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Old August 6th, 2002, 09:50 PM
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Default Baggage/Airline Security Questions

I flew this weekend (unfortunately NOT for a cruise), and the security process reminded me about an issue that I've wondered about for some time. On checking in at the ticket counter, the airline representative has (for years, I think) asked some standard questions about passenger baggage. You know the ones, they go more or less like this:
Did you pack your own baggage?
Did anyone unknown to you ask that you carry an item onboard or in your baggage?
And the one I wonder about: Has your baggage been out of your control at any time since you packed it?

Wellllll....I know that the airlines have long been aware that people take cruises, tours, busses, etc., and turn over their luggage for storage with bellmen, etc.

Usually, on a cruise, baggage is placed outside the cabin door the night before disembarkation for collection. On our last Princess cruise, the crew did a great job of picking up bags within a short time after they were placed in the hall, but on other cruises and tours, bags often sit out in public areas for quite some time before collection. Of course, almost everyone locks their bags, so I expect that, technically, that keeps them under our control. Certainly if I feel that a cruise line has adequate safety and security to make me feel comfortable putting my personal safety in their hands, I have few qualms about their baggage security. I just wonder if anyone has answered "No....I checked it into baggage storage at the hotel until my tour was over", etc, etc. I have no illusions about safety defense against a commited sabatour/terrorist -- I am just curious about the airlines handling of a passenger who, in good faith, answers "No". Has anyone experienced or witnessed this in their travels?
Perhaps someone who works with an airline is a regular on this board?
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Old August 7th, 2002, 07:33 AM
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Default Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

We had the experience of the airline knowing our bags were transported all the way to the airport by the cruise line. All 40 or 50 or so passengers on our bus were made to open ALL our luggage for inspection. When we arrived there was no line. Can't say that for when we finally cleared. Luckically we were one of the first off the bus. I guess if you say answer in the negative to any of those standard questions, all your bags are going to be subject to search.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 01:36 PM
MikeInPgh
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Default Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

I have often thought the same thing. What do you answer?

I feel my bags are reasonable tamper proof. I use a heavy MasterLock combination loch desgined for luggage plus a zip-tie (like the police plastic handcuffs) that has to be cut off in order to open. I make sure those are both secure anytime I get my luggage back. I carry spare zip-ties in my carryon in case they ask me to open a bag.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 05:40 PM
Frank
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Default Re: Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

MikeInPgh wrote:

> I feel my bags are reasonable tamper proof. I use a heavy
> MasterLock combination loch desgined for luggage plus a zip-tie
> (like the police plastic handcuffs) that has to be cut off in
> order to open. I make sure those are both secure anytime I get
> my luggage back. I carry spare zip-ties in my carryon in case
> they ask me to open a bag.

We, OTOH, never lock our luggage. We figure if someone wants to get into them, they will find a way and end up wrecking the luggage. It would seem that locking luggage would be similar to letting a pickpocket know where your wallet is - it must be locked because there is something worthwhile to steal.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

KCalla,

You know the ones, they go more or less like this:
Did you pack your own baggage?
Did anyone unknown to you ask that you carry an item onboard or in your baggage?
And the one I wonder about: Has your baggage been out of your control at any time since you packed it?


I always answer these questions honestly. If asked the last, I tell them that the bag has been in my posession except for a period of time when my cruise line was unloading it, that it was locked during that period, and that I inspected the bag when I recliamed it and found no evidence of tampering. So far, I have not been asked to open any bags for further inspection at the check-in counter -- and I have taken two cruises since the "9/11" attacks.

Norm.
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Old August 7th, 2002, 09:24 PM
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Default Re: Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

Thanks for all of the input. Norm, it sounds like your answer covers it all, I hope I have the presence of mind to give them that factual information so clearly when the situation presents. Bill, I cannot (or rather, would prefer to not) imagine what it would have been like to be at the END of that line! Mike, we've always used zip ties, too, as a quick visual check for tampering...but I used to keep a small pair of scissors in the top (unlocked) outside compartment of my carry on for quick opening. I'm not sure that that is a security option now. Last winter, we had nailclippers that had an internal file confiscated at security, but not nailclippers that had no file, so that may be an alternative for me to scissors to cut the zip ties. I read once that some zip ties are easier to "unzip" than others. Another tip I've read is to use colored, rather than the more common white zip ties if you are using them as a tamper indictor. Frank may well be right...maybe my feeble locks and ties only reassure me that nothing has accidently spilled out rather than securing the contents.
Thanks again, all -K
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Old August 7th, 2002, 10:43 PM
Carole Dunham
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Default Re: Re: Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

I live in Miami and my daughter lives in DC, and I fly up to see her frequently (love the Kennedy Center). Flying in and out of Reagan National is the tightest security airport I've ever encountered with the exception of Tel Aviv. Absolutely EVERY time I fly out of Reagan my baggage is taken aside for special handling (and I too answer the questions honestly). They are the only flights in the US where I know there will be a sky marshall on board. We aren't allowed out of our seats the half hour we are closest to DC. If anyone gets up the flight is diverted to BWI. But boy do I sleep on those flights!

Carole
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Old August 11th, 2002, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

I like the zip tie idea. We lock our luggage to avoid spills more than to keep someone out. If they want in, they'll get in anyway! Always have valuables in a carry-on. And I don't take jewelry or any other valuables that has sentimental value and couldn't be replaced.

Gloria
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Old August 11th, 2002, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: Baggage/Airline Security Questions

Carole,

I vote to take all the premium tier frequent fliers who can qualify for security clearances and invite them to become "volunteer speical air marshals" (VSAM's). They could go to a special briefing room upon check-in to draw a .38 magnum with a laser precision sight, two full magazine clips,and a box of spare rounds (all of which they would carry concealed) and to receive a briefing on the secruity status of their flights. Upon arrival at their destination, they would turn in the weapon, the magazine clips, and the spare rounds and receive a debrief. This would put anywhere from a dozen to perhaps a hundred armed marshals aboard every flight at no cost to either the government or the airlines other than the cost of training -- which would be pretty minimal. You have to figure that premium tier frequent fliers fly often enough to recognize abnormal activity, and you don't need much training to hit a target with a laser sight since the bullet will go right where you put the red dot when you fire it.

Look at this from a terrorist's perspective -- you have no way of knowing how many armed marshals will be on any given flight, but you can be pretty sure that there will be at least half a dozen. There's also the possibility that everybody else on a full plane could be a VSAM.

Would that help you to sleep on an airplane?

Norm.
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