"Um, Shouldn't You Have Asked Me These Questions Before I Got on the Plane?"

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by Fredd, Sep 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Fredd
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    Fredd Gold Member

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    UM, IMHO he shouldn't have been asked them at all. I just ran across this on one of my favorite travel blogs.

    http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2011/09/filght_home.php#more
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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  3. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    If you're deplaning, I don't see why you can't just refuse and walk by. It's not like they can refuse to let you on your flight. It's just like Fry's Electronics, where they always want to see my receipt as I leave and I refuse. I paid for it, and we both know it. If they want to call the cops and claim I'm a shoplifter, they can do that, but I've never seen them try.
     
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  4. IMGone
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    I would've said no and keep walking. I certainly am not handing over my id without an explanation. DFW is far enough from the border that cbp has no play for local folks, aren't they?
     
  5. Fredd
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    Fredd Gold Member

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    That's interesting. I always offer up my receipt when leaving Costco. It's private property, it's a private business, and I'm aware it's a condition of doing business with them. Still, I understand your point. Even though IMHO that's debatable (which is what I'm mildly doing ;) ), I think those are always concerns worth raising, as with being demanded to show photo IDs with credit cards, or being asked for social security numbers as de facto national ID numbers.

    I think this fellow being questioned in a public area (yes, I know the airport may be "private") after deplaning from a domestic flight is in a different category and that it's just plain wrong, along with being stupid. What's the difference between that and a police officer following the same script on a public street? Unconstitutional and an outrage IMO!

    It's interesting that the overwhelming majority of the comments below the piece are in opposition to the stop and the questioning. Furthermore, quite a few of the commenters criticize the reporter for putting up with it.

    That at least is encouraging.
     
  6. Wandering Aramean
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    I believe that international airports are considered "border zones" even where they aren't adjacent to a normal border but I'm not positive.
     
  7. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    At Fry's Electronics, it's illegal (or at least debatably so) for them to force you to show a receipt at the door (4th amendment, privacy, etc).

    At Costco, showing your receipt at the door is written in the membership agreement and since you have to be a member to shop there, you have already agreed to do so - thus it is not illegal (or at least you have less of a legal standing if you want to challenge it).

    In either case it's usually easier to show your receipt than to cause a fuss. The same is probably true at the airport. It's easier to cooperate than try to cause a fuss over your perceived rights.

    I would hazard a guess that this sort of questioning would stand up in court, because it is "reasonable" to assume that you will encounter some kind of security screening at an airport. Thus there is not a "reasonable expectation of privacy" when at an airport and the 4th amendment doesn't apply (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expectation_of_privacy). Then again I'm not a lawyer, and you never know what will be ruling in court will be until it actually happens.

    I also want to point out that I don't necessarily think that this sort of questioning is right or the correct thing to do, only that I believe it appears to be legal under current law.
     
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  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Costco has a membership program, so I'm willing to let it slide. There are also lots of people who leave their carts unattended while going to get food. I would want someone checking to make sure the person leaving with a cart actually paid for the stuff in the cart.

    What bothers me about Fry's is their general lack of customer service despite their effort to create an appearance of customer service. Demanding that you show your receipt after you just left the register, in an area that Fry's keeps much more secure than at most stores, seems pointless and assumes guilt. If they really think I'm guilty, they should call the cops.

    Edit: I should point out that failing to show my receipt never caused a fuss. They never stop me, so clearly they don't really care. Thats the most galling part, that it was only ever a bluff. The officer at the airport may still detain you even if his right to do so could be contested in court.
     
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  9. upgrade

    upgrade Gold Member

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    They function as a virtual border for arriving international pax who have not yet been admitted to the United States (and can therefore be "denied entry" even though they are well within the territorial confines of the US). For pax on a domestic flight, not so much: it's not the border, and any attempt to randomly detain and/or search someone (as opposed to doing so based on individualized probable cause) in such circumstances would IMO be an excellent basis for a Bivens action.
     
  10. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    +1

    There are entirely more important battles worth your time than argue with a receipt checker at the door. Not to mention that he's doing what he's told -- so it's not like he has a choice in the matter -- and that any sort of fuss is just gonna be a waste of your time.

    I generally make sure I let them know that I'm not happy about it though... I'll throw in a quick remark about whether they found something or if they're happy I didn't steal anything just to make them feel bad.

    Not that it changes much though... most of the time they're so cursory about it that they wouldn't catch anything even if I did steal it. And as long as they're doing it to everybody I don't feel so bad.
     
  11. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I show them my receipt when there's no one ahead of me, ie I don't have to wait. If they are checking someone else already, I am not lining up behind that person and walk right out. Have never been hassled about it.

    I remember the one time I went to the CompUSA on Market Street in San Fancisco (long defunct, of course). When I departed the store, they not only wanted to see my receipt for the item I purchased, but also wanted to look through my backpack (that I had never opened or even taken from my back while in the store). I refused and they pointed me to a sign with rules that they said I should have seen upon entering the store advising customers among other things that bags are subject to search (I hadn't seen it). I told them that if they had reason to believe that I had stolen something, they should call the cops and I would patiently wait for them to come and deal with the situation, but I would not let a random CompUSA employee search through or even just touch my belongings. Eventually they backed down, I never spent another dollar at CompUSA and they went out of business (clearly because of losing my business :D )

    So.. About the story from Dallas... What exactly were these guys looking for *after* the flight? As a journalist, it would have been nice if the author of that post had investigated that angle more.
     
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  12. N965VJ
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    DFW is pretty far from the Constitution Free Zone.
     
  13. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    I like this part of the article - "You answered all my questions in a normal tone."

    Glad the blogger kept his sarcastic voice inside his head, or else....
     
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  14. MSPeconomist
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    I wonder whether the receipt checks in stores could be designed more to discourage/detect employee theft (not charging your friends or charging them less for expensive items) than to detect shoplifting.
     
  15. N965VJ
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    It seems to me that just about all cashier stations these days have cameras directly over them, so if any shrinkage is found during an audit, it would be easy to go back and look at the video. I never worked in retail so maybe I'm missing something.

    I was a member of the Wholesale Club before they were purchased by Walmart, and I seem to remember showing my receipt on the way out back then.
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    I am pretty sure that's true at my local Fry's.

    And to bring it back to travel, why can't they put cameras everywhere baggage handlers and TSA handle passenger bags, and then if something goes missing from a bag, determine the bag's path based on the bar code and pull the appropriate "tapes"? If stuff can be taken out of the bags, surely the same person could also shove stuff into the bag that would cause bad things to happen during the flight?
     
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  17. PhlyingRPh
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    PhlyingRPh Silver Member

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    I am in complete agreement with young Scottrick here. Ignore them whenever possible - whether it is a Fry's or Costco receipt jockey or a uniformed individual. I understand, as Fredd pointed out upthread that Costco requires the showing of an ID on entry and a receipt on exit, but still, it's bloody irritating when $100 a year still results in people that have known you for eleven years not trusting you enough to let you in without an ID or let you out without counting every item in your cart. Brushing by them a couple of times a year at least gives one a degree of satisfaction, no?

    In the case of a uniformed individual with powers of arrest, if one wants to ignore them, it's usually better to be doing something as you approach them, like fiddling with a cellphone or looking through the pockets of a handbag and not make eye contact, thus requiring them to physically chase after you if they want to talk to you that badly. This is an art I perfected at the age of ten when the dinner ladies and lower ranked teachers used to patrol the doorways into the main school building during lunch time. Little did I know that thirty something years later I would still doing the same thing but with uniformed American policemen, military personnel and people that thing they are policemen or military personnel (right, TSA?)
     
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  18. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Like pretending to be on the phone with, uh, your lawyer? :D
     
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  19. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I wish. Given that they still lose bags, my guess is they wouldn't know which camera to look at. Until we have RFIDs in every bag tag so that we can track bags minute by minute, I don't think this would work.
     
  20. Flyer1976
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    I've done that before and it helps to be Deaf as well, I told them they could not detain me for questioning with no full authority and that I had a connecting flight to catch...(Full Disclosure) this was at DCA with Customs & Border Protection... They eventually sent a LEO to my Gate to question me and asked why I refused to cooperate, I said they're Customs...I'm not flying anywhere international...now YOU Officer, have full authority so I'm fully cooperating with you.
     
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  21. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Shouldn't need RFID (though it would be easier). I was under the impression that the bar codes are read along the way as the bag goes through the bowels of the airport and is used to route it to the right destination. Or is that only done at "modern" airports such as LHR?

    http://www.airportfocusinternational.com/digital-issue/item/baggage-handling-2
     
  22. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    My first stop after deplaning is usually the airport rest room, since I try to minimize airplane lav usage. So I generally won't have a lot of patience and interest in chit-chat with customs officers. They are welcome to come with me to the rest room, hold my bags, and question me while I am using the urinal, though :D (or from the stall next door)
     
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  23. Flyer1976
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    Excellent idea, I'll do that the next time C&BP tries to do something silly...

    At DCA one time when I was on the US Shuttle headed to LGA I was in F. A plainclothes Secret Service agent flashed her badge and asked me to come with her for questioning in the jetway before boarding started...She asked me what was I doing in New York and why did I switch flights at the last minute...After answering her questions with courtesy she informed me that I was the only passenger in First Class with no one but the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and that it would be appreciated if I did not bother her since she was flying to LGA to see her husband in the Hospital...

    That flight rocked...Only 14 passengers onboard and 13 of them were Secret Service, State Department Personnel, and Hillary =D

    That was probably the only time I felt like I was actually treated as a human being at an airport with "security" :D
     
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  24. Scottrick
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    I just don't think it would be scanned during a TSA screen. It needs to be scanned to be routed properly and to have a record of being put on the plane, but those scans only come at decision points when the bag is being moved or when it's lost and needs to be put back in the right place. There's no reason I can think why they would scan it during a TSA check. If the rule is "check all the bags," that doesn't require scanning the barcode to know if it's heading to the right plane. They can just take them off the belt and put them back on.
     
  25. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Agreed, but it should really only take a few scan points to establish the timeline and path of the bag and pull the appropriate tapes. Sure, they may still watch an hour or so of a whole bunch of recordings.
     
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