Luggage warning from airport employee

March 30, 2009 9:03:26 PM PDT
The summer travel season is getting closer and with many of you planning to fly, how safe are the contents of your luggage? [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

If you ask one employee at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport the answer is not very.

The employee tells us she came forward because she is simply tired of watching fellow employees steal from luggage. And along with being tired of it she hopes the problem gets some attention.

Last week we reported a story about an HISD teacher who was dealing with the theft of souvenirs out of her luggage on her flight home from a European school trip.

Also watching that report was a veteran Continental employee. She says theft from luggage at the big airport is common. To protect her job, we have concealed her identity.

"It happens every day, it's very often that we may run across Continental guys going through their luggage," she said.

The Continental employee claims the beefed up security and check points that passengers deal with drops off for behind the scenes employees that handle luggage.

"They run everything tightly up at the top, but poorly at the bottom," she said

We contacted Continental Airlines about the claim. They told us the allegation doesn't warrant an interview and emailed this statement.

"Thefts from baggage are extremely rare. We have active security operations at airports including IAH. We assist law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting theft cases when they arise. Travelers should be conscious not to place valuables in their luggage and only hand-carry items such as jewelry, electronics and financial instruments."

The employee tells us thefts take place as luggage is unloaded from the plane. Security patrols are present but are just not enough to stop the pilfering.

"They can only be at one place at a time," she said.

The employee says broken locks on the ground with zippers still attached are a common sight. And stolen luggage items are often hidden in back packs and later pawned. She says random bag checks of employees leaving for the day are rare.

"If I was to fly a flight with Continental, those are the things that I will be thinking about," she said. "That will be a big concern to me."

We also asked representatives from continental how many thefts take place a year. The company says it does not release that information to the public.

Meantime Madeline Hartwell, the HISD teacher we mentioned earlier, says she is still waiting to be contacted after filing her claims more than a week ago with British Airways.

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