I made a full inventory of exactly what was in out suitcases before we left Raleigh / Durham airport a few days ago. I wrote down every single item I packed in all of our bags. Time consuming, yes. But has to be done. We have had too many items go missing from our bags mostly on flights as we return to the Sandbox from the States, in the past, for me not to do so. I blame the TSA for the theft. Why? We use those TSA approved locks on our bags, that only the TSA can open. The things that have somehow left our luggage include a half bottle of DH's cologne, Elizabeth Arden make-up [brand new, unopened - my fault for not using it first - to the tune of $150.00 of make up, not just one $20 mascara], a belt [DH's], a silk tank top, and various other items including shoelaces out of a pair of sneakers. However, this year, between Bahrain and RDU several knitting needles disappeared. Yes. From checked baggage, not carry on baggage. Why? Who knows why?!! Knitting needles. Circular knitting needles - not the long pointy ones. [I believe that this happened when the bags were rechecked in New York - where we have to take our bags off the luggage carousel and go through customs and then recheck our bags.] Whatever.
A couple of weeks after we arrived in the States, the local paper there published an article about bags disappearing - theft - from the luggage belt at RDU airport. A full bag disappearing has not been our problem, though. Theft from our bags has been the problem and in that article there is a quick blurb about TSA workers being accused of theft: "...cameras elsewhere at RDU have caught airline workers and Transportation Security Administration employees who pilfered from passengers' bags." I suspect theft from TSA workers happens a whole lot more than is ever reported. [Let me tell you from first-hand experience that even if you do report theft to the TSA and provide receipts for missing items - the Elizabeth Arden make-up, for example - you will get nothing except a hard time and a hassle from the TSA. And, who saves a receipt from a belt that is two-years old or a silk tank top that is even older?!? No receipt? No reimbursement. Even with a receipt? No reimbursement. Not even an apology. Instead a form letter that says something to the effect of "We are unable to find evidence that items were removed from your luggage," which, essentially accuses you of lying about the theft in the first place.]
Thankfully everything that was packed in our bags this year made it home. So this isn't about the theft from our bags. This is about the TSA workers. We flew out of RDU to JFK in New York before heading to Doha on Qatar. It was at JFK where I was absolutely blown away with the number of TSA workers who were milling about doing nothing. NOTHING! Oh, yeah. Our federal tax dollars hard at work. When I went outside the airport to have a cigarette, there were no less than a dozen TSA workers out there having a cigarette, too. Sure, they are allowed breaks during their eight-hour shifts and I don't begrudge them that. But to see so many of them just wandering around talking on their cell phones - or sitting in chairs texting - makes me wonder just what their purpose is. I will not deny that airport security is a necessity. 9/11 taught us that it is. But I do think that for much of the rigamarole that we are put through - take off your shoes, only two packages of matches or one lighter - no liquids or gels in containers over three ounces and packed in a single quart-sized zip-lock, etc., it is a joke. And it gives travelers a false sense of security.
What really really irked me though is the number of TSA workers who appeared to be doing nothing. Absolutely nothing! Outside of one restaurant [before you go through security] at JFK there were eleven [I counted] workers just sitting in random areas texting, talking on their phones and chatting with one another. If they were all on break [at the very same time the dozen of them were outside smoking] then there are too many TSA workers. And if they were all on break - make them sit in some designated area outside the view of taxpaying travelers so that people like me don't get the impression that our tax dollars are being wasted. They no doubt are, but that is beside the point. Granted, many of the jobs at TSA are likely low-paying, relatively no education needed type positions, but still... Being federal employees they are given benefits that make those jobs worthwhile [health insurance, vacation, etc.], but is there really a need to have a dozen TSA workers actually working while the other two dozen are all on break? I think not.
Just another example of an over-bloated federal government agency sucking the money out of tax-payers for which we get little in return. Put me in the category of non-believers that think that for the most part the security measures that have been implemented since 9/11 are absurdly ineffective. It is time-consuming and has made traveling nothing short of a nightmare of inconvenience. Screen everyone - put us all through the full-body scans - not just randomly. And if we must put out perfume, cologne, make-up, belts, clothing, and other items in our checked luggage [knitting needles!], then at least make it so that we are guaranteed to have the items we packed in our bags when we unpack. Oh, and don't let us see so many workers in TSA uniforms that are NOT working!