Earlier this week, Laura Ingraham took to her radio show to complain that her luggage had been rifled through by someone after she checked it in for a Continental flight and how some $11,000 in jewelry (mostly not her own!) was pilfered from it. She's been on sort of a tear about it all week. Now, a lot of the things Ingraham gets angry about can be controversial, but it's hard to argue with her reaction on this one. First of all, if you've ever had anything stolen in the course of air travel, you know how maddening it can be. There is almost nothing you can do, and it immediately becomes clear that this kind of theft is systemic and the airlines have no interest in solving the problem. This feeling of helplessness makes you want to grab a megaphone and start screaming to whomever will listen not to fly that airline, or not to use that airport, or to hunt down the president of that company in his own home and punch him in his sniveling face in front of his children.
Occasionally, the person who gets screwed over by the airlines is a journalist, and that's when the fun begins. Because those people do have a megaphone. (One of the most pleasurable blog posts I ever wrote was a situation like this.) In Laura's case, she gives credit to the Port Authority Police at Newark for being helpful and considerate. But she lambastes the Continental employees and the Transportation Security Administration for giving her the runaround and even for blaming her for putting her jewelry in her checked bags.
Is it relatively unwise to check valuables? Yes. Is it beyond absurd that the airlines expect you to not do so because it's assumed their employees will steal from you? Double yes. The problem, as Ingraham discovered the hard way, is that there's no unbroken chain of custody for your bags. Since both the TSA and the airlines handle them, neither of them is culpable if you're missing something. If airlines had any interest in actually protecting their customers, they'd lobby to change this policy. Have airline employees go through licensing by TSA officials, the way a lifeguard is officially certified by the Red Cross, for example. Have cameras in every spot where their own employees handle bags. Or better yet, have TSA employees handle baggage every step of the way. That way, if someone got robbed, they'd know who to sue. You think the airlines and TSA would let this kind of wanton robbery go on if there was a steep financial consequence? As it is, the monetary incentives go the other way.
Of course, this problem will never get fixed, no matter how angry you get and no matter how many megaphones you buy. And please, nobody really do that thing where you hunt down the president of the airline and physically assault them. If Laura Ingraham can keep herself in check, so can you. (If someone at Continental steals from Michelle Malkin, though, heaven help every executive at that company ...)
Laura Ingraham: Airport workers stole my baptismal cross! [Daily Caller]