My Camera Disappears After Airline Forces Me To Gate Check Carry-On

You know the feeling where you look at your boarding pass and it’s like, Zone 83 and there are a ton of people in front of you chomping at the bit to get their rolling suitcases into the overhead bins? Photographer Shaun S. was recently forced to gate check his carry-on, and suffered a big loss in the process.

He was flying U.S. Airways, and had his camera in his carry-on, as that’s not something one might want to check, in case it gets lost or damaged. But as the bins filled up, by the time he was boarding, he was told he’d have to quickly check his bag.

He shared his unfortunate experience with Consumerist, writing:

On my way back to New York LaGuardia from Palm Springs, I was forced to check in my bag in Phoenix just before I boarded the plane. The lady slapped a tag on my bag, asked where it was going, and then tossed it down the slide in an instant. I was never even given any time to consider removing contents out of my bag, as this was meant to be a carry-on bag and I had my camera in there.

When I arrived in New York, I learned that my baggage was sent on a different flight to LaGuardia and wouldn’t arrive until hours later. By the time I received my bag at home it was 12 hours after I landed. I opened my bag to find my camera bag stolen.

There are many factors that resulted in this theft.

1) Zone Boarding. If US Airways is going insist on charging for for checked bags, that means they need to realize that EVERYONE is going to bring a carry-on bag instead to avoid these costs. And since everyone is bringing a carry-on (and it is encouraged, since clearly checking your bags prior is discouraging to customers who do not want to pay $25), US Airways needs to be able to ensure that every bag gets on that plane. These are carry-on bags. People keep important items in these bags because they expect these bags to be with them every step of the way.

2) Gate Checking. There needs to be better organization with gate checking. The lady that checked my bag had a faded computer print out of flights and a pen. That in no way inspires confidence in the traveler that their bag, which they didn’t want to check in the first place. In my case, due to her neglect, she put my bag on the wrong flight to LaGuardia. It arrived in LaGuardia at 1:15 and went to the office at 3pm, but didn’t come to me until 10:30 at night. This is also unacceptable. Unacceptable. Also, since we are being forced to check our bags against our will, they should automatically cover us with the baggage insurance, since we are not even getting the opportunity to make that decision for ourselves.

I am in the process of seeking reimbursement for my stolen items from US Airways. As a photographer/filmmaker, I am not able to work without this equipment and their neglect is causing harm to my livelihood.

As Consumerist recently reported, there are legislators working to change airlines’ practice of charging for a checked bag. If you didn’t have to pay to bring a bag, maybe the overhead bins wouldn’t turn into a battleground for carry-ons.