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Checking Luggage At MIA. Why Is It Different?  
User currently offlineLuisde8cd From Pitcairn Islands, joined Aug 2004, 2575 posts, RR: 31
Posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 3801 times:

Hey all,

I traveled to the US and Canada during August and September and used MIA as my entry/exit point of my North American trip. It was my first time in MIA since 1996. What really surprised me was the fact that when I checked my luggage at MIA for my return flight with Santa Barbara to CCS, the checkin lady returned the luggage to me after it was weighted and tagged. She said that I had to take it myself behind Avianca's counters near the F concourse gates entry, where a huge TSA x-ray machine was.

After taking all my bags to the x-ray machine, one of the TSA employees working on the machine asked me and other pax to wait right there until our bags were screened. Only after the bags were screened, we were allowed to head to our gate.

I found this extremely pointless and time-wasting. I was also pissed at the fact of having to carry 8 pieces of luggage including carry-ons(I was traveling with my mom and little bro) all the way from the counter to the x-ray machine, instead of just dropping it off at the counter like I had done my entire life in many many different airports.

So my questions are...

-Does this only happen in MIA?
-Why does this happen?
-Does it apply to all airlines, or was it only for Santa Barbara-Aeropostal and Avianca pax?


Saludos desde Caracas,
Luis

22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3757 times:
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HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting Luisde8cd (Thread starter):
Does this only happen in MIA?

It happens at SA check-in at JFK T3 as well. However, you are not required to wait until they have completed the scan of your luggage. Most likely TSA in MIA ask pax to wait until the scan has been completed, should there be any locked baggage, etc. Just my  twocents 

Quoting Luisde8cd (Thread starter):
Why does this happen?

I am quite clueless why TSA scans luggage on the departure level after you have checked in. In South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, London, etc. you check your luggage in, whereafter it is conveyed to the baggage area and the luggage is scanned in a facility outside of the public eye and then loaded onto the planes. Somehow the TSA screening on the departure level seems like a total waste of space.


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineBAViscount From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 2338 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3749 times:

Happened to us at RDU back in 2003. After checking in for our AA flight to LGW we had to take our MANY bags (travelling with my Mum and sister - they'd done a LOT of Christmas shopping!) over to another part of the check-in area to be screened. We didn't have to wait though, although when I got home I did have one of those search notification memos in one of my bags.

The only good thing was that we'd managed to get one of those huge baggage trollies at kerbside, so we didn't have to drag our bags all over the terminal!



Ladies & gentlemen this is Captain Tobias Wilcock welcoming you aboard Coconut Airways flight 372 to Bridgetown Barb
User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 26
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3747 times:

I had exactly the same experience in MIA as you, when traveling on AV to BOG. But it's about everywhere the same or at least similar procedure since TSA is in force.

The only way to deal with is to keep smiling and think your stuff. There is no way to get a more expedicious treat. There is not even a first or business class scan, so PAX traveling at superior fares do need to queue with all the others, during the time they could use their vouchers to the lounges.

I see the problem in the way how this TSA stuff was set up. The US realized that they needed immediately to scan the bags, as they didn't before 9/11 at all. Then once again and as usual, they did not look how the other countries who scanned those bags for years did it. I am quite sure, Venezuela scans them since ever, as Switzerland or the rest of most countries  Wink

So the absolute top experience was then right after 9/11. They realized the need of doing it but did not have the equipment. So they brought quite a number of tables into the airports. There you had the pleasure to leave your bag to a "friendly" agent, step back and see how this person messed up everything you packed carefully at home. Guess what.... Sure, there was no way to bring that stuff in order again, as you were no more allowed to touch the bag.
Regarding this procedure, they are already a big step ahead of what they started up with. So there is still some hope that one day, they do it as we all do it, what results in a safe, smooth and customerfriendly procedure.

When you travel again to the US, just take all your personal stuff you don't want somebody to grap in, in your carry one. Carry all valuables with you and don't lock your bag. If done so, they may force it open. Put a smile on and amuse yourself by the thinking that they may grap now into your dirty underwear Big grin

And then I normally go for one of this huge Cheesecakes and stop thinking about TSA and all that  Wink


User currently offlineSA7700 From South Africa, joined Dec 2003, 3431 posts, RR: 26
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3724 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting Legacy135 (Reply 3):
I see the problem in the way how this TSA stuff was set up. The US realized that they needed immediately to scan the bags, as they didn't before 9/11 at all. Then once again and as usual, they did not look how the other countries who scanned those bags for years did it. I am quite sure, Venezuela scans them since ever, as Switzerland or the rest of most countries

Is this actually true? Did US airports not scan checked baggage before 911?  eyepopping 


Rgds

SA7700



When you are doing stuff that nobody has done before, there is no manual – Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs)
User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3717 times:

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 4):
Is this actually true? Did US airports not scan checked baggage before 911?

Well I've never seen anything looking as a scanner before. Traveling in the US used to be the most easy and convenient way to fly.We always locked our bags before, crewbags have even been sealed by ourselves, so no need to open them. They also allowed families, friends etc. to go to the Gates before. I think they didn't assume the potential of a terrorist act really before, as most of those things happened in Europe, Middle East etc. before.
Maybe they scanned suspect items only before, I don't know. But I am sure, if we wait a little while until it gets morning in the US and our American colleagues are back online, we shall get more infos on that  Wink

Cheers
Legacy135


User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 3706 times:

Quoting SA7700 (Reply 4):
Is this actually true? Did US airports not scan checked baggage before 911?

Not fully. Somebody please correct me, but I believe 100% international baggage was scanned, but nowhere near 100% domestic baggage was scanned.

Some airports, like my local BRS, occasionally ask that you take your bags to a central desk for scanning. This is because the regular check-in desks can't handle large or irregular shaped items. It's not common though.

Geoff M.


User currently offlineCV990 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3685 times:

Hi!

I have an experience Pre 9/11 at CLT! We were on our way from CLT to STL with USAir and when we were checking in our luggage at USAir counter the person there said that our lugagge need to be screened! I don't know if it was because we were portuguese but it was ok! And the guys did great..... one of our luggage was so packed, so packed that in the end the gentlemen asked us politely to open it so he could feel with his fingers some stuff! But in the end everything went ok! After 9/11 when I was flying with America West from FAT ( all way to YYZ via PHX ) I had a locker in my luggage and the lady in the counter asked me to keep the bag unlocked so they could check it out but she guaranteed me that after she would lock herself, and she did!!! On the way back at YYZ, I had again my luggage locked and the canadian authorities didn't say anything so everything went ok! When I arrived to FAT I had my locker broken with a nice orange paper from TSA saying that for security reasons they had to check out my lugagge... that's why they broke it! In my case well, it was ok!!! But I can't imagine if someone have those pieces of luggage with a locking device..... do TSA will brake the luggage???
regards


User currently offlineHBIHLtoEZE From Switzerland, joined Aug 2004, 281 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3664 times:

Quoting Luisde8cd (Thread starter):
After taking all my bags to the x-ray machine, one of the TSA employees working on the machine asked me and other pax to wait right there until our bags were screened. Only after the bags were screened, we were allowed to head to our gate.

In my opinion the TSA (as discussed many times before) is indeed inefficient and a mere obstacle to the traveller. While it is good to know that all bags are screened now TSA's procedure and efficiency could certainly be improved and especially their behaviour towards travellers should be more friendly.

I travel several times a year to the US and I already thought bag screening and the TSA in general got a little better but then I was bitterly disappointed again, once at LAX (waiting over one bloody hour just in order to give my bag to the screeners) and also at MIA.

I experienced the same thing as Luis and it took ages. I told myself to calm down as I was already slightly angry as I was flying on AA on a paper ticket and had to wait forever to check in as there weren't that many agents working. Don't check in at MIA with AA without an electronic ticket!

In order to soothe my anger I tried to figure out why they actually made all the fuss about checking the bags. From observing the TSA agents sluggish and more or less thorough way of searching the bags (and taking samples on pieces of cloth that they put in a detector) it occurred to me that they could actually be looking for something else than just terrorist devices. Could it be they are also looking for smuggling goods?

As Legacy135 pointed out the only way to sustain the whole thing is to bear and grin...and hope they track down some used diapers...

Cheers



Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 26
Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3652 times:

Quoting CV990 (Reply 7):
do TSA will brake the luggage

I think there is nothing you can do against. Complaining with TSA is not even worth the time and most probably the airline will reimburse if something needs to be fixed. Anyhow, whenever I traveled lately, I could see more than once that they have the legal base to force it open if locked. That's why I carry all my valuables with me and have now a much larger bag in the cabin when going to the States than on other flights. I normally use the lock as an additional device to assure that the bag won't pop open if falling down or so. As it can't be locked anymore, I am now putting a belt around to ensure, it keeps closed.
Don't worry, I don't think they screened your bags because you are Portuguese. As far as I could realize, such checks are on a random base and if you are the lucky one today, then you get the special service. There are TSA searches, they basically check you down to your socks and underwear. I got that ones, but the inspector doing it was very polite and apologized for. If all would behave like this, I wouldn't complain at all.


User currently offlineXpat From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 634 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3647 times:

I've had this happen at IAD on UA as well. They check you in, weigh your luggage and then you have to take it to a central screening area. My big frustration with not locking your bags, is people helping themselves to what's in there. Yes, yes, I know there are TSA approved locks out there, etc. I've had one of those; however, when I got to my destination, the lock was no longer on my luggage, it had been replaced with a friendly TSA note saying they had rifled through my luggage. Had anything been removed from my luggage at my destination or anywhere else, who would be (financially) responsible for my loss? And how would I go about proving that things were missing?


The only thing we have to fear is the sky falling on our heads. -Asterix
User currently offlineTWA902fly From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 3129 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3648 times:

I've seen a couple places do it this way. At O'Hare in Terminal 2 and 3, but not in 1 for some reason. Also i know in Terminal 5 some airlines chose to screen their luggage, others didnt. I remember Aeroflot would always scan your luggage before you even went to check in, as well as El Al. Also this procedure is used in YYC Calgary (at least for USA-bound) flights, x-ray before you proceed to the gate.

'902



life wasn't worth the balance, or the crumpled paper it was written on
User currently offlineTPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3627 times:

Think it depends on the airport. PVD has , or had ,a similar system. You check in, take your bags to the scanner, then the TSA delivers them to the airline desk.
TPA had the scanners on the check-in level, but has since moved them.
I believe that the scanners were rushed into place in pax areas after 9-11, and are now being repositioned further down the luggage-handling system.
That's why some posters may feel their luggage isn't being screened..it is..but out of your sight. I think all luggage is scanned......cargo is the big hole in the system.
TPAnx



I read the news today..oh boy
User currently offlineTACAA320 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3605 times:

Luis.

I travel to Florida about each two or three months. My last returning flight from MIA was on Sept. 6th.. I used Martinair and since such security meassure was impossed, my luggage wasn't scanned at the counter for the first time.

Was very confortable for me such day. But I'm 100% sure that this will not happen in the next one in about three weeks, since I'll be flying AA.


User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3568 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3571 times:

This has happened to me @ LGA twice when flying LGA-YYZ. When flying LY you also need to take your baggage for seperate screening/security tagging after you have checked in.


Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
User currently offlineDfwagt From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 83 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3544 times:

Quoting Geoffm (Reply 6):
Not fully. Somebody please correct me, but I believe 100% international baggage was scanned, but nowhere near 100% domestic baggage was scanned.

You are correct. 100% of Intl baggage was screened. The only domestic baggage that was screened were bags of profile pax. We also use positive bags match for Intl flights, which is good in case the TSA is asleep at the wheel again.

The reason why the screening is done upstairs is because when the TSA mandated that all checked bags were to be screened, there was not enough time to readjust the baggage systems at most airports to accommodate the x-ray machines. So at most airports pax will check in bags with check-in agents and then take their bags to the TSA to be screened. Most of the time the x-ray machine is in close proximity to the check-in counter.


User currently offlineLTBEWR From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13170 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3539 times:

After 9/11, more strict standards were put in as to all checked luggage on all USA flights, domestic and international. This included better x-ray machines, and huge 'sniffer' type machines to detect any explosive materials. If they didn't have those machines, then hand and eyeball checks have to be done. Many airports didn't have the room in their facilities to install this new equipment or to do hand checks after the check in areas, there is also financial pressures as to same, so they had to put them in the check in areas. This means you have to move the luggage instead of the airline services. In some cases of those with lots of non-wheeled luggage or those in First/Biz classes, the airline may provide carts or assistance.

User currently offlineLegacy135 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1052 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3527 times:

Quoting Dfwagt (Reply 15):
We also use positive bags match for Intl flights

Sorry, this I didn't get, would you explain me? Thanks  Wink


User currently offlineVenezuela747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1429 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3484 times:

Here in COS it is a little bit different but all chcked luggage gets scanned...

After you they tag your bags you ahve to take your bags to a scanning post (there is one abot 5 feet from each counter so no walking) and a TSA agent will open up you bags and hand search it then THEY will rearrange the stuff and close and return it to the check in agent where he will put it on the belt

I kinda hate it because you always arrange the luggage your way and the TSA agent will pull stuff out and reaarange it as they please, and then they get extremely pissed when you tell them how you want it and if you offer to help out they'll look at you as a terrorist and tell you you cannot touch the bag



ROLL TIDE!!!
User currently offlineJAXFLL From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3473 times:

Quoting Dfwagt (Reply 15):
You are correct. 100% of Intl baggage was screened. The only domestic baggage that was screened were bags of profile pax. We also use positive bags match for Intl flights, which is good in case the TSA is asleep at the wheel again.

If I remeber correctly positive bag match has been in effect since PA 103. International bags have been screened like that for years on international flights.

Quoting Legacy135 (Reply 17):
Quoting Dfwagt (Reply 15):
We also use positive bags match for Intl flights

Sorry, this I didn't get, would you explain me? Thanks

Positive bag match means that if a passenger is not on the aircraft, his bags must be pulled from the flight before the flight can leave. This also went into effect on international flights after PA 103.


User currently offlineDAirbus From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 593 posts, RR: 2
Reply 20, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3475 times:
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Quoting Legacy135 (Reply 17):
Quoting Dfwagt (Reply 15):
We also use positive bags match for Intl flights

Sorry, this I didn't get, would you explain me? Thanks

This means the checked bag must be matched to the passenger traveling on the flight. The bag cannot be loaded until the person has a confirmed seat assignment or BCN (boarding control number). If the passenger does not show or decides not to travel and the bag is already loaded, it must be removed before the aircraft can be allowed to depart.



"I love mankind. It's people I can't stand." - Charles Shultz
User currently offlineLuisde8cd From Pitcairn Islands, joined Aug 2004, 2575 posts, RR: 31
Reply 21, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3451 times:

Thanks for the replies, now I have a cleared picture.

By the way, my luggage had TSA-Approved locks.... why couldnt I just walk away to my gate instead of waiting for my luggage to get screened ? arent they supposed to have a special key to open those locks? Looks like they dont:

Quoting Xpat (Reply 10):
I've had one of those; however, when I got to my destination, the lock was no longer on my luggage, it had been replaced with a friendly TSA note saying they had rifled through my luggage.

So did Xpat, me and thousands of travallers have wasted our money buying those TSA approved locks?

Quoting CV990 (Reply 7):
But I can't imagine if someone have those pieces of luggage with a locking device..... do TSA will brake the luggage???

My dad had a hard case Samsonite suitcase with a locking device as part of the suitcase. The TSA at IAH, broke the suitcase and wraped masking tape with TSA logos all around it. We lost around USD 200. My dad couldnt recognize the suitcase at the baggage carrousel at CCS when he arrived.

Quoting DAirbus (Reply 20):
This means the checked bag must be matched to the passenger traveling on the flight. The bag cannot be loaded until the person has a confirmed seat assignment or BCN (boarding control number). If the passenger does not show or decides not to travel and the bag is already loaded, it must be removed before the aircraft can be allowed to depart.

I missed my WN flight BUF-BWI last month because the TSA screening queue line was extremely long and I checked in 30min before my flight. Since my fare was refundable I asked them to return my money and checked luggage to take another flight on Jetblue, to my surprise the gate agent told me that my bags had made it to BWI! Why was this allowed? My bags flew without me to BWI... Was this a security flaw?

Saludos desde Caracas,
Luis


User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3437 times:

It happened to me when i flew NW from SEA to DTW...the guy had me take it over to the screening machine across the way but i did not have to wait.


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