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Entries during 2014-05

Abuse of Early Boarding Policy

Q. I fly on a weekly basis with Southwest Airlines. Out of all the big carriers (United, American and Delta), Southwest has figured out how to treat the business passenger well. My only concern with Southwest is their disabled pre-boarding policy. Every time I fly, I am astonished by the increasing number of people claiming to be disabled and taking advantage of the pre-boarding. Let me be the first to say that I completely support pre-boarding for anyone legitimately battling a physical and/or mental disability. What concerns me is that I have experienced on numerous occasions individuals, who claim eligibility for this policy, "spring out" of their wheel chairs and take off down the Jetway like Fred Astaire without any noticeable challenge. My concern is that people are now abusing a program that was set up for people who honestly need assistance. I am just appalled by this type of self-serving behavior. Also, last I checked, being over the age of 65 doesn't qualified as disabled and cheat your way in front of families with multiple children and business travelers who paid three times the fare that these scammers did.

A. It seems like everyone is trying to get first dibs at the overhead bins and choice seats these days. I’ve also seen people taking advantage of “passengers with young children” early boarding. There’s one child of an indeterminate age, then the parents, then the grandparents, and then the teenaged kids, all getting on board early on the coat tails of a not-so-young-looking “child.” I’ve also seen what you describe, but it’s only going to get worse as the population ages.

Above image via Shutterstock

TSA Theft and PreCheck

Q. My husband flew out of Seattle last week. While clearing TSA security, his laptop was stolen. We are still in shock that this could happen. This scam was slick and there's no doubt that TSA employees were involved, or at least complicit. We have now found another person who had the same thing happen to him at the Seattle airport last month. TSA is not being very cooperative. Lots of forms to fill out, but no answers. Is this type of theft common and how can we prevent my husband's new laptop from meeting a similar fate?
A. If you do a web search for "TSA theft" you get some interesting and shocking results. The ABC News 20/20 video you'll find by searching "TSA Officer Tracked at home missing iPad" is especially amusing, if that's the right word. Hundreds of TSA officers have been fired for theft. That said, it's entirely possible that another passenger took the laptop, either intentionally or by mistake. Of course, you should never put a laptop in checked luggage, but even carryon luggage is vulnerable. That's where TSA PreCheck can help. Most laptops are lost or stolen because the device is sent through the scanner long before the owner passes through the scanner to the "airside" of the terminal, so the laptop or iPad sits in its bin while the owner is stuck behind a line of people waiting to be scanned. With TSA PreCheck, you don't have to remove your device from your carryon. You can even lock your carryon, which I strongly suggest everyone should do. I would guess that PreCheck has already cut down on the theft of valuables at TSA checkpoints. If TSA PreCheck lines are not available, I always wait until I'm sure that I will be the next person through the metal detector and then and only then do I send my laptop or iPad through the scanner. More on TSA PreCheck here.

Above image via Shutterstock

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