In an article on Apple Insider, a couple of Air Canada passengers followed their luggage after it was lost for several days.

To their surprise, the luggage took quite a detour, proving all the communications from Air Canada were either wilfully incorrect or ineptly incorrect. Either way, it shows how frail baggage systems can be. As one might imagine, those systems are not 100% robotised and computer-controlled. They rely on several steps operated entirely by humans.

And what can humans be, if not stupid? Corrupt. Just look hereand here.

I write about this personally, having had a similar incident while travelling with Air Canada. Flying out of the French West Indies to get to Toronto, we have to fly to Montreal, then hop over to Toronto. Arriving at Montreal, given that it is the entry point, we must collect the bag and then go through customs and immigration. Unfortunately, my bag wasn’t there, and I was told to go to Toronto anyway, as they’d find my bag and deliver it to me at my hotel. So off I went after filling in the requisite lost luggage forms.

To cut a long story short, I got my bag with, as far as I can tell, everything in it, but given that I flew in on Sunday night and my bag was delivered on Wednesday evening, I had to purchase some new clothes to tie me over, not knowing if or when the bag would arrive.

I have a theory about what happened, as the bag went to Paris before winding its way across the Atlantic several days later. Drugs.

I’m pretty convinced that there are baggage handlers or others in the chain of operations that select bags and then divert them to other airports for them to be recovered and sent to the actual destination days later, thus providing a decent cover for the transport of drugs and arms to and fro.

It’s pretty easy to open a suitcase or a bag, even with a lock, thanks to security legislation after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. Every lock has a back door —a TSA-compatible key. Finding one for each lock type is trivial. And it grants unimpeded access to every piece of luggage passing through the basement of an airport. A basement that offers plenty of opportunity to conduct this kind of illicit business.

Technology offers us a view into the depths when we use it for good. Who knows, It might make it harder for illicit activity to proliferate.

I, for one, am investigating picking up a couple of AirTags for when I next travel, checking in luggage. I try to fly light, ensuring I only have cabin luggage, but that is not always feasible.

20 January 2023 — French West Indies