Saturday, December 10, 2011

Reasons not to check your luggage with American Airlines

Testimony at Mr. Bourne’s trial in Federal District Court in Brooklyn during September and October revealed a culture of corruption among some baggage handlers at [John F. Kennedy airport]. They stowed drugs in secret panels inside planes; stole laptops, lobsters and fine clothing flown as freight; and rifled through passengers’ belongings for perfume, liquor and electronics. ...

In 2009, the last year for which there is complete data, the Transportation Security Administration received about 6,750 reports of property missing from checked baggage. Passengers reported the total value of their losses as nearly $5.3 million. ...

From 2002 to 2010, American Airlines generated more such reports than any other airline. ...

“What percent of American Airlines employees would you say engaged in this conduct?” a federal prosecutor, Patricia E. Notopoulos, asked Matthew James, a defendant in the case who pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution.

“About 80 percent,” Mr. James answered. ...

“I was bragging around the job that I was doing it, and I was trying to get my other friends involved so they could make extra money,” Mr. Asencio said. ...

Even the defense lawyer, Mr. Savitt, said that he believed part of the witnesses’ testimony. “It became very obvious that everyone in American Airlines’ baggage services is dirty,” Mr. Savitt said.