How to protect your luggage from being pilfered By Christopher Elliott | August 28, 2011 Philip Bramson’s iPod vanished from his checked luggage on a recent flight to Mexico, and recovering it seemed impossible. “It was hidden in my luggage, so it could only have been seen through the X-ray or a pretty thorough search,” he says. “The only place this could have happened is during the luggage handling in JFK. There was not enough time in Mexico between when we landed and I was given my luggage.” It’s an awful feeling when you open your suitcase after a long flight and notice that something’s missing. But it doesn’t have to happen to you. Last month, after I explored the extent of an airline’s liability when it comes to lost luggage — which, sadly, isn’t much — many readers asked for tips on how to avoid having their checked bags targeted. I’m happy to help. The best way to keep your valuables away from a thieving TSA agent or airline employee is to not check a bag, of course. It deprives the agent of an opportunity to enrich himself, and the airline of a $25 checked luggage fee, which it shouldn’t be charging in the first place. But that’s not always possible. People fly with stuff. They can’t — or don’t want to — carry it all on the plane. Robert Siciliano, a security consultant, said if you must check a bag, try something downscale but solid. Thieves don’t like cheap luggage, because they assume the contents are worthless. And, “hard-back luggage can’t be cut with a razor,” he says. Another tactic: the disguise. It works for Renee Fredrickson, a psychologist from Minneapolis, who often checks luggage with valuable contents. One time, she accidentally left more than $5,000 in her checked bag. It was returned to her with every penny. “It was in a canvas bag with the name and logo of my son’s preschool on it,” she recalls. “Now I use pink or purple luggage when I travel, unless I’m being met at the airport by another professional. Why not exploit cultural misperceptions?” Pack right, too. Some travelers wrap their bags in duct tape, which makes it practically impossible for anyone (including, alas, the owner) to access its contents quickly. You can hire a professional to do that. A company called Secure Wrap, which operates mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean but also has locations at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport and JFK, will cocoon your checked bag in clear plastic for a small fee. Ann Lombardi, a travel agent from Atlanta, uses two different-colored metal bread package twisties, with each pair twisted tightly and looped through the zipper holes of her small suitcase. “Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but so far, no one has ever tampered with my luggage during my travels to almost 90 countries over the years,” she says. What’s inside is just as important as the exterior, says Bill Horne, a consultant in Boston. If someone opens your bag, you want to give that person a reason to close it quickly. He uses his son’s toy sheriff badge and an ID card from a company he no longer works for. “The badge has a distinctive design which looks like a real law-enforcement shield on an airport X-ray, thus discouraging collusion between X-ray attendants and baggage handlers,” he told me. “Even if the bag is opened, a sneaky thief doesn’t have time to read the ID card, and the badge creates a visceral impression of big trouble that will motivate a dishonest baggage handler to close the bag back up and move on to the next one.” How clever. TSA-approved locks, offered by numerous luggage manufacturers, are another option, but only if you trust the TSA. Remember, TSA agents have a master key that lets them access your valuables instantly. But the real solution to this problem isn’t subterfuge or packing an airtight suitcase. It is instead stopping baggage handlers and security officials, both here and abroad, who like to help themselves to your personal belongings. That could take some effort. Although the TSA insists it has a “zero tolerance” policy on theft (um, show me an organization that publicly admits to tolerating theft) and goes to great lengths to point out how infrequently its agents are caught stealing, the agency charged with protecting the nation’s transportation systems has been in the news with some regularity because of dishonest employees. Just this summer, TSA agents made headlines for stealing cash from bags in Newark, swiping laptops from luggage in Orlando and taking $22,000 worth of watches from suitcases in Los Angeles. But the TSA isn’t the real culprit as I see it. After all, you entrusted the airline, not the government, with your bag. I suspect the only way anything will ever get fixed is if we make airlines pay for every single one of those misplaced bags. And I’m not talking about some wishy-washy international treaty that lets them off the hook for everything but lost luggage. I mean rules with real teeth that say to the airlines: If you force us to pay $25 to check a bag, and something happens to it when it’s in your care, you are responsible. By the way, Bramson’s story had a happy ending. I advised him to fill out a claim form immediately with his airline. He did, and after several e-mail exchanges and sending a receipt for the pilfered gadget, his iPod was replaced. Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google PlusFacebookTwitterLinkedInGooglePinterestReddit Related sirwired Of course airline and security personnel shouldn’t steal, but since it does indeed happen, but the fact of the matter is that they do, so why does ANYBODY put expensive compact valuable items in checked luggage? Carry it on-board. End of story. Preferably put those items in a backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you so you don’t have to worry about gate-checking. It’s kind of strange… I routinely travel with test equipment that has to be checked. The crate it’s packed in (a military-grade crate) screams “Expensive Stuff Inside!” It’s purchase price is nearly $100,000 (and it’s value on eBay isn’t bad either.) It’s valuable enough that no airline or shipping service will agree to insure it. But after almost 11 years of checking these tools (or shipping them via a variety of carriers), we haven’t had a single incident of theft. Carrie Charney Valuables are usually small enough to keep in carry-on luggage and that’s where I keep mine…and I take a minimal amount. Of course, some photographers and musicians have bigger equipment, but stuff like jewelry and cash, laptops and iPods should not be checked. Gabbygirl I’m an American living overseas and will be travelling back home to the US for a visit shortly. I thought we couldn’t use locks on our checked luggage or use the metal bread twists as stated above, because the TSA has the right to search our bags? Can someone clarify? Also, I will be bringing over 2 pieces of luggage but will be putting the small one into the big one, effectively bringing over 2 pieces, as I wanted one empty piece of luggage for things I buy when I’m stateside. Is that okay? It doesn’t seem to make sense to check 2 bags here when I’m leaving when I know that one is completely empty. Thanks. Catherinepage I normally use TSA approved locks so I have not lost anything in my suitcase to theft. However I am getting tired of purchasing TSA approved locks because they do get taken very often. DavidS “But the TSA isn’t the real culprit as I see it. After all, you entrusted the airline, not the government, with your bag.” Unfortunately, the airline cannot stay with your bag while it goes through the bowels of the TSA inspection room. :( Perhaps allowing airline staff to monitor the inspection will keep both the airline employees and TSA honest. Currently, TSA and local law enforcement DO have the ability to monitor the airline employees. Mark K Locking your bag is OK as long as you are OK with the lock being cut off your bag if TSA decides they want to look inside. Even if you use the TSA approved locks that they are supposed to have the master key too, most often they just cut the lock. You can pack anything inside the suitcase that fits (as long as it is not a prohibited item). So you could pack suitcases inside suitcases like the Russian dolls if you want. Why pay to check an empty bag? Prov35wo I don’t travel with anything valuable in checked luggage. Regardless, I always lock the bag. I’ve given up on the TSA approved locks because every one was cut off. Yes, cut off. I now use inexpensive zip ties from the hardware store, looped through the zipper like a lock. I know if someone has been in there, and it makes my bag less of a target. Mary Carter Yes, it is ok to put one suitcase insite the other and you only count them as two when they are separate Mark K First of all, why would anyone put valuables into checked luggage unless it was absolutely necessary? Second, why does it always seem when checked luggage goes missing, it is always the bag that is claimed to have the expensive Rolex, the diamond rings, piles of cash and other similar things? I have only had one checked suitcase lost by an airline so far and it was just dirty laundry and some handouts for a presentation I was giving. They did me a favor losing that piece of luggage because the clothes were old, the suitcase was old and I really didn’t feel like lugging the documents around anyway. And they paid me more than I felt the items were worth with no hassles.The TSA “goes to great lengths to point out how infrequently its agents are caught stealing.” Interesting wording. They aren’t saying their agents don’t steal, they just say they don’t get caught? Clifford P Woodrick Hi – I used the plastic electrical ties (bright orange) to seal my bags with a note for TSA inspectors to please reseal my bags with the blue ties attached to the note signed with my Navy rank retired. This system has worked for me for many years as I can tell immediately if my bag was opened as the electrical ties must be cut off. I have had some friendly notes from TSA inspectors enclosed when my bag was inspected. The Hurricane winds on the south shore of Long Island are still quite high covering the south side of my home with leaves. I see storm surge has resulted in very high water. It has just been reported that the ocean has broken through Fire Island’s Dune road which has raised the water over our marina piers. Have a safe hurricane day – Cliff jazcat100 As long as you get TSA Approved locks you can lock your luggage. They are keyed so that the TSA agents can open them and so can you, I guess TSA must have a set of keys that open any of these. Not sure about the twist ties but, since anyone can open them really, don’t know why that would be an issue. If the TSA goes in your bag you will find a nice form letter inside when you get to your destination. No big deal. I put an empty bag inside my luggage a lot, especially when I am going on a long trip or vacation. Got to have room for souvenirs. As long as you don’t exceed the weight limit of the bag, each airline is different, you are good. guest Some of us are forced to check bags, they contain tools that are prohibited from being carried on. Tools have a way of disappearing or being broken during the TSA inspections (they leave a card in the luggage to let you know it was searched), it can be very frustrating! It is not always TSA or an airline that handles your luggage, it could be a 3rd party baggage handling company at the airport, making it difficult for an airline to control. Katrina Woodrow I use zip ties as well. They are really cheap on Ebay and easily removed as long as you have access to a pair of scissors or knife on arrival. Hotel reception will usually oblige with scissors. Elmo Clarity I think a lot of the theft could be resolved if they would implement a truly secured area for the search. Something like the mint does. No coins in, no coins out. Whoever is doing the searching has to take off all their street clothes and put on a special jump suit with no pockets before going in. They have to remove it all when coming out so they can’t slip something by. The area would have to be secured so that no one could get into the area without going through the inspection. While this still leaves the path the luggage travels, that can be protected with properly monitored surveillance. But I agree with the comment that airlines should be made to pay large fines for lost luggage, regardless of what was in it. If after the 90 days (which is way too long), if they can’t produce the bag, they have to give you $5000 cash. No airline funny money. If they new they would be hit with fees like this, you can bet they would be watching that luggage a lot closer and it would make it harder for people to steal from it. But of course, none of this will happen. We are only the little people and we don’t matter. Elmo Clarity Or when leaving the secured search area, make them go through the porno-scanners and be searched if anything other than clothes are seen in the scan. Joe Farrell Stupid is as stupid does. An iPod fits in a purse or small carryon Why would they want to leave it in a checked bag? In this day and age you need to assume that your bag will be pilfered since it will likely be opened. I second the ‘travel with a beat up old piece of junk bag’ since when faced with a choice of a louis vuittion bag or a walmart special, which r they gonna hit first? All you need are good zippers. Tom Brollini I carry firearms everywhere I go in the US & they are among the most desired items for thieves. Fortunately, I have never had one stolen. With the current TSA policy after declaring them at the counter an agent excorts you to a TSA agent who inspects them & your bag then puts them back, & marks it as having TSA inspection. I have locking hard luggage with combo locks, an interior locking metal case for the guns & I ask the TSA to spin the locks & have them put duct tape around the case where the non-locking clasps are so they can’t pop open. I have never had a problem with any of the TSA people while doing this (surprisingly since I have “guns”) not like the “gestapo” jerks at the security lines. As an example, I just returned from Alaska last week. When checking in to fly to AK, the TSA people had a fit over my fishing reels packed in my carry-on & my rods I hand carried. Pulling out fishing line, running them back thru the scanner etc. Guess they were city boys!? Conversely, the agent that check the guns, wanted to talk about one of them because it was a S&W .500 which is a lot of gun. In Alaska, comming back, they asked, “how was the fishing?” as they passed the bag right on thru. Country boys, I guess. Seriously, there is a big difference in TSA & other personnel, depending on where you are. In the city/metro airports they are not as friendly, nice, accomodating (pick a word) as those in rural area airports. So, I’m not sure why, but my firearms have always arrived safely. But, I NEVER check anything of value – always carry it on, it’s the only way. Tobs Project Philadelphia baggage handlers are the worst. I lived in NYC all my life (35 yrs) and never had the problems of “stolen goods”–of course it was before 9/11 & TSA when you could lock your luggage. When moved here 12 yrs ago, a neighbor who travels as much as we do, warned me about the problem–and 12 yrs later it’s still going strong. They steal everything from new and/or known labels of clothing, shoes, bathing suits, creams, food, etc., never mind iPods! So if traveling with my husband, I split my shoes up (nobody wants 1 shoe) and divide my clothing up into his. If traveling alone, I’ll carry good clothing in a garment bad and pack belts and accessories in a carry-on. It’s mostly on outbound flights, inbound is rare except coming in from abroad. Many of us who use TSA locks are inevitably targeted and 50% of the time the locks are ripped off. Nobody has reported on the PHL airport problem but it’s endemic. Jim Zakany “Ann Lombardi, a travel agent from Atlanta, uses two different-colored metal bread package twisties, with each pair twisted tightly and looped through the zipper holes of her small suitcase.” That doesn’t keep anyone out of your bag. You could lock those two zippers together. With a ballpoint pen I can completely open your bag, then close it up again without leaving a trace. http://lifehacker.com/5747199/open-a-locked-suitcase-without-leaving-a-trace Nothing with a zipper is secure. http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BYTSTKAIMAPH57JVZAAMFQXHRQ H West How does the plastic wrap thing work? Is not the TSA going to get through the plastic wrap on occasion? It would seem that a thief could just remove the wrap and pretend that the TSA did it. What about putting a realistic plastic snake on the top layer of clothing? Bodega I use plastic zip ties and keep a nail clipper in my purse to open the tie later on. I also make the tie unique in some way so I can tell if the original was removed and then another put back in place of it. Sadie Cee This video made the rounds a few weeks ago. It caused my frequent traveller friend and I to start brainstorming a theft-proof luggage plan. Several goods ideas but we are still working on it. Jeanne_in_NE Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t seen that video. Sadie Cee I learned early in life from an elder, that we cannot protect ourselves from thieves. A determined thief will always find a way. The best we can do is to make stealing as hard for them as possible. From all that I have read, baggage theft rings are successful where several reporting levels of baggage handling personnel are in collusion! Set a thief to catch a thief! The key for me is to pack lightly and not to pack anything that I cannot afford to lose. This goes for jewellry and expensive clothing. As for the bags themselves, hard-sided, upright cases that have been banged about a bit could discourage an opportunistic thief. It is also an excellent idea to avoid basic black. Black cases are interchangeable. Forget about locks, twist ties and the like. If you can open them, so can a thief. These people are pros! We have also come to know that cases with zippers can be broken into with as little as a ballpoint pen and closed so that there is no evidence that they were ever opened. Are we any more safe from other travellers or people pretending to be travellers? As *Raven*, I think, reported on this board recently, she observed a man who came into the baggage pick-up area with three black cases on a cart. He removed three black cases from the carousel and replaced them with the three other black cases from his cart. He then left with his ill-gotten gains on the cart. She checked one of the bags that the man had left on the carousel and found it to be empty! We should be insisting on proper supervision in the baggage claim areas. A considerable amount of time can elapse between the time we deplane and the time we arrive to claim our baggage. During this interval, our baggage is unprotected. We should also be calling for the reinstitution of the old system wherein travellers were requred to present baggage claim tickets that were reconciled with the tags on the bags they were removing from site. Durant Imboden I’ve never had anything pilfered from a checked suitcase, but I make a point of not checking items that anyone would be likely to seal. On the other hand, my wife once put a few items of Murano glass jewelry in a suitcase at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport before checking her luggage, and it disappeared. (The thief obviously didn’t take time to see if the jewelry was valuable, which it wasn’t–he or she just grabbed the little suede bag from the suitcase, presumably after seeing it on an X-ray.) Eric Making sure that luggage is never inspected in an area without video surveillance might make a dent in things. It should be a requirement that anywhere luggage might be opened be under video surveillance. Eric “Second, why does it always seem when checked luggage goes missing, it is always the bag that is claimed to have the expensive Rolex, the diamond rings, piles of cash and other similar things?” Probably because it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between jewelry and dirty laundry with the X-ray machine. Eric I just had an idea. A “luggage alarm”. It’s essentially a motion detector you hide in your luggage. You cover it over with a pair of jeans or something, and then arm it with a remote, just like a your car remote, once your suitcase is zipped shut. As long as the jeans stay in place, no problem. But the instant those jeans are lifted off, say by a treasure-hunting TSA agent, a deafening 100 decibel alarm goes off. The only hang-up would be if the alarm were to be set off by shifting of the contents during handling. But I’m sure the sensitivity could be adjusted so that wouldn’t happen. http://getawaygateway.com/ Dorian It sucks that Phillip lost his IPOD………… I had 1 of my watches stolen from my bag a while back, it wasn’t just any watch either. It was such a pain in the ass trying to find the right person to talk to and finding the right avenue to take in recovering my property. great post.. locks, locks, locks and more locks.. I’m thinking about putting a snake in my bags..lol.. SURPRISE!!!!!!!!!!!! Vivi I agree with everyone who said baggage screening areas should have video cameras recording everything. Thieves would still find ways of stealing but video cameras would probably reduce at least some of the theft. But I also want to say it isn’t always airline or TSA personnel that steal. Last month at the San Juan airport another passenger had my netbook in hand and was ready to walk off with it. This guy was in front of me in the security line. He was allowed to go through the metal detector but I was sent for the x-ray screening. It takes longer to get through the x-ray than the metal detector. When I came out of the x-ray my bins had already cleared the screening and the guy that was in front of me was going through my bins. He picked up my netbook and I yelled “Hey, that is my stuff” pointing at the guy. The TSA agents looked where I was pointing, one TSA agent started toward the guy and the guy put my netbook back in the bin and high tailed it out of there. 10-15 more seconds and my netbook would have been gone. To be honest, I would have suspected the netbook was taken by one of the TSA agents and I would have been wrong. AJ Henry I had a weird one on a recent trip… I had a really cute TSA approved lock in the shape of the M&M Blue. It was gone when I collected my luggage in Anaheim. No note that said my suitcase had been searched but no lock anymore either. It was clearly marked as TSA approved with the green/red tag on it to show if the lock had been opened. I was very upset as I really liked the lock and it helped to identify the suitcase as mine. Chicky Since Chris has three cats, he will certainly appreciate this. My luggage isn’t expensive, and it’s fabric covered. This means it is one of my very large cat’s favorite scratching posts. My luggage is very much intact, but it LOOKS awful. Hey– who am I to argue with my cat’s artistic endeavors? LOL. When it goes through the scanner, the TSA people act like they don’t even want to touch it. Maybe I should get the cat to add some hairball residue. Hehe. Wrona You can still lock your luggage or use the twist ties. If you use TSA locks, the TSA is supposed to have a master key to open them (note the supposed to, sometimes they are lazy and just cut the lock off). As to the twist ties, they are perfectly fine to use. In fact, the TSA will replace them if they have to remove them. AKRaven One thing that Anchorage TSA does is stamp their “your luggage has been inspected by the TSA” flyers. The stamp has the date and time on it. This proved very helpful when an item went missing from my luggage (which always has TSA locks on it) last summer. The supervisor was able to playback the video for the date/time on my card and watch the physical inspection of my luggage and then track the luggage through the system. http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LOCND3JAJL4PGYWJBHUT3HWAZM web/gadget guru Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter *HOW* many locks you put on your suitcase…TSA approved or otherwise… look at this video to understand why: The only thing I can think of that would give your valuables a little more security is some kind of lock-box device inside your luggage…but that’s more like a “steal-me” sign than anything else. The best way I can think of is to make your luggage not worth stealing. I’m a firm believer of obfuscation! Take, for example, this moldy sandwich bag: http://www.thinkofthe.com/product.php?name=anti-theft-lunch-bags Nobody will touch that lunch in the company fridge! Do something similar to your luggage. eschew the Louis Vuitton luggage and get yourself some really nasty looking pieces…heck…if it’s bad looking enough, not even the luggage handlers will want to spend much time touching it…And there are chemicals you can get to make your luggage smell bad as well! Like that Steve Martin skit goes, he claims that he never gets mugged. When a mugger tells you to hand over your money, just vomit on it…then the mugger won’t want it anymore! Dsimundson True, but video cameras have a way of “not working” at the time you need it most. Combination of TSA, local law enforcement and airline agents rotated through the baggage area along with video surveilance would be a good first step. Airlines can pick random agents daily for the assignment to prevent collusion with TSA. GeoffDepew I think I have the most bizarre TSA bag inspection story of anyone I know. I was travelling from New York to LA to see some friends, and I literally had about five minutes between laundry finishing and my planned time to leave for JFK. So I just tossed my socks and underwear on top, and headed out. When I got to my hotel in LA (the trip was JFK through Houston to LAX), I opened my luggage to pull out my chargers (this was 2004, and chargers were larger then, for the Nomad Jukebox), and on top was a ‘this bag was searched by the TSA’ note… …and my underwear and socks were neatly folded, and the socks matched and sorted. I had just tossed them on top and spread out so I could close the suitcase. I was impressed by the service. http://twitter.com/theinfamousj Jai Infame Have you tried using zip ties? TSA will replace them if they cut them off, and they are really really cheap. http://twitter.com/theinfamousj Jai Infame However, if you have a ring of sorts right by one side of your zipper, you can not only lock the zippers together, but also to the side of the zipper track in a way that they can not be moved to reseal a hole. All of my bags have some sort of D-ring or other that I can do this to. Joe Farrell Even a FAKE snake would do the job . . . not a bad idea. . . the best alarm or security is your home is a barking dog. . . my lab might lick the arms of the thieves once they get in – but his barking will scare the feces out of them before they get in – meaning they’ll never try. Another very effective home security system is a very large doggy door on a back porch with a flashing light as if from a special collar that unlocks the doggy door. It would take a very daring thief to consider breaking into a home with a large doggy door . . . . Clare “I suspect the only way anything will ever get fixed is if we make airlines pay for every single one of those misplaced bags. And I’m not talking about some wishy-washy international treaty that lets them off the hook for everything but lost luggage. I mean rules with real teeth…” You’re onto something here Chris, and there’s already a parallel in place that shows that it works. Here in the US, airlines are responsible for all their passengers that are “TWOV,” or travelling without visa. This happens frequently, like (e.g.) when Filipinos are travelling to Toronto and their itinerary requires them to change planes in Los Angeles. They physically enter the US when they get off plane #1 in LA, but legally they cannot enter the US unless they have a visa–which they probably don’t have since their final destination is Canada. They’re only sitting in a US airport waiting for plane #2–and while they wait, THE AIRLINE IS RESPONSIBLE for these people. They are not allowed to wander around the airport on their own, because theoretically, they could abscond somehow, and end up in the US without authorization. If a fed officer finds a TWOV wandering the airport, he is marched over to his airline’s desk and the airline is fined thousands of dollars (don’t know how much it is any more). Uh, ya think there’s an incentive here for airlines to make sure TWOV’s don’t get away? As Sarah Palin would say, “you betcha!” This is why in the US, planeloads-full of TWOV’s en route to another country are escorted by airline reps to their next plane’s gate, and baby-sat until they get on the next plane. Are airlines doing this just “because it’s the right thing to do” or because they “truly care about the security of this great nation”? Oh, please. Money talks! cjr001 This is just another example of why TSA’s procedures are a joke. They INVITE theft at the security line, particularly if you’ve been singled out for enhanced groping. AbbeyW I just saw a video online that demonstrates how useless luggage locks are (on zippered bags). The demo shows how to use a regular ballpoint pen to unzip the bag, then use the two zippers (still locked together) to re-close it. It appears as though the luggage was never opened. My policy: only bring items you can afford to lose on vacation. http://www.facebook.com/people/Dave-Brotman/748088141 Dave Brotman My wife and I were flying from Guelin to Guangzhou in 1989. At the airport in Huelin we were required to buy locks for our luggage, of course the locks were kind of primative and one key fit alll the locks. Needless to say, my wife’s luggage jad been pilfered when we reached Guangzhou. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=530479200 Dana Scheider If you have a gun, you can check it in your luggage and your bag will be handled with increased security. I know of many people traveling with expensive equipment (e.g. photographers) who take this approach. It doesn’t have to be loaded; indeed you can’t check live rounds. But even a disassembled gun needs to be announced and subjected to additional security. Trepi34 i like it Melanie Pini What’s funny is that my luggage is ALWAYS checked, with a 90% success rate of the airport personnel remembering to actually place the flyer in my luggage explaining that they did look inside. Only once, was it clear (to me, at any rate) that my luggage had been opened, lightly disturbed and then sealed up without the sweet little flyer. I actually enjoy the flyer because that becomes my bookmark for the duration of my trip. However, I pack a rather dated and certainly heavy laptop, so I anticipate the perusal, due to the shape of the laptop and the additional necessary cords. I’m sure that the scanning personnel freak when they see my bundled batch of cords, with external battery-thingy. Also, using the packing straps inside the luggage, seems to trigger their attention as well, or at least they deliberately chose not to reset the straps. What’s the point of strapping down the luggage to reduce shifting, if airport or TSA personnel go all willy-nilly and release my luggage from its bondage? Melanie Pini well, it’s not quite a “tool” but I do find it annoying that I always have to replace my eyeliner since TSA seems compelled to break it in half every single d*mn time I fly. It is not my fault that the manufacturer decided to only partially fill the hollow tube halfway with the liner wax pencil. Melanie Pini sadly, it took me 2 round-trips to figure out why my eyeliner was always broken. http://profile.yahoo.com/EJYTVXVXMBUBZO6I7XZJG6DMVU yahoo-EJYTVXVXMBUBZO6I7XZJG6DMVU Completely agree. Flying out of Buffalo Niagara was a real pain in the rear. Flying from South Dakota’s airport in Sioux Falls was one of the most pain-free, and easy experiences. http://www.facebook.com/guy.m.guyadeen Guy M. Guyadeen If someone wants to get into your luggage they can do it without breaking or cutting the locks. Check out the following video on YouTube to see just how easily it’s done.. chealth I have had items stolen from my luggage through Air Madagascar (TNR). I have contacted themvia phone and they told me to sent an email to a specific address.. I have been emailing this address along with any other type of airmada customer service email I can find on the internet since January, and I have had no reply what-so-ever. Unfortunately, I have to use their airline service again to get home. Is it okay to fill my suitcase with fish hooks (would it set off the machine and require a search)?Of course I will count them before I put them in so I know how many are in the suitcase (so I don’t get hurt when I unpack). I really just don’t want them taking my stuff again and getting away with it. chealth I have had items stolen from my luggage through Air Madagascar (TNR). I have contacted themvia phone and they told me to sent an email to a specific address.. I have been emailing this address along with any other type of airmada customer service email I can find on the internet since January, and I have had no reply what-so-ever. Unfortunately, I have to use their airline service again to get home. Is it okay to fill my suitcase with fish hooks (would it set off the machine and require a search)?Of course I will count them before I put them in so I know how many are in the suitcase (so I don’t get hurt when I unpack). I really just don’t want them taking my stuff again and getting away with it.