Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Day Late and a Laptop Short

Okay, so maybe I'm mildly obsessed. BUT I received a response to my claim to TSA this morning. If you're new to this particular tirade of mine, my laptop was stolen out of my suitcase on my return to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago.

SO, the response from TSA is priceless. It's a whole series of questions designed to let you know that you're shit out of luck. Brilliant. This is all in the guise of  "investigating" the claim, but you don't have to be a genius to read between these lines. Just in case you haven't invested the same emotional energy into this this as I have, I'll walk you through it.

How early did you check in your luggage/s prior to scheduled departure?
(Because if it was TOO early, this is your fault.)

When your checked your luggage at PHL, were you able to view the inspection take place?
(Because if you didn't expect to be ripped off and insist on watching our officers inspect your bag, then this is just plain your fault.)

Understanding that the airlines will not cover loss or damage to any valuables. (i.e. jewelry, electronics, cash, etc.)
(Isn't this tantamount to granting permission for employees to steal and then TSA can just blow it off when they do?)

 Is it typical for you to pack valuables in your checked bags as opposed to your carry on?
(Are you habitually a complete moron, or is this the first time for you? You do know that we steal, right?)

Did you check in at curbside?

Did you watch curbside baggage handler deliver bags to the ticket counter?
(WOW! You didn't? Were you HOPING he would steal your shit?)

Did you experience a delay before boarding your flight?
(Because if you did, this is really your fault.)

If so, how long was the delay?
(You really need to make sure that doesn't happen.) 

Did you have a transfer in your itinerary?
How long were you at your point of transfer?
(Beacause if either of these things happened, we are clearly not responsible.)

Why do you think TSA is responsible?
(Good luck proving it. Yeah, I know we left an inspection notice in the EXACT SPOT where your laptop used to be, but that was just our way of taunting you.)

 Was you bag locked when presented for screening?
(This is the stupidest question of all, since TSA expressly states that you are only supposed to use a TSA lock, so they they can open it. If you use another lock, they're allowed to break it, and if you use a TSA lock, they sometimes just break it anyway.)

So, I have some questions for TSA.

Are agents searched upon entering and leaving the airport?

When is theft NOT the passenger's fault? When is it actually the fault of the person who steals it?

How can I know that an agent who has full access to checked baggage isn't a threat to my security? If an agent can take something out of my luggage, he/she could certainly put something in my luggage.

That should do for starters. I know I seem obsessed, and it would seem to some that now that my property has been retrieved, I should just be grateful and shut up. However, I've spent a great deal of time researching this issue lately, and what I've learned is both disheartening and frightening.

It's disheartening that when we pack our suitcases, we are essentially offering them to airport and TSA employees. It's not just valuables that go missing. Simple things like clothes have been reported as stolen from checked baggage. From the hundreds of accounts that I have read of airline theft, not a single one of those people has reported receiving any help or support from the airlines or TSA.

The frightening part is the idea that our luggage could be used as a carrier for something that endangers our children when we fly.

Kind of makes you want to stay home, doesn't it?

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