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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

"New" rules/guidelines for checked baggage
Jim Fridenmaker, Photographer
Portsmouth | OH | USA | Posted: 12:29 PM on 12.20.02
->> http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0212200330dec20,0,2622065.story?coll=chi-news-hed

From the Chicago Tribune article...

100% screening of checked baggage deadline is December 31.

Don't lock bags; if there is an alert on it, locks will be cut. 30% false positive rate.

buy plastic cables or zip ties at hardware stores instead just to know if your baggage has been opened...

From the Transportation Security Administration tips for packing section...

Don't pack film; screening equipment will damage it.

I know I've always been conservative when travelling forever; but always get hassled on hand inspection for film for carryon. No more "it won't happen" to "unlikely to happen". It will happen. :-(

Jim
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Michael McNamara, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 12.20.02
->> I saw this on CNN yesterday. My lockable Pelican case has lost a lot of luster in the since then.
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Bill Frakes, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 1:54 PM on 12.20.02
->> I've had checked baggage inspected after being X-rayed, they LOVE seeing those flash wizzards on the screen, but they have always had me come and be present before opening a bag.

Did the report indicate that they are going to go into people's bags without them present?
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 2:01 PM on 12.20.02
->> Bill, from what I gather from the story, this is for checked baggage. Something about a deadline to have 100% of checked baggage screened. I'll be damned if I'm going to use nylon quick ties as my main security for my gear.

However, back when I bought my Pelican 1650 I checked with a few of my regular airports and was told that if I really wanted too, I could arrive early and have my checked bag hand inspected before checking it.

There may still be ways around it.
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Bill Frakes, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 2:13 PM on 12.20.02
->> Thanks.

Our concerns are similar. I am worried that the gear I check will be opened, inspected and not replaced properly or at all. I spend a lot of time taking care of my cameras, and accessories, and I don't really want someone else handling them without me there.

I can see that though that is could be a logistical nightmare for airports, they will need to be going through cases quickly and bringing people to an area where they are opening baggage may take too long.
I'm not sure what the compromise is, but I hope they can arrive at one. Safety is ultimately the chief concern certainly, but consideration also has to be given to individuals personal items.

Imagine how long it will take just for my remotes.
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Zack Uribe, Photographer
Santa Clara | CA | USA | Posted: 2:15 PM on 12.20.02
->> As Bill mentioned, sometimes the ticket agent will make you have your bag hand screened, or sent through the CTX machine before you get your boarding pass...maybe you can request this treatment and explain that you have to lock your gear for Insurance reasons. By default the Airline only covers up to $1500-$2500 per piece of luggage.
Bill, in the story they did say that they will open your bag without your presence...but will include the business card of the TSA screener inside your bag. They said if there is a lock on the luggage and THEY DAMAGE the luggage, they are not liable. They said any "lost item" claims from this search will be handled on a case by case basis..
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Larry W. Smith, Photographer
Valley Center | KS | USA | Posted: 3:01 PM on 12.20.02
->> Yes I too saw this on TV and they said all checked luggage would be gone through and any lock, or other device on the luggage cut off, but replaced with a zip tie after being searched. So if something ends up missing, or damaged and it will for some cases then you will have to file a claim wait for it to be looked over, handlers in multiple airports questioned by airport personal, then your told nothing can be done about it, and you have to file a complaint wait again, etc. etc., and depending on what you lost you will never regain enough to replace or fix so you have to file insurance claim, then your insurance goes up, it's a no win situation. If possible better off sending equipment we can't carry on with FedEx. After having a good friend have his luggage end up missing from the airport about four years ago and him having to go through all this then and it took him 5 months to be told his equipment wasn't worth what he said it was and never getting what he deserved for it. Seems things are going to get worse before getting better.
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Michael Zito, Photographer
West Hills | CA | USA | Posted: 5:41 PM on 12.20.02
->> When I flew out of Seattle back to LA in November, SEATAC already had the bomb machines in place. You would check in at the counter, and then, carry your bags that were to be "checked" over to the machine and wait to get the OK from the TSA. I left mine unlocked, then locked the case after it had gone through. I was given my claim check and proceeded through security. My mono pods were what made the screeners open my case.
United out of Burbank had the same Bomb checking policy counter-walk to machine with bags, then wait for the OK.
On a busy night this could take a lot of time.
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Wally Nell, Photographer
SAN DIEGO (La Mesa) | CA | USA | Posted: 5:45 PM on 12.20.02
->> Yes same thing happened to me a couple weeks ago flying out of San Diego. The machine was right there, and you checked in, and walked your luggage to the machine, and had it screened. Worked fine with no major delay. Then again San Diego is not quite the hobknob of airport activity in the country!
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 10:18 PM on 12.20.02
->> Flying out of Dulles Int'l about a year ago I got on board with my trusty Stealth backpack, no one ever asked me to open it, despite the two laptops, three digital bodies, I don't know how many cords, chargers, cables, etc....and of course a THREE INCH flat head screw driver I forgot to ditch.

Nice to know the TSA has such great security around Washington, D.C.

Good thing I lost the keys to my long lens trunks, and my bodies and laptops always travel as carry on.
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Ron Scheffler, Photographer
Toronto area (Hamilton) | Ontario | Canada | Posted: 11:40 PM on 12.20.02
->> For the last few years whenever I've flown out of Germany (mostly Munich) it has been standard procedure to have all check-in bags X-rayed while in line to check in. It has never caused any serious delay. Of course, every once in a while, they will make me open a bag due to some suspicious item such as a light stand, etc. So, I guess this really isn't something new, at least not in some countries outside the USA. By the way, they don't use the new CTX machines in Germany (at least not yet in Munich).

I've been asked once so far this year to have my equipment case scanned by the CTX. It was in Dallas. After running the case through the machine, the agents still asked to open it, and it was done in my presence. But, at the speed these TSA guys worked with the CTX (and based on what I witnessed in Providence, although those operators were probably in training), it could cause some significant delays if it takes them a minute to analyse each item and a few more minutes to open some of those. When I offered to repack the case, the agent stated that it was against policy (because I could in theory stash something in the case after it had been inspected) unless it was in my opinion that he was doing a really bad job of repacking. At least with this agent, he handled the equipment carefully and repacked it about as well as I would have. After the inspection, I locked on the case as I usually do.

In Providence, there are three or four of the CTX machines in the check-in lobby area, so my assumption (purely speculation) would be that the inspection will occur in a location where you can observe the TSA agents. It would make sense to do the screening before the baggage leaves the passengers' control so that it isn't necessary to track down and remove passengers with suspicious luggage from flights that are already boarded.
Looks like just one more procedure to make air travel just that much more inefficient. I'm sure in some cases, the time spent checking in will be longer than the actual flight.... such is life.
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 1:13 AM on 12.21.02
->> Mr. Frischling writes,

"Flying out of Dulles Int'l about a year ago I got on board with...a THREE INCH flat head screw driver I forgot to ditch...Nice to know the TSA has such great security around Washington, D.C."

The first TSA screeners began operating at BWI Airport on April 30, 2002. In other words, they weren't anywhere NEAR Dulles--or any other airport--this time last year.

We now return you to your regularly fact-filled message board...
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 1:22 AM on 12.21.02
->> Back on topic...

If you regularly travel with a lot of gear, I'd suggest looking into opening an air cargo account. Setting one up is relatively easy, and once your status is verified with an airline (I primarily use, and highly recommend, Southwest Airlines for cargo...the trick is not to put yourself on their planes) as a "known, verified shipper," your shipments won't be subject to search like your checked bags will. You can lock your cases, put film in them, whatever, and not have to worry about it. And in the (unlikely, for now) event that your shipment IS searched, it will be done right there in front of you, before you tender the shipment.

Besides, it's MUCH cheaper than paying excess/overweight baggage fees, and you never have to worry about lugging those 4 or 5 Lightwares from the baggage claim to the rental car bus to your rental car.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 8:35 AM on 12.21.02
->> Darren:

My mistake, it was the FAA, and privately run security.

I did call the FAA security line after the incident though, and they tried to blame me for bringing the screw driver on.
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Rich Pilling, Photographer
New York | NY | U.S.A. | Posted: 12:33 PM on 12.21.02
->> I will be traveling on vacation soon without my gear. Simply clothing. Yeah I know the dirty socks and sex toys will grab someones attention :-). But seriously, do you think this will effect or slow me down when I check in?
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 12:38 PM on 12.21.02
->> Rich,

If you were traveling with Vesely you would be rolling into EWR about 4 hours early. Then you would be at the Continental gate with 3 1/2 hours to kill and nothing but a really bad McDonalds to eat at.
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Rich Pilling, Photographer
New York | NY | U.S.A. | Posted: 2:33 PM on 12.21.02
->> hahahahaha, so true
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Doug Giese, Photographer
Rancho Santa Fe | CA | USA | Posted: 2:34 PM on 12.21.02
->> I just made a quick trip from San Diego (on Delta) to Ft. Lauderdale and back this week. From what I saw on the videos, screening for checked bags will take place 'behind the scenes' out of your presence. If something looks suspicious, they'll open the bags (locked or not), search them, then leave a note (about the size of a boarding pass). The TSA people would presumably re-pack your bags.

The videos strongly suggested not carrying food, particularly chocolate (it has the same density as plastic explosives). I vaguely remember the videos saying jars of stuff like peanut butter also look suspicious. They also suggested if you carry books, not to stack them, but to lay them side by side. Shoes should be put top of everything.

The lines were long, long, long. At Delta, the e-ticket check-in kiosks cut the wait from an hour to maybe ten minutes to check bags. If you're a member of their Crown Room (?), flying first/business class, or are a preferred freq. flyer, you can mostly bypass the security screening line (in SD Wed., the main security line looked to be at least an hour long).
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Michael McNamara, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 12:42 PM on 01.01.03
->> Now that this has been implemented on a mass scale, and since most of the reports I saw stated that bag screening would, in fact, be somewhere between check-in and the plane, so you can't supervise, has anybody had any problems? Have you asked to be there when they screen it, so they don't kill your equipment? Can you put locks on it after they're done, not just a piece of tape and a twist-tie that the TSA is doing?
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 1:52 PM on 01.01.03
->> The CNN story last night stated that there will no longer be hand checks for checked baggage at the counter. All checked baggage will no go through a CTX scanner, and bags will be checked by the CTX scanner, bags will be opened at will by the baggage screeners WITHOUT you being present.

I am quite worried about putting my gear under a plane knowing that a baggage handler can open it and go through it. I have visions on an empty 400f2.8 case showing up in San Diego on Jan 24 with no lens in it.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 2:41 PM on 01.01.03
->> Steven-

There will be lots of hand checks, because not every airport has CTX scanners installed yet....there will be all manner of checks, including hand checks and dogs sniffing your bags.

I think if you explain your situation to your counter agent, especially if you are a frequent flyer on that airline...you may be able to get your bags hand checked for the time being.....
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Amherst | MA | USA | Posted: 3:44 PM on 01.01.03
->> Robert:

CNN's report is that only five commercial airports in the U.S. have failed to meet the Dec 31 deadline for being able to CTX all baggage.

I spoke with Delta and United this morning (I am flying them to/from the Super Bowl), Delta said that considerations may be made for Business and First class passengers at the agents discression, United airlines has told me that the TSA claims there will be no hand checking of bags
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 4:19 PM on 01.01.03
->> Plenty of hand checking in Austin this morning, in addition to the CTX scanners.

At this point, the last people I'd listen to are the airlines' phone reps. They really have no clue about what goes on in individual airports. The sad fact is that the procedures are going to differ form airport to airport, and you're not going to know for sure until you get there. Most airports are still trying to figure out how to best implement the system to minimize waiting and inconvenience, which means that everything will probably be in a state of flux for a few months until all the bugs get ironed out.

You can bet that the TSA won't make exceptions for first and business class passengers; in their brief history they've shown no desire to discriminate between higher-paying passengers or elite frequent flyers and everybody else, so why would they start now?

The only sure-fire solution is to just not check bags. FedEx or air freight your large cases, and carry a backpack and laptop on with you.

I'm actually finding this to be a blessing in disguise. Even my suitcase gets sent via air cargo now. I'm forced to not procrastinate and pack a day early, and now I can arrive at the airport 45 minutes before my flight without any problems.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Tucson | AZ | USA | Posted: 4:20 PM on 01.01.03
->> Bill...
With your remotes, you better arrive a week before your flight.
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Thad Parsons, Student/Intern, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 12:05 AM on 01.03.03
->> News from Philly...
I have a friend that works there and said that they may not be able to install the CTX scanners in the airport b/c of weight issues. The plan is to install the scanners on the first floor near the check-in area but since the airport is built on reclaimed land, it was not designed to hold the weight of all the machines. In other words, the airport would sink if they installed the number of machines that they need to install in Philly.
Just another small oversight by someone in government.
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Rich Pilling, Photographer
New York | NY | U.S.A. | Posted: 12:43 PM on 01.03.03
->> I just returned from a vacation with my family to the West Coast. Although I was not traveling with any camera gear, other than a couple of personal point and shoot cameras that were in my carry on bags, the trip went very smoothly. We were able to do curbside check in at Newark, NJ on our outbound trip. They had the CTX machines there, but did not ask any of the five of us to have our checked luggage screened. We returned from San Francisco, CA and went through curbside check in with the same ease. I must admit that I was very uncomfortable sending my checked luggage through without locking it. I totally agree with Darren Carroll, when I travel on business I will ship my gear to my destination ahead of time and carry on my laptop, compact flash cards and other necessary items. Unfortunately for guys like Bill Frakes and the other SI shooters, they probably won't have the convenience of shipping their gear a day or two in advance since they usually move around on such short notice.
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Larry Placido, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 8:30 PM on 01.04.03
->> I just got back from Tempe this morning. On my outbound leg from SFO to PHX, my bag with ALL my cameras, long lenses, etc. was locked. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up at the hotel and found the little TSA note saying the bag was searched. Somehow the TSA guys "jimmied" my lock, inspected the bag and put the lock back on... But, on my return to SFO, my lock was gone and I was about ready to have a major coronary. Checked my stuff, everything was there, (Thank GOD...) and America West even left an envelope(with an apology for cutting the lock) and a replacement lock to boot!

I'll have to agree with Darren and Rich and ship my stuff the day before... It is pricey to pay for anything over the 70 lb. limit. Especially now, what with all the airlines losing money. Along the same lines, I read in the SF Chronicle about a week or so ago that Northwest said they were going to lower their weight limit from 70 to 50 pounds. I'm sure that other airlines will follow suit also. Another reason to ship you stuff early...
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 10:42 PM on 01.04.03
->> I'm getting mixed up with multiple threads on the subject, but to answer Larry's comment:

1). That really sucks that your bags were searched. But the new "no-lock" policies have been pretty well publicized (including here on this board) for weeks. So I don't understand where your surprise comes from.

2). Northwest already lowered their limit to 50 lbs., with a $25 fee for baggage between 51 and 70 lbs. And there was much complaining. So they exempted their "elite" frequent fliers (that is, Silver, Gold and Platinum Worldperks members). Now you don't hear much carping about it.

Once Northwest announced they were doing this in November, American and United announced they were going to do the same thing. United ditched the idea with their bankruptcy filing, and since American can't do anything without United doing it first, they've shelved the idea too...for now. Stay tuned...

3). Someone actually flies America West?
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Larry Placido, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 11:47 PM on 01.04.03
->> Darren,
My surprise came from the fact that they "jimmied" the lock in the first place. I really didn't expect that one. And regarding the Northwest comment, I might have read it farther back than I thought. The last couple of months were a blur for me...

But, I stand corrected. Thanks for the info Darren.
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Thread Title: "New" rules/guidelines for checked baggage
Thread Started By: Jim Fridenmaker
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