Tidbits for travelers: Swine flu, busted baggage handlers, & fresh art

So many people are canceling trips to Mexico because of worries over swine flu that United Airlines and Continental Airlines are significantly cutting out flights to that country. No doubt other airlines will also cut flights, so if you’ve postponed your Mexico trip, check back with the airline to see if you need to change plans again.

For more details about the cuts, see this article in the Chicago Tribune and this article in the Wall St. Journal.

aiga_baggage_check_in1And after you read some of the details about a Northwest Airlines luggage theft ring busted at Oregon’s Portland International Airport, you’ll probably want to figure out how take that next trip with just a carry-on bag.

And – just so this isn’t a post full of bad news – the Miami International Airport officially opened the new South Terminal Art Gallery with a new program called Hand Made, which will feature handcrafts from around the world.


The first exhibition is Siesta, a collection of hand-woven products featuring ceremonial hammocks and bags by the Wayuu people from the region of La Guajira in northern Colombia.


Band of Luggage Thieves nabbed at Bradly Int’l Airport

“Cameras. Laptop computers. Flat-screen televisions. Cellphones. Jewelry. Even 5-foot-tall African masks.”


(Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Police)

That’s the way a Hartford Courant writer starts off his article about the arrest of a “band of thieving baggage handlers” at Bradley International Airport.  Some of the 11 people arrested worked for Delta Air Lines, others worked for Delta Global Services, which handled ground crew duties for Delta flights.

In statements to police, some of those arrested said that the thefts had taken place at least since 2006. According to arrest warrant affidavits, the thieves would rifle passengers’ bags as they unloaded them from the cargo holds of Delta aircraft. They would shove cameras and laptops into their pants, then hide the items above the ceiling in their locker room.

So if you do travel through BDL, be sure to keep an eye on your belongings. But also make time to see the three patch-sized embroidered scenes created by Raymond Materson to honor the 1994 Special Olympics.

Materson was in prison when he made the patches and unraveled his socks to get the colored thread to use in his artwork. Once out of prison, Materson kept sewing. His work is now highly prized and displayed in museums and in art galleries. Here’s an example of his recent work: a portrait of Queen Victoria.


Maybe BDL’s Band of Luggage Thieves could learn a new skill.

One – not so good – way to lighten your load at the airport

As you set out for weekend adventures…here’s a reminder to keep an eye on all your stuff at the airport. And another reason why carry-on only is a good option.   From the Portland Business Journal:

Two Northwest Airlines baggage handlers have been charged with stealing more than 200 items from passenger luggage at Portland International Airport…

The arrests are the result of a two-week investigation by Port of Portland police, which recovered 200 stolen items ranging from laptop computers and jewelry to hand bags and clothing, the port said.

Travelers who believe items were stolen from their baggage at PDX are asked to call port police at 503-460-4747.