TSA – What can you do?

Oh I just hate the TSA.

OK, OK, they have a job to do, to keep us travellers safe, but come on. When you spend an age packing camera kit so that it won’t get damaged in transit while it is hurled about by airline baggage handlers only to arrive at your destination, to find your careful packing was a waste of time as a TSA inspector has unwrapped your valuable cameras from their bubble wrap and padded bags and just tossed them back in the case, then piled all the now loose accessories on top of the cameras in a big heap. It just pisses me off.

No major damage on this occasion, just some scratches and dings to the camera body, but there should be some accountability. I recently had a flight case inspected by German security officials in Berlin. Inside the case was a detailed letter explaining what was done during the search. It told me that items had been removed and then replaced, it was signed by the inspector with his ID number and then countersigned by his manager. Everything was correctly packed and I have no issue with that inspection. But the TSA inspectors remain anonymous, so who do you complain about? It should be mandatory that each inspector should have to leave a card with his/her ID on it so that those that can’t be bothered to replace items as they found them can be held accountable for any resulting damage. I don’t have an issue with my luggage being searched, provided reasonable care is taken in the process. I try to pack the kit so that it’s easy to open and see what it is, I even give instructions on how to open and re-pack some items so they are not damaged. My luggage is often TSA inspected. Sometimes you’d never know except for the little white anonymous notification card, but this time my case looked like it had been gone though by a starving gorilla looking for a banana.

End Rant.

6 thoughts on “TSA – What can you do?”

  1. Just looked on Wikipedia and found this.

    TSA agents sometimes fail to replace locks or close them properly. Passengers who find their TSA-approved locks missing can file a claim with form SF-95.

  2. I always took notice of a TSA agent from the airport I fly out of frequently, the agent was always friendly and professional. One day this agent was not on duty when I was passing into security. I thought, day off, rotation? I then took noticed of the agent, the former TSA agent was now working behind a popular fast food counter inside the airport.

  3. At least nothing was stolen. Been there, done that. Not a fun experience.

    Btw, I will NEVER travel with anything expensive because the TSA and airline are only responsible for around $2,000 or less per person. Here in the US, it has become fairly common for people to ship via FedEx or UPS, especially now that so many airlines are charging for bags.

  4. I don’t think FerdEx or UPS is any better as they just toss around cases as well. First and foremost, you simply HAVE to have insurance, period. Second, pack the fragile things such as lenses, viewfinders, etc. into a carry-on. My camera is a large ENG-type and it will not fit into any overhead, but I can take the more “precious” items in a small bag. I use a hard case specifically designed for the camera, and I don’t really worry too much about the camera, except for it being mis-directed or stolen. Actually, I worry more about condensation penetrating the case more than anything else. But flying to a location with 6 or 7 cases of gear is no easy matter, and dealing with TSA and Customs along the way is just part of it. You have to take photos of every case and make a list of the contents of each case, including serial numbers. And traveling to other countries, you have to also provide an estimate of the value of each piece. (This was a nightmare for me on regular filming trips to Trinidad last year).
    So your best defense is a good offense….get insurance.

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