Have you found items missing from your checked luggage after a US flight? Anyone who’s traveled with expensive equipment can relate to the problems, especially frequent travelers. With the arrest of TSA inspectors and officers for theft and the losses incurred by travelers, it is time for US travelers to take action against the disorganized and ineffective TSA. TSA funding is allocated by federal lawmakers , i.e . congressional and senate control. If US citizens make it known of their displeasure and the inefficiencies of TSA, perhaps we will garner the change necessary to make our airport and airline security safer yet more traveler friendly.
Points to mention:
1. TSA will cut your locks or open the TSA approved locks. Sometimes they don’t lock it back, even if you supply the cable ties or the TSA approved lock. They will cut the TSA locks, too. These locks are a big hoax. Yes, TSA has a key, but the inspectors don’t have it. It’s in a back room. For them to go check out the key to open your bag will take 10-20 minutes. So they don’t do it. And lucky for you because if they did, your bags would miss the flight. So TSA locks are cut off, same as all others. Further more the policy is that they don’ have to reseal the bags once inspected. So even if you supply cable ties, they don’t actually have to use them and will usually get lost while they rummage through you stuff. Your luggage is then exposed to easy theft, pilfering and even put things in (Corby Case), assuming the TSA are honest. How people can walk out of the airport with a housing or something valuable is also unbelievable. The ease of which to get the TSA approved lock master key makes it a moot point.
2. TSA use to check the bags outside the terminal in the view of the passengers and relock the bags when requested by you. Now some terminals and airports have the checks in the back and out of sight. With the Corby case in Bali, locking bags for international travel is definitely vital. Can you imagine flying into Singapore or Malaysia with a bag full of cocaine put in by a syndicate? They hang you for it in those countries for distribution weight… and very quickly too. Why did they have to bring it to the back again for some airports or even some terminals in certain airports? The system when first implemented allowed passengers to be accountable for their luggage and TSA for anything missing. Now they play pass the buck. $30 million in loss or damage pay off from TSA last year is not an acceptable percentage.
3. If there is anything lost or damaged, there should be a quick resolution to claims. Baggage insurance is limited from the airline but zero from TSA so it’s federal money paying you back for damages/losses. Since we are paying for TSA with the surcharge, isn’t a larger loss/damage liability reasonable?
4. US airlines are folding like dot com ventures already. If passengers are unwilling to fly because of fear of losing their valuables, how are the others going to survive?
My suggestions for change:
1. All inspected bags to be re-sealed afterwards.
2. TSA inspection stations to be located out front, in open areas, and baggage owners allowed to view inspection, wherever physically possible. This is done in Germany, the UK and France and a few other countries in asia. But flying from other countries to the US, different security measures are in place. LAX Tom Bradley terminal has this too for international flights but not the other 6 terminals.
3. Inspectors required to mark an individual code on the inspection slip left in your luggage. If there is a problem or violation of procedure, this would identify the inspector involved. Inspection slips should be pre-stamped with another code that identifies the airport and specific inspection station, so if an inspector fails to mark his/her own code on the slip, it can still be identified where the problem occurred. Then there is accountability.
4. Inspection/ check-in procedures should be standardized at all airports, or if this is not feasible, airlines should be required to state in your travel documents the procedure in place where you will be checking in luggage for their flight. At some check-ins you have to have your bags pre-sealed with tie wraps, as the bags will go on a belt and be inspected in back. At others you can use locks but must stand by with a key in case they need to open the bags for inspection. At others you are supposed to turn the bags in with the locks open, and the inspectors will lock them after inspection. Who is to know what to do?
5. TSA recruiting policy should follow the same guidelines as recruiting for police/law enforcement. They should also be screened on entry and exit. Many stores have this policy of checking employees bags when leaving.
As said before, TSA is a federal agency. Write to your congress representative or Senator regarding this issue, since they are in charge of TSA budgets etc. Working professionals and amateurs alike want their equipment safe, regardless of profession. Being a vocal minority will be better than bitching and complaining online about TSA. Take action and let’s make some changes for the betterment of air travel for all.
Below is a link for the list of Congressional Reps, please use it to find your reps and let them know how TSA affects you.