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Author: Subject: Who's Checking the People Checking Luggage?

True Peach





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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:16 PM
Just returned from Orange County, California where I wrapped up a video job this morning. This time out, things did not go particularly well.

Upon arrival at Orange County (John Wayne) Airport on Monday, two cases containing EXPENSIVE cameras did not materialize at the luggage carousel. I checked at the oversized counter - not there, either.

The folks at CONTINENTAL AIRLINES said they'd run the bags to the hotel when they showed up on the next flight (2 hours later). Two more "next flights" came and went - each without the two camera cases.

Finally, at around 9:00 PM, I get a call from the airline. They said the cases had arrived, but they seemed very light. When the courier delevered the cases I opened them to find nothing but a single 9 volt battery. It was obvious that someone had robbed the cases.

Phone calls (ANGRY phone calls) to TSA (Thousands Standing Around) eventually started something of an investigation (still ongoing). Videotape from surveilance cameras shows that the TSA guys inspected and moved the gear on from their end. This leaves ground crews in Birmingham, Houston and Orange County as suspects.

If the cases had never shown up at all, I would sadly just dismiss this as a case of lost luggage. It's the cases showing up empty that disturbs me.

My very first feeling was of disbelief. How could these cases get lost at all? Why did it take the airline so long to find them?

My next instinct was anger. Somebody - TSA or the airline ROBBED ME! I accepted long ago that TSA and others, in the interest of making a safer America are routinely going to be sifting through my socks, underwear and camera gear. I can't say that I like it or approve, but I accept it.

My final reaction is terror. These folks (TSA and the luggage goons) are in a position to remove and place any sort of package on an airliner. It occurs to me that anybody who would steal expensive camera gear might not be above accepting a bribe to allow a package containing ... anything at all to pass onto the airliner.

There has been a lot of talk about breeches of security. I feel that as a passenger, MY personal security has been breeched.

I do a lot of jobs out of town. I have to travel with some expensive gear. I have to TRUST the airlines and TSA - I have to play by their rules (I am not even allowed to put REAL locks on these cases).

This battle has only begun. The airline claims that they are only liable for $500.00 (this gear was worth over $40,000.00). My retalliation is going to be - sure, $500.00 if the cases were lost. But these cases were opened and damaged, and their contents removed.

We were able to complete our job. A co-workerd from Chicago arrived with his gear (same, exact set-up) in tact. At least that part went well.

I guess my reason for posting this story is to point out that we are not safe from the very people who are supposed to be protecting us.

I'll post more details as this story develops.

RB

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:22 PM
Holy cow...you bring up points I hadn't even considered!!!
 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:31 PM
Holy crap
hope they somehow find the basards

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:35 PM
That is just some stupid bullshirt...

They could also place something in your bag that wasn't there if they really wanted to get you

Hope you get all of your gear back Rusty....

 

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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:56 PM
I HATE a goddamned thief.

I hope you get some justice, Rusty.

[Edited on 11/1/2007 by BigDaveOnBass]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 07:57 PM
Good luck, Rusty! Hope you can get some type of resolution here. I don't like to check anything that is of value when travelling because of the number of unknown handlers of that baggage but sometimes it's not an option (size of bag, content, not meeting carry-on restrictions, etc). Like Ann said - you bring up some very interesting points in your post...if it's so easy for a baggage handler to remove something from a plane without notice why wouldn't it be just as easy for them to 'add' something to a plane without fear of reprisal. I'm with you - not entirely confident that all measures taken to protect John and Sally Q Public actually do protect us. Keep us posted on how things turn out (hopefully in your best interests)...

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 08:06 PM
sorry man

Once they find out there is not a bomb they a do not give a sh.. anymore about your stuff. Security has tightened but customer service has not improved by the airlines in 25 yrs.

I use american express baggage coverage

 

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World Class Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 08:38 PM
Rusty, keep us up to date on what happens...this is very bad news.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 08:52 PM
Coulda' been some "terrorist" in those cameras.We gotta' protect Amurica ya'know!
That REALLY sucks Rusty.

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 09:04 PM
This is terrifying to read let alone ..experience...
It really only confirms my suspicions... we are not safe anywhere...
This is truly disturbing on so many levels... Rusty I hope you get justice and all your gear back.. Oh dear....

At one time I loved flying and considered being a flight attendant.... My views on this and lots of other things have changed ... I don't even want to fly anymore.. and if I do .. I try to carry on what I need and not even check luggage.. I realize this is not realistic... for myself and most people when Traveling.... and I will be crossing that path again very soon... Bill wants to go to Vegas.. ..

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 09:19 PM
An awful story, Rusty. But my prime suspects would be the baggage handlers, not the TSA (the handlers' duties are less out in the open). I think this has been going on a long time, but maybe it is easier for them now since bags can't be locked and they can be more choosy. Business insurance should cover the equipment to the extent the carrier's liability is limited by the $500 rule. Sorry.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 09:49 PM
That totally sucks Rusty... don't give up fighting until you get some satisfaction. This reminds me of a Sixty Minutes story some years ago, where they actually filmed baggage handlers pilfering stuff from baggage.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 09:50 PM
Sorry to hear this Rusty -- would sure like to see this not overwith yet, whether through the return of your equipment or for it to be replaced by airlines/insurance or however -- this really sucks

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 10:45 PM
sucks dude..i am sorry

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 10:51 PM
Sorry to hear about that Rusty. There is always some piece of crap looking to rip off people.

It was a long time ago but I knew a guy who was a baggage handler. They went through everything looking for stuff. They used to steal lots of alcohol because some would bring back more than they were allowed and couldn't report it missing. But he saw all sorts of things get stolen.

He advised me to never leave items such as cameras in my luggage. Sadly that is a little hard to do in your situation.

 

Maximum Peach



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  posted on 10/31/2007 at 10:55 PM
Thefts from checked luggage has been a big problem ever since TSA got involved (another case of government making things worse, but I digress). I'm sure you've already googled "airline luggage theft" and seen the countless reports from the past few years.

Camera gear is a favorite target of these creeps because it's small enough to hide and easy to pawn or sell on a variety of internet sites. A friend showed up in FL a few months back for a business trip and found all the clubs in his checked golf bag had been removed. Got the bag back - it just didn't contain his valuable clubs any longer.

Here's an interesting tip from someone who had a similar experience as yours:

quote:
It was really dumb of me to put a camera into a piece of checked luggage, but I did, and now an airport baggage handler somewhere is one camera richer. It’s my fault, of course. My only excuse is that I almost never check bags, so when I packed this one I was thinking carry-on, not checked.

In searching around for similar cases, I found this tale of a guy who found his stolen camera on eBay, tracked down the thief, and got him arrested.

In the comments, mixed in with the debate about whether or not Delta should have granted the refund he requested (they didn’t), there’s this amazing bit of advice lifted from a comment on another blog:

One note on using TSA rules to your advantage.

Weapons that travel MUST be in a hard case, must be declared upon check-in, and MUST BE LOCKED by a TSA official.

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols - those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets - are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.

What a brilliant hack!



[Edited on 11/1/2007 by Fujirich]

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:18 AM
Rusty,

Feel bad about your lose, but I would be more incline to blame the "baggage handlers" than TSA. One thing you (or anyone else for that matter) might want to do in the future with expensive equipment such as cameras, tools, ect, is ship it via FedEX or UPS. First of all, you can "FULLY INSURE" your equipment. Two, you don't have to deal with the hassel of checking in the equipment and hanging out at the luggage carosel at the end of the flight as your equipment will be delivered to your residence, motel or place of business. And three, FedEX and UPS are helluva lot more reliable about getting things to point A to B, than the airlines are. Truth is, a lot of business people are doing this nowadays, just to avoid the hassle of the arlines "losing" their luggages, equipment ect.

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:23 AM
quote:
Rusty,

Feel bad about your lose, but I would be more incline to blame the "baggage handlers" than TSA. One thing you (or anyone else for that matter) might want to do in the future with expensive equipment such as cameras, tools, ect, is ship it via FedEX or UPS. First of all, you can "FULLY INSURE" your equipment. Two, you don't have to deal with the hassel of checking in the equipment and hanging out at the luggage carosel at the end of the flight as your equipment will be delivered to your residence, motel or place of business. And three, FedEX and UPS are helluva lot more reliable about getting things to point A to B, than the airlines are. Truth is, a lot of business people are doing this nowadays, just to avoid the hassle of the arlines "losing" their luggages, equipment ect.


I was going to suggest the same thing. My brother does this sometimes when he travels and he highly recommends it.

I guess next time I go to Macon I'll overnight my undies.

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:26 AM
This has been a learning experience to say the least.

I blame part of it on my own blind-stoopid-humanity-trusting faith.

Aren't these guys supposed to undergo scrutiny and background checks before they're hired? Are they hiring felons to do these jobs?

TSA says that they have reviewed the tapes that show all of their agents doing their jobs - carefully unpacking, examining and repacking each case before sending them along.

Shipping the gear via UPS or FedEx is a great idea, and I do this routinely -when I have a known destination (address) to ship it to.

I have also flown with gear for over 20 years. I have had cases get misdirected (to the air freight terminal), but I have never had gear stolen or cases arrive empty.

I feel like I've been raped.

I am on the phone with many higher-ups this morning.

I honestly feel that someone will be nabbed for this. With all of those cameras in airports these days (if you've ever picked your nose in an airport, it's probably on tape) - surely somebody will have been seen removing items or cases from a conveyor belt. I might never see this gear again, but I'm sure somebody will be caught.

 

____________________
Music is love, and love is music, if you know what I mean.

People who believe in music are the happiest people I've ever seen.



Bill Ector, Randy Stephens, Dan Hills and a guy named BobO who I never met - Forever in my heart!

 

Universal Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:27 AM
One more thing to consider when traveling by airlines (and why TSA is a joke). Do you ever wonder who fuels the planes, who cleans the planes, who puts food on the planes? Quite often these jobs are contracted out, and often to people willing to work for fairly low wages. Security checks on these people are miminum at best, and when they are doing "their jobs", they don't have to go through TSA. Pretty much, they just "show their badge" and are waved through.
 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:28 AM
Good luck, Rusty. As other have posted, please let us know how you make out.


 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 08:57 AM
A woman I work with had all her xmas gifts taken from her luggage last Dec. They were small wrapped gifts so she could travel with them. It was United Airlines. She did get a free RT airfare out of them after a very long dispute but really, it's the point that someone did this!

Good Luck Rusty. It's such a violation and I'm sorry this happened.

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 09:38 AM
I travel by air a great deal. Airlines and TSA are a joke
its all window dressing

[Edited on 11/1/2007 by illness]

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 09:40 AM
quote:
I HATE a goddamned thief.

I hope you get some justice, Rusty.

[Edited on 11/1/2007 by BigDaveOnBass]


Dave did you ever find the thing you left at Beacon Hotel Jam For The Cure. I know you posted something here but forgot what it was. Not claiming it was stolen just came to mind.

 

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Universal Peach



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  posted on 11/1/2007 at 10:05 AM
Call the FAA, then follow up with a letter. They have to follow through and investigate anything they get in writing. Best wishes in getting a jerk out of circulation.
 
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