Friday, May 17, 2013

Do you trust the TSA with your luggage ?

While gathering material for this story or posting, I was very surprised at the amount of theft from travelers luggage, and who was partly responsible for a vast majority of the theft. Now, I must add that some of the missing items were the fault of the travelers, they assumed, and did not use common sense.I will say that for the most part the TSA and baggage handlers are hard working honest people,in the military there was the 10% rule,which mean that 10% of th goof offs made the other 90% look bad. I found one comment from a irate woman who  panties and bras, lingerie if you will were lifted out of her luggage. She was very angry because  they were not Victoria's Secret or Frederick's Of Hollywood, just plain everyday bras and panties from Walmart, and they were soiled, worn, dirty, now if you think that was  something please read the following  comments from some fellow travelers who have had the miss-fortune of having items come up missing  from their checked luggage.

Posted By dave T. on April 28, 2008, 3:58 PM

I once travelled from Bombay India back to the U.S. I made it to Philly, went through customs with all 3 of my bags, which had been sealed shut with security tape in Bombay. When I arrived in Atlanta, only 2 of my 3 bags arrived. Someone in Philly had decided to keep my 3rd bag - the one with a month's worth of souvenirs in it - books and wood carvings and saries, mostly. I did a claim through the airline, which was paid, but required copies of all of my receipts (which fortunately were not in that bag), and they only paid 2/3 of the loss. I even flew to Philly the following week and searched the "lost and found" of every airline, and posted "missing" fliers. I was devastated. While I was there I heard that Philly is a BLACK HOLE for luggage. I'm never flying through that city again. Three years ago this month, I flew from Minneapolis to Seattle. Because the flight was full, (which it was not) I was told I needed to check one of my carry-ons, which happened to have two camera bodies and several expensive lens plus my extra medications. It was the lesser of two evils as the other carry-on had my daily medications, digital camera, money, and purse. They would not give me time to repack the suitcases and I was at their mercy. Upon my arrival I found the 'love letter' from the TSA and two very 'trashed' suitcases. The one with the camera equipment was a disaester. The lens were out of thier protective holders and loose, the lens caps were off, 3 multi-packs of film were missing along with a full bottle of vicodin, I had to sit down by the carousel and repack the entire case. The suitcase with my clothes was in the same condition. The clothes had been hastily jammed back in, my velvet dress was a mess, my jewelry was strewn about the suitcase and 2 costume rings were missing as well as a pair of earrings and a bracelet. Because I bought the costume jewelry at a department store clearance sale it looked much more expensive than it really was, I hope they found that out when they tried to unload it or give it away! At the hotel that night, instead of having a casual dinner and seeing a bit of Seattle I was repacking and cleaning up the damage for the next leg of my journey to catch a cruise ship in Vancouver headed to Alaska. I loved Alaska, the cruise was great, my lay over with friends on Vancouver Island was all I could ask for.
 The TSA Struck Again Posted By dave T. on April 28, 2008, 3:58 PM. On my way home from Seattle. I arrived in Minneapolis to find my luggage in an uproar again, no locks, no letter, just the obnoxious little blue security tag from the TSA. I was missing a necklace and a souvenir t-shirt I bought for my husband in Alaska. This time my cameras traveled with me as carry-on so they were safe! Fast forward to last year. I got talked into flying again. (Did I mention how I hate to fly?) This time it was from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. Yep, you guessed it. I was searched again. I had one rolling medium size suitcase sparsely packed, one carry-on and one GIANT purse with all my meds and two digital cameras only. No more flying with all my equipment. I save that for road trips now. Again, cheap but expensive looking costume jewelry which they lifted again. I was also missing a smaller evening bag that I had packed. I wished for my cameras at the Grand Canyon but made do with the digitals, we visited Arizona for a week and I longed for my wildlife lens and extra camera bodies but I survived. When we flew home I was amazed to find my luggage had not been searched. My mindset now is if I can't drive there, I am not going....Northwest ( now Delta) and Steenland have picked the Minnesota taxpayers' pockets for years, the fares will go up, poor service will continue and there is no adventure in flying anymore. Just frustration, lines, delays, searches, missing and/or delayed baggage and sterile areas. (I am a nurse, trust me, those areas are not sterile!) And, I refuse to pay to have my luggage accompany me!Thank heavens my sister has returned to Minnesota after 34 years in Hawaii so I don't have to make that awful trip anymore. I have learned to pack light, buy while I am there, and mail it home.
Posted By laura on April 28, 2008, 12:25 PM

I recently returned from my dream vacation to Egypt. Had lots of little gifts and souvenirs in a duffel bag, which I had planned on carrying on the plane with me. However, the airline nixed that idea and I had to check the bag which had TSA approved locks on it. Upon returning home and unpacking I found that a good 85% of my gifts, etc were missing. Each of my bags had a TSA inspection sticker on them showing that they were inspected in Minneapolis which is where I believe the theft took place. In the past I have had a few minor things pilfered from my bags but not to the extent of my Egypt trip. I know it was the TSA as I checked my bags before I left. I have filed a report with TSA but do not expect any action on their part...after all it is the government who admits and takes responsibility for nothing. I am furious as all the gifts I planned to give are now gone thanks to a thief at the TSA.
Posted By Steven Frischling on April 28, 2008, 1:32 PM

The only downside to the advice to carry on anything deemed important is that it makes folks try to carry anything and everything that they can onto the planes, which takes longer and then fills up the overhead compartment. The piece of advice I most wish folks heeded is to pack LIGHT and only take what you ABSOLUTELY need. Women that find they want three outfits for every day should consider that buying stuff at your destination both enlarges and enhances your wardrobe, makes it more likely to be compatible with that culture/climate, and provides excellent 'souvenirs.' (And also frees up some luggage space at least one-way!).
Posted By Nancy on April 28, 2008, 1:29 PM

There are actually is a growing theft problem at airports. The largest growing theft issue, that I have been able to find by doing some leg-work,is not from baggage. This largest area of thefts comes from "airport thieves" who are not TSA agents or airline employees, these are thieves who seem to specialize in working an airport masterfully. Finding information has been a challenge, but with some research I was able to get a
decent profile on how these people operate in airports.
Posted By Sean,on April 24, 2008, 2:19 PM
I had a digital camera swiped from my baggage last month on a Continental itinerary from Cleveland to Houston on to San Diego, and in the process searching online and investigating my options for recourse (and discovering that I'm completely screwed), I found it absolutely staggering how many upset people there are out there who've experienced similar thefts. Perhaps the widespread nature of the thefts seems exaggerated by the fact that angry people tend to shout the loudest (particularly online), but I suspect not so much. I only travel by air a few times per year, so either the law of averages hates me or this is underreported more than many believe. I'm typically a much more savvy traveler, but I was on the way to a large scientific conference and had reams of abstracts, schedules and other materials I wanted to go through on the flights along with my laptop and presentation poster. Carrying on the camera in my laptop bag (a digital SLR -- with a rather substantial footprint) would have just been way too cumbersome. I guess that'll teach me to go get a larger carry-on for next time instead!
My fellow consumers need to speak out too so that we might get a step closer to a remedy.
Posted By Pat on April 24, 2008, 2:44 PM
I traveled overseas from the UAE, we were informed that electronics NOT in working condition- ie. a cellphone I bought in UAE and NOT set up yet...would have to be packed and not carried on. I packed it in its box and didn't carry it on. My bag was delayed in Gatwick, England and then delivered to US where it went via US customs before being delivered to me....a week and a half later I got my bag with the box but it had been opened and the cell phone was missing. There are multiple points the cell phone could have and probably was stolen. The airline claimed no responsibility because it was an electronic kept in the luggage though I was clearly TOLD at the gate to PACK it. Lovely. I was out $300.00. NEVER got it back. People steal from your suitcases all the time....I've heard this story many times from other people since my experience. DON'T PACK ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SEE AGAIN. Carry as much on as possible and keep it with you. The word "security" doesn't mean much these days....certainly doesn't to me.
Posted By Thomas on April 28, 2008, 12:03 PM

Early last year, I flew from San Diego to Raleigh-Durham after visiting my brother. We stopped and purchased 4 150ML bottles of Crown Royal in their boxes at $35/bottle (NC prices were $52/bottle). I checked the wheeled bag to the X-ray check-in and the TSA agent accepted the bag. Upon arriving at RDU, the four boxes were in my bag, but only 3 bottles actually completed the journey. I guess the TSA needed to have a little party! Even with the theft, I still saved a little, but was it worth the hassle -- probably not.
Posted By Sue on May 1, 2008, 9:08 PM
On Monday April 20th, my husband was flying from Rapid City, S.D. to Salt Lake City. It was 6 a.m. and while going thru security checkpoint, he was asked several times to remove his watch, which he has NEVER been asked to do... He finally gave in and took off his $8,000 new Rolex watch.. He walked thru and didn't alarm, but immediately was pulled out of line for "random" addtl. screening. In that 3 minutes time, his watch disappeared, while under the WATCH of a policeman and tsa employees that were standing watching the line... He filled out police report, only to find out the next day that the cameras were NOT working at all at the particular checkpoint.. His watch is gone, and we filled out the claims form on line and have heard nothing. They haven't returned any of his phone-calls, and police officer has told him he has nothing to investigate, without cameras working... Everything about his experience has seemed to point to TSA employee stealing his watch.. Very frustrating!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted By Sheila on April 23, 2008, 1:47 PM
I don't know how typical my experience is but I have 'lost' three TSA locks in the last 18 months the last two cases being on a flight from London to San Jose, CA via LA and the other from Maui last November. We lost a cell phone and 7 or 8 other small items on the London flight. I have also had a number of other cases where the TSA safety lock has been returned unlocked. So who steals and who doesn't do their job returning TSA locks in a 'locked' position I leave to others to decide but in my experience TSA personel at the very least are not doing their job as they should.
Posted By Maria on April 24, 2008, 1:55 PM
Hello, all,Thank you for taking the time to share your stories and insights. I'm sure other readers have gained a lot by reading them.You’re absolutely right that because the TSA is about security, the agency should be held to the highest of standards. Thanks for posting your comment—other readers benefited from hearing your story. As for the other comments posted, this is all very valuable info to get out there to the public. As mentioned, pilfering agents need to be fired and prosecuted. Yes, the consumer needs some reliable means of real recourse. Next--a lot of cases of loss/theft are not reported by travelers, which lets thieves continue their dirty work undetected. That's terrible to hear the other stories about items gone missing, gifts stolen, and locks being left unlocked (or disappearing entirely) after inspection.
Posted By Beth B on April 24, 2008, 8:57 PM

I'm in my 40th year in Aviation. I've worked in every segment over the years. Started as a "bag smasher", and progressed to an Operations Manager at a major airport. The problem started with deregulation. The airlines now have very few career employees, most of them are retired. To be competitive, the airlines are hiring from a lower income level, or contracting out the positions that were normally held by dedicated career employees. A good portion of the current group of bag handlers are just making ends meet. Your expensive cell phone or Ipod is not so much a desired toy, but represents a weeks worth of groceries, or a months rent. They know that the TSA is part of the group that handles the bags, and they take advantage of the inability to pinpoint where the theft occured.
"To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries." ~Aldous Huxley

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