safety of checked items on planes
I don't know where I got this idea, but I think I heard somewhere that things are more likely to get stolen out of your checked luggage when you fly to the USVI. Is this a myth? If it is true, what kinds of items are likely to be stolen? Does the theft happen once the luggage arrives in the USVI - it doesn't seem like baggage handlers would have much opportunity to casually open up some bags and check out the goods.
We are packing and packing and packing, and I am trying to decide what things need to be mailed and what things can come on the plane, and which need to be carry-ons, so any insight would be appreciated. I also apologize if I am repeating some false rumor. Which is hopefully the case!
We aren't using Tropical Shipping after all, we are just mailing a few boxes and bringing a few suitcases down. Everything else will sit in storage until we know what our plans are for the future.
Having worked for the airlines in the past, the answer is Yes, ramp agents do steal things from luggage. It really doesn't matter where you are flying to. Since 9/11 it is not happening as much due to TSA monitors and airline control monitors in the cargo area. Mostly the ramp agents would take illegal drugs in the past....who is going to report that! But, like everywhere, there are those who steal and those who don't.
A year ago last December, I had a really nice GPS color plotter stolen out of my checked bags going from stx to Boston, via San Juan. If the bag had been stolen, i could have made a claim, but they didn't have a procedure for claims of items stolen out of bags.
You might want to read the fine print of what is covered and what isn't for damage as well. I don't think they cover electronic items at all. I would just keep all the good stuff with your carry-on.
I have had luck with receiving compensation for individual items stolen from bags--once from New Jersey to Miami and another time from San Diego to Toronto. Airlines were U.S. Air and Continental. It took several weeks but they paid off. In the latter case (to Toronto) all of my "cutlery"--nail clippers, swiss knife, multi tools--the stuff you can no longer carry aboard--was stolen. I had the impression from airline agents in that case that such items are more frequently taken nowadays given the requirement that we check them, as a number of passengers may not complain in the belief that these items were taken for security reasons.
It might be in your best interest to purchase TSA approved locks. I use them all the time and have flown in and out of the VI via Miami, San Juan and Fort Lauderdale and have not had anything stolen....knock on wood. They're not expensive and I don't think the ramp agents would bother with them.
when i flew from omaha to STX i had to go through PR and i ended up with someones vid cam in the outside pocket of my suitcase, it had still pics of cane bay on it and well it was'nt mine and i did not know any of the people in the pics, so it had to have been taken in pr or here on stx and then just shoved in my bag when they saw how cheap it was
we've had things disappear from luggage that passed through San Juan a number of times. Once it may have been on STX before the items were removed as the suitcase was found in a back hallway in the terminal building and not in the luggage area on the day after it was supposed to have arrived. I try not to pack any electronics or small valuables in my checked bags, but it can be impossible to put all such things in your carry-on baggage on some trips. I know a lot of people who have had scuba gear go missing from luggage, especially regulators and computers and underwater cameras.
the lock you use is not so much of an issue leaving stx, because you are there when tehy inspect your bag, and it should not be reopened after that inspection. I have always just given any luggage lock to the TSA inspector, and they put it on, or spin the combo before they put the bag on the conveyor.
Coming down to the VI is where the issue comes in with needing a TSA lock, as the inspection mostly is not done in front of the flyer. Be aware, though, that TSA sometimes will cut off a TSA lock if they are presumably too lazy to look for the key. I've even gotten my bags with the lock still on, but the shackle had been cut so it was unusable.
I find the locking straps usually don't get put back on the bagafter an inspection--so we've taken to screwing them right onto the bag.
When you make a claim, the TSA response is that anyone could have messed with it, and you can't prove it was them.
Lizard, a ramp agent is the guy that loads your bags in cargo of the airplane. I work at the airport in Charlotte, N.C. and i see ramp agents drop bags on the tarmack all the time. They don't realize that they have fallen off the carrier they are driving up to the plane. Then I will watch a couple of other agents going by the bag and just leaving it there for someone else to pick up. This is why so many bags do not get to the destinations that they are going and sometimes they are just thrown in baggage lost and found areas...Ah, the joys of flying......