self-adhesive label of FIG. 2A with a written flight number.
FIG. 3A is a plan view of a section of airline identification security tape.
FIG. 3B is a plan view of a section of TSA logo identification security tape.
FIG. 3C is a perspective view of a roll of the security tape of FIG. 3B.
FIG. 4A is an upper perspective view of a suitcase with the inventive security sleeve installed.
FIG. 4B is an upper perspective view of an end-wheeled suitcase with the inventive security sleeve installed and the upper opening slid over to allow access to the pulling strap.
FIG. 5 is a lower perspective view of the suitcase of FIG. 5 with the airlines security tape installed.
FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the suitcase of FIG. 5 with the TSA logo security tape installed.
FIG. 7 is an upper perspective view of a side-wheeled bag having a central extension handle.
FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the side-wheeled bag of FIG. 7.
 Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.
 The present invention is a system for use by airlines or other carriers for providing security against loss during the search of checked luggage by screeners and easing identification of checked luggage at the destination baggage carousel or any other storage area. The system includes a sleeve, closed at one end and security tape sealing the open end around the bottom of a piece of luggage. Self-adhesive labels having easily visible identification numbers are applied to the outside of the security sleeve on each side of the piece of luggage which match security self-adhesive labels placed on the passenger's ticket jacket. Any tampering with the piece of luggage is easily recognizable. If the checked piece of luggage is searched by a TSA screener the screener cuts the carrier's security tape and applies their own identifiable security tape, thus removing liability from the airline or other carrier for loss or damage to contents by a screener.
 Referring to the Figures, luggage security sleeve system 10 includes a sleeve 12 of flexible material, preferably transparent plastic film such as polyethylene film. Sleeve 12 has closed top portions 14 forming a central handle opening 16 and side seams 18 leading to an open end 20 forming a bag-like luggage cover. Side seams 18 are shown peeled away at the open end to illustrate a preferred embodiment where co-extruded film is employed having a a slick inner surface 24 and a relatively less slick outer surface 22. The sleeve 12 may alternatively be folded over so as to have only one side seam 18 or extruded in a single tube having no side seams. The airline identification 26 is located on each face of sleeve 12 so as to be plainly seen from each side of a covered piece of luggage. The airline identification is preferably located to form a generally rectangular self-adhesive label receiving area 28 bounded by boundary bars 30 and is preferably of a bright color such as red.
 Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, there is shown a three-part identification self-adhesive label 32 having two baggage self-adhesive labels 34 having serrated separation 36 and each bearing the printed airline identification 38, day of the week 39, identification number 40, and box 42 for the airline check-in clerk to write the flight number 43. Passenger receipt self-adhesive label 44 has a serrated separation 46 and bears the flight identification number 40 and airline initials or logo 48. Passenger receipt self-adhesive label 44 is preferably separated and placed on the passenger's ticket jacket for later identification. The baggage self-adhesive labels are separated and placed on each face of the sleeve 12 as described above.
 Referring to FIGS. 3A and 3B, there is shown a strip of airline security tape 50 and a section of TSA logo tape 60, respectively. Airline security tape 50 has a repeating airline identification or logo 52 along its length and is of strong plastic film with adhesive capable of adhering to the less slick surface 22 of sleeve 12 to a degree that substantial tearing or stretching of the plastic film occurs when an attempt is made to peel the tape away. The TSA logo security tape 60 has repeating logo 62 or other identification along its length and is similar in materials and adherence characteristics to airline security tape 50. A roll 64 of TSA security tape is shown in FIG. 3C.
 Referring to FIG. 4A, there is shown a suitcase C covered with the sleeve 12 and sealed with airline security tape 50. The baggage self-adhesive label 34 is attached between boundary bars 30 and handle H protrudes through handle opening 16. Open end 20 overlaps sleeve 12 to achieve proper fit.
 Referring to FIG. 4B, there is shown a suitcase C having lower end wheels W and pulled by strap S as covered by the sleeve 12 and having handle opening 16 pulled over to allow the grasping of strap S for ease in transport. The airline security tape 50 has been cut by the TSA baggage screener indicating that the piece of luggage was searched. The TSA logo security tape 60 has then been applied to security seal the sleeve 12.
 Referring to FIG. 5, there is shown a lower perspective view of the wheeled suitcase C of FIG. 4B showing the airline security tape 50 sealed in place over the suitcase bottom CB. Note that wheels W are exposed for use through the opening formed by open end 20.
 Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown a bottom view of the wheeled suitcase C of FIG. 4B showing the airline security tape 50 cut and the TSA logo security tape 60 sealed in place over the suitcase bottom CB after the contents have been searched by TSA personnel.
 Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, there is shown a bag B having side-mounted wheels W and an extendable handle EH as covered and sealed by the security sleeve 12 and airline security tape 50. Handle opening 16 may be located to allow access to handle H and extension handle EH as shown in FIG. 7, or either handle individually. The bag bottom BB is shown in FIG. 8 with the airline security tape 50 applied between side-mounted wheels 18.
 The method of employing the security sleeve system begins with the owner/passenger or airline check-in employee fitting the security sleeve 12 over the suitcase or bag as illustrated above. A strip of airline security tape 50 is applied by the airline check-in clerk at the bottom of the sleeve and luggage at a location to allow used of any wheels W, and the flight number is written on the baggage self-adhesive labels 34 of three-part self-adhesive label 32. The self-adhesive label 32 is separated along serrations 36 and 46 by the check-in clerk, the baggage self-adhesive labels are placed on each side of the piece of luggage in the self-adhesive label receiver area 28 of the security sleeve 12, and the passenger receipt self-adhesive label 44 placed on the passenger ticket jacket.
 The checked luggage may be selectively opened by baggage screeners working for the TSA to search the contents. When a piece of luggage is selected for search, the screener cuts the airline security tape 50, removes the sleeve 12, examines the contents and replaces the sleeve 12 on the piece of luggage. The screener then applies a strip of TSA logo security tape 60 adjacent to the cut airline security tape.
 Upon reaching the destination, the owner/passenger may easily identify their luggage on the carousel by recognizing the configuration of the piece of luggage through the transparent sleeve and checking the identification number on the sleeve against the self-adhesive label on their ticket jacket. Their ownership of the luggage may be confirmed by a security attendant by comparing the identification numbers on the luggage to those on the passenger's ticket jacket.
 The security sleeve is preferably made of transparent polyethylene or similar plastic material. The security tape and three-part label are preferably made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or similar material having appropriate adhesive on the adhesion side and printed material on the exposed side as described above. The airline identification markings are printed or otherwise applied to the transparent security sleeve.
 It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.