TSA Gives MacBook Pro To Wrong Passenger

Apple / Security / Tech
MacBook Pro

A 15″ MacBook Pro is by no means a cheap computer, and when the TSA hands your $2800 MacBook Pro to the wrong person… that might make for a bad day. This is exactly what happened to Eric Cheng while going through a TSA checkpoint to board his flight at LAX. Cheng was in Delta terminal 5 lane number 3 minding his business going through the same TSA rigmarole everyone else has to deal with. Cheng says he’s accustomed to flying TSA precheck but this particular flight was booked by a conference and he had to go through the normal line.

Cheng says there was a woman in line fussing about the size of her bag, which he says clearly was too big to fit on the plane, and he forgot to remove his belt. After putting his belongings in the bins, along with his $2800 MacBook Pro, he stepped into the body scanner and was asked to step back. Since he forgot his belt he had to go back out and remove the belt, place it back through the X-Ray machine and step back into the body scanner. While all of that was happening his other belongings, including the MacBook Pro, had come out of the other end.

After going through the scanner, Cheng collected his belongings but didn’t realize his MacBook Pro wasn’t there. It wasn’t until he was at the terminal that he realized he was without his computer. Of course, as anyone would react, he was panicked and re-traced his steps and heading back to the TSA security check. Once he got there he informed them he did not get his MacBook Pro and was wondering if they had it set aside.

I arrived at the security area, flagged down a TSA agent, and told her that I must have left my computer there, but that I didn’t remember seeing it on the belt. She left to look around; I wanted for about 5 minutes and never saw her again. I flagged down a second agent, who started looking again. Someone brought over a computer in a bag, but it was a Windows machine in a black case—not mine. Mine was nowhere to be found.

We moved over to the camera footage station, and a nice agent began to review archived camera footage. After a few minutes, he found me coming through the security line, and sure enough, my computer was not with my bags when I retrieved my belongings. Moving further back in time, we watched as a TSA agent pulled my computer off of the belt as soon as it came out of the machine—there is an area where agents can remove things from the belt before passengers have access to belongings. He moved my computer to a holding area immediately behind the x-ray machine. And then, we watched as the computer was inspected, after which it was handed back… to a random woman. The woman took my computer and left the security area. Someone remembered that the woman had been with the other woman who had been making the scene, and that they had both been rushing to the 4:15pm flight, but I couldn’t remember whether this was the case or not.

The story is heartbreaking and there are lessons to be learned here and hopefully Cheng can recover or get reimbursed for his MacBook Pro. Head over to Eric Cheng’s blog for the entire story and let us know in the comments below what you think. Or hit us up on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

  Source: Eric Cheng
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