I for one never carry anything valuable in my check-in luggage. In fact, the most expensive thing is likely to be my electric shaver, or maybe a bottle of rum if I happen to be returning from someplace tropical. However, people routinely place much more expensive items into their check-in baggage -- often fragile or subject to damage if mishandled.
Such was the case yesterday when a photographer (who happened to be carrying $100,000 worth of photographic equipment in his check-in baggage) looked out the window of his Southwest Airlines flight that had just arrived in Phoenix and saw a baggage handler throwing luggage 15 feet or more into a luggage cart. However, when the passenger -- filmmaker Loudin Krueg -- saw the Southwest employee throwing boxes marked "Live Tropical Fish," that really set him off.
He started filming the action with his mobile phone camera.
In an interview, Krueg told a local television news station, "When I saw him throwing a live animal around, I was like this is more serious than my camera. This is something that's supposed to be someone's pet, so that's what got to me."
If you watch the video, you can clearly see the baggage handler flipping boxes and other baggage end over end into the waiting luggage cart -- landing with a crash.
And while Loudin Krueg was concerned about the fate of the live tropical fish, he was also understandably concerned about how the $100,000 worth of photographic equipment he was bringing back from a shoot in Puerto Rico would fare if this particular baggage handler got his hands on it.
Says Krueg, "Luckily, we packed them in some pretty hefty stuff, but you get worried, when you have $100,000 of stuff sitting under a plane and this guy's throwing it 15 feet in the air."
The television station reached out to Southwest Airlines and was given the following statement:
"The video is deeply concerning. We expect our Employees to treat all Customers' luggage and cargo as they would their own. We will work with the Employee to retrain on policies and procedures to prevent this type of handling again.
We are reaching out to those Customers whose shipments were involved and so far have been assured their Cargo shipments were not damaged."
For his part, Krueg was happy to hear that the baggage handler will be offered retraining instead of being fired. I suspect the Southwest employee will be a lot more careful when it comes to handling baggage in the future.