Watch your baggage

Since 9/11/01 heightened security concerns at airports have made it all but impossible to lock your baggage. You are told that you might lock it, but TSA will break the lock if they need to subject it to additional inspection. I generally don’t bother, and I usually put fairly blind trust in security personnel.

No more. During a return flight from Washington, DC to Atlanta, GA on December 2 of last year, just over a month ago, I put a digital camera in my suitcase. I was hurrying to the terminal, and did not want to have to carry more than a laptop in my backpack. So my handy Canon PowerShot A95, with the nice little flip out screen that I used to take endless self-portraits, went into the suitcase.

Back in Athens, as I unpacked my suitcase, I realized that the camera was missing. For a day or so, I wondered if there was some mistake, but I clearly remembered putting the camera into the suitcase just before checking it in, so it was either in the suitcase or it was not. It was not.

So watch out for what you put in your baggage.

I’ve filed a TSA claim for a stolen item. Having never done this before, I’ve no idea what to expect – a long-drawn out process with no concrete results, a quick denial, or a swift and efficient inquiry with a reimbursement of the hard-earned $300+ (made working part-time at the Shakespeare Theater) for the very first camera I owned.

One thing you should keep in mind: keep purchase evidence for expensive items you own in case you need to go looking for them. And hold on to baggage tags until you’re sure you’ve got everything you checked in!

11 thoughts on “Watch your baggage”

  1. Man that sucks…I feel for you…I truely do. And the whole not locking your bags thing goes against everything we were taught growing up as desis! You know it, if our parents could they would have put the suitcases in a safe!

  2. have you bought the new locks that are TSA-compliant? They’ve been around a few years now & the TSA walas have keys to them, so they won’t ‘break your lock’ if they need to search your bag. They’re a dollar or two at the travel store in any terminal. They have a little red diamond sticker on them…

    As a good desi, I have never complied w. the rule to leave my luggage unlocked (my husband is the total opposite)…and haven’t had any trouble w. it at all.

    In the meantime, hope you get the money for a new camera from them…and it’s sad that you lost the camera itself, I hope you had downloaded all your photos from it.

    are you coming to MI for that conference?

  3. I travel frequently…

    But it happens to me twice.

    Once my camera was gone which I realized after a week

    Second time, few CDs were stolen (my indian old song collection) !

    But I never put lock on it so I can’t complain.

  4. thank you, friends, for the empathy. I shouldn’t complain too much though: the loss of my camera earned me an Eid gift from my cousin and her husband – a Dell gift card, with a recommendation for a camcorder. So now I own my very first mini-DV camcorder, and at last am capturing some valuable baby-dancing on tape for my parents to watch.

    A Valentine’s Day bonus would be to get reimbursed by TSA for my camera -which I was really fond of – so I can get back to snapping quick photos and sending enormous kodakgallery.com albums to all my friends.

    Is TSA reading this?

  5. I hope TSA reimburses you inshAllah
    can I whine about how I’m taken away for additional security checks and subject to somewhat invasive body and hand baggage searches 😦 just because I have a pakistani passport
    I feel so bitter everytime I fly within and to and fro the US

  6. salam alaikoum
    sorry about camera. I have a three phase packing process for sensitive items, as we always get detained and or checked for the evil crime of Flying While Muslim:

    -all liquids in requisite baggie, carry on
    -all questionable quasi liquid items in second baggie for easy screening (lipstick etc), carry on
    -all electronics in shopping bag, carry on

    i buy full size items upon arrival and suck it up.

  7. Nasty. Glad you have such nice relatives. Having had bags go missing (though miraculously turn up after round trips to God knows where), I never check in anything that I’m not prepared to lose, these days. That scene at the airport in Toy Story 2 – the literal truth!

  8. Those TSA locks are also available in places like Target and while I didn’t use to lock my luggage after reading an article by a former baggage handler I will now. My brother also made the mistake of putting his cell phone into his checked luggage and lost it.

    Hope the TSA reimburses you!

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