Friday, November 06, 2009

'Take Your Bag, Sir?' ... 'No, Thanks. Somebody Already Took It'

Dang, I took a week off and when I wasn't looking, a couple of grifters stole a thousand bags, maybe more, off luggage carousels at the amusingly named Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

This wasn't your usual airport heist, in which baggage handlers or TSA screeners five-finger items from checked bags and then send the bereft bags merrily along. This was plain old walk-up-to-the-carousel-and-abscond-with-the-whole-bag thievery.

I've always wondered about bags on carousels, where anybody can walk off with them. It kind of gave me hope about the human condition that theft from airport carousels evidently was not a problem.

Till now.

The potential remedies -- tag-inspection cops creating long lines to get out of the baggage-claim areas -- are depressing to contemplate.

Anyway, today sent out an informal survey of passengers' attitudes toward the security of their bags at the baggage claim areas. More than half of the 1,830 responses said they were always or often concerned; 31 percent said "rarely," and 11 percent said "never."

Meanwhile, as to the other baggage theft problem, the one behind the scenes, the last time I traveled, I wrote "Oxy" on a label and pasted it onto a prescription bottle and slipped it into an outside pocket on a checked bag. Did it as a test. Sure enough, the bag arrived missing the bottle. I hope the thief enjoyed those drug-store Tylenols.

My next test involves a knockoff "gold" Rolex watch that I bought for $5 at one of those vendors in Times Square. (Actually, a quite convincing piece of work for $5, till you look closely).


1 comment:

ChefNick said...

I've always wondered about that too. At SFO, for example, there are dozens of carousels. They're literally steps from the sidewalk.

I always look around to see if there's someone, anyone, who's going to stop me from taking a bag off the carousel that I've been watching and has gone around twenty times or so.

Who is going to stop me from picking up that bag and walking out to my waiting car? The answer is: no one. Baggage tags only serve the airline. They might come in useful if your bag accidentally went to, well, Baghdad.

I haven't tried the ol' fake Oxycontin scam, but maybe I should.

Oh shoot, no, I forgot -- I only travel with carryons these days.