The following is quick comparison of non-carry on luggage experience while visiting Laos in 2003 and 2013.
In 2003, when I arrived and received my luggage in Laos, I could tell it had been opened and gone through as it was a bit messed up and dirty almost as though the contents had been thrown on a dirty floor and then put back into my luggage - keeping in mind I had neatly packed everything prior. When I left Laos, I could not tell if it had been opened so I don't believe they did.
In 2013, when I arrived and received my luggage in Laos, I don't think they opened my luggage this time. There were some improvements I noticed this time around. I like that they have someone at the door to check that you confirm your 2 luggage tags (the tag that's on the luggage itself and the tag that you keep on you that was given by airline clerk) before you leave the baggage area. I was thankful they did this in Laos because who knows who might "accidentally" walk off with your luggage. It is a bit mind-boggling that no other airports I've seen do this. It's very much left on the premise of the traveler's honesty.
Furthermore, when I left Laos on this trip, I noticed there was tape indicating that one of my luggage had been inspected by customs. I will admit that I am glad that at least now they put notification tape on the luggage that have been opened. One might say, it's a polite way of letting someone know that it's been opened/checked. Whereas 10 years before, they did not put any notifications. Instead you would have simply opened your luggage and seen that it was all messed up. Also of note in this instance that even though it had been opened, I'm happy to report that at least the contents were still neatly packed when I opened my luggage when I got back home.
In mentioning these 2 instances of 2003 and 2013, I would say they were both random checks. I should mention, I have no qualms or objections regarding airports doing their due diligence in checking for whatever illegal things people bring in or take out of the country.
I can also report that in both cases I never had anything go missing so in that respect, it seems that along the entire route of my trip to and from Laos, no airport employees took anything. That's always nice!
- Submitted by VM as part of the Stories to Share travel series of posts on Laoconnection.com. The experiences remain that of the author.