Joy spend last week and the weekend with her mother and sisters in Oklahoma City for a Women of Faith conference. She had an amazing time, both with the conference and with getting to spend some quality time with her family. Well, today Joy flew back home aboard Delta Airlines. I left work a little early and picked her up at the airport. As we were sitting in front of the baggage claim chatting, the carousel came to life and started spitting out our luggage. It wasn’t long before we spotted my wife’s suitcase and I leaned over to grab it. As I flipped it around and put the wheels to the ground, I noticed that the top of the suitcase was un-zipped. The two zippers were about 8-10 inches apart. I didn’t think much about it and preceded to walk it and my wife out to our car. We went home and settled in, making dinner plans and unpacking.
Since it was Joy’s birthday, I decided to call her favorite restaurant to make reservations. Then I heard it. Joy let out an anguished “Oh no!!!” and I ran to her side. It turns out the reason her suitcase was “ajar” was because some Delta cretin or TSA troll had pilfered her suitcase and stolen her jewelry! The odd thing is they didn’t even bother to take her little jewelry case that it was all in. They simply popped it open and took her rings, necklaces, and bracelets. All they left was about $0.55 in change and a button (It’s almost like adding insult to injury).
I didn’t know what to do. I felt her anguish, especially after she told me that a lot of that jewelry was bought during her trip to Israel several years ago. There were two cartouches with her name on them, one a gift from me and the other from Israel. I think that’s what hurt her the most… not the monetary value of the items, but because they had strong sentimental value and they were a “little” hard to get. We both knew she shouldn’t have packed them in the luggage, but you’d expect with heightened Homeland Security and the increased fees for checking baggage, that maybe, just maybe, her stuff would be safe.
Flushed with anger, Joy immediately called Delta’s “customer service” line and explained the situation. Without fail, every service rep she was transferred to told her that Delta was “not responsible for lost and damaged items.” It was almost as if each rep had that plastered on top of the monitor in their cubicle. What a great corporate philosophy!!! I can understand the freak accident where a baggage cart might smash your suitcase, but it’s pretty damned low to claim you’re not responsible for the very thing you now charge us MORE to take care of!!! Hiding behind that phrase just gives some crooked baggage handler or luggage screener a carte blanche to help himself to your niceties.
She was told to fill out a Damage/Pilferage Claim Form and attach copies of her receipts and other proofs of purchase. I doubt we’ll be able to produce any such items, but even if we did, she’ll probably get a canned response with some garbage about “tariff rules and the ticket contract covering your travel excludes responsibility for jewelry, cash, camera equipment, electronic equipment, or computer equipment contained in checked or unchecked baggage” which basically says “we’re not responsible for protecting the most valuable stuff you trust us with because, hey, we might like to get some of dat!!!”
I think what disturbs me the most about the whole situation is the general acceptance that flying these days involves contact with highly unethical, immoral and/or criminal people. Everyone seems to just accept that theft will occur and work around it. We should be more outraged at airlines and airline employees that allow this behavior to occur. WE’RE the ones treated like criminals… arriving earlier and earlier for increasingly invasive personal checks, paying larger fees for luggage and yet no one is bothering to check whether an employee in the baggage area is going home every night with pocket fulls of jewelry and electronics?!? Where’s the metal detector in the employee area???
After thinking about it, and reading similar tales of woe on the internet, I bet the TSA is to blame for this. The baggage handlers probably barely have time to go to the bathroom, let alone pilfer your suitcase. They’d have to be pretty good at spotting the luggage with valuables in them too. The TSA, on the other hand, has x-ray machines hidden in the bowels of the airport and have every right “in the interest of homeland security” to examine any and every suitcase they want. In fact, the TSA’s site specifically says not to put valuables in your bag. Apparently they know their $8.00 employees will steal them.
Oh well, lesson learned. I just wish it hadn’t happened on her birthday. From now on, anything of value will be carried on, or if it’s too big, shipped home via Fed-Ex. That way at least our stuff would be safe home on our door step and not in the mitts of some greedy goon.