Author Topic: "Watch my bags!"  (Read 7921 times)

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jmarvellous

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"Watch my bags!"
« on: July 22, 2014, 10:53:58 AM »
I was at the airport (far too early) on Sunday night, waiting at the almost empty terminal with my duffel bag and purse and reading a book. A woman came up with a suit bag and duffel, set them in the seat next to me, and stood over me.

"Watch my bags," she demanded, no "please" about it.
"Sorry, I don't feel comfortable doing that," I replied.
"I'm just going to get a water."
"Really? It's the cardinal rule of the airport. You don't watch other people's bags."
"Geez, I'll just be a minute."
"I'm not doing this to be mean. I am not comfortable watching a stranger's bags."
"WHAT-ever!"

She let out the loudest *huff* I've heard and stomped away toward a snack counter. She was back in less than 2 minutes and set her things right back next to me and sat down with the biggest plop a tiny woman can make, and sat, glaring at me.

I went for a moment's walk, then sat 3 rows away, where I witnessed Guy 1 trying to become friends with Guy 2, and quickly transitioning to asking Guy 2 to please "watch his stuff." After the first refusal, Guy 1 changed his mind:
"I'll take my bags with me; I just need you to watch this," he said as he pulled a flask from his jeans pocket.
"Sorry, no," said Guy 2.
Guy 1 stood and leaned over Guy 2 and pushed the flask into Guy 2's hand. "I'll just be a minute. I can't take this out with me when I go smoke."
"Still no. I will not hold this!"
"Fine," Guy 1 said, snatching back the precious flask. "I'll just get the airport lady to watch it!" He, too, huffed off.
(Side note: Airport lady!?! I have no idea what he meant.)

It seems like an obvious "Why would I want to do that?" situation, but I'm wondering what you would do! Is it a normal thing to ask?

esposita

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2014, 11:03:57 AM »
There was this one time when I was young and stupid - I was travelling by bus, on a layover waiting to depart in 20 minutes and I suddenly had to use the bathroom. Had to. And I had a huge duffel bag with me which I couldn't drag into the bathroom. And the line to the counter, where I could have asked an  employee what to do, was too long. So I found a trustworthy looking person reading a friendly looking book, and apologized and asked her to Please watch my bag for me while I went to the bathroom. It was entirely possible that I was prancing slightly when I asked, but she took pity on me and I'm very glad she did.

But I'll never do it again if I can help it.

And I wouldn't have done it to go take a smoke break or go buy a drink of water. If I were in your situation, I would have been put off to, and hopefully have done what you did.

nutraxfornerves

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2014, 11:25:48 AM »
Before 9/11, and the really serious admonitions about "don't carry things for strangers," it was common for people to use some tricks to send goods home to an undeveloped country for free.

More than once, while waiting to check in for flights to Africa at a European airport, I was approached by someone who noticed that I had only one bag. "Would I please take this other massive suitcase as part of my baggage allowance and turn it over to some cousin on arrival?" When I declined, the person would continue going down the line of passengers. I did some asking around and found that this often did work, especially with one's fellow countrymen who were more likely to be sympathetic. I was also told that some of  the most common shipments were small electronics and disposable diapers.

Another trick was to buy a fully refundable ticket, check-in bags, get a boarding pass. then "accidentally" fail to make the flight. That ended when airlines started matching checked baggage to missing passengers. I twice was on flight that sat on the tarmac while the cargo area of a wide body plane was searched for the bags of someone who did not board.

(At the time, arrival halls in many Africa airports, even international arrivals, were pretty chaotic, so it was easy for "cousin" to grab the bags without interference from pesky customs officials or to pay a "fee" to the officials.)

Nutrax
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Curly Wurly Doggie Breath

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 11:33:10 AM »
Yeh, just not a good idea at any time these days.

Good for you for saying no.

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lowspark

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 11:35:10 AM »
Quote
It's the cardinal rule of the airport. You don't watch other people's bags
Bingo.

Me? As soon as the person walked away from their bags, I'd have gone directly to the desk or to security or someone in authority and alerted them to abandoned bags.

This isn't something that I'd be cavalier about. At the airport, take your stuff with you. Walk away and risk having security getting involved. I would absolutely not ignore it.

How long has it been since they've been telling us to not let our bags our of our sight or watch anyone else's bags. Since way way way before 9/11. If someone still hasn't gotten the memo, they're either really out of it or they are up to something. Either way, it's a dangerous situation.

jmarvellous

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 11:35:30 AM »
FWIW, my husband said that if he'd been sitting next to me when I refused, he'd have said yes. He really, really has faith in the goodness of strangers, though!

(Also, this was my first post-9/11 plane trip where I didn't hear a PA announcement to never leave your bags unattended or agree to watch bags for strangers, and I was at the airport for 3+ hours.)

Outdoor Girl

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 11:44:21 AM »
I'm always really early for flights - I don't fly that often and I'm completely paranoid about missing my flight due to traffic or something.  So quite often, I find myself sitting in the boarding lounge with a group of like-minded strangers.  We'll be chatting for quite a while - which I generally draw because I'm usually knitting or crocheting.  The movement helps with my nervousness.  So we get to know a little bit about each other.  If I'm asked by one of these folks, after an hour of chatting, I'll usually comply.  They offer to do the same for me but I always check my bag to minimize the amount I have to carry on and off the plane so I don't take them up on it.

But someone who just sidles up to me and asks me to watch their bag(s)?  That would be a big, fat 'No'.
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Zizi-K

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2014, 11:45:27 AM »
If I was asked nicely by someone who had a lot of stuff and didn't want to drag it all into the bathroom, I would watch their bag in the waiting area. I don't see too much harm in that. But I would not do it if asked demanded! And if I had to board and the person was, for some reason, not back yet. I would make sure to inform the gate agents about the situation. Depending on the place, they could really lose all their stuff. I was once in Charles de Gaulle in the early 2000s and heard a loud explosion, yet no one seemed the least bit concerned. They were blowing up some luggage that had been left unattended.

Deetee

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2014, 11:54:39 AM »
I've watched people's bags and been happy to. I usually just nod and agree. If they weren't back in the ten minutes they said they would be then I might let someone know.

Especially if someone is elderly, mobility impaired or is travelling solo with some kids. If you just want to go to the washroom (or take a kid to the washroom) and you don't want to drag all your stuff into a tiny stall and drag it across the bathroom floor. And you can't pack light with kids.

shhh its me

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2014, 12:01:46 PM »
Before 9/11, and the really serious admonitions about "don't carry things for strangers," it was common for people to use some tricks to send goods home to an undeveloped country for free.

More than once, while waiting to check in for flights to Africa at a European airport, I was approached by someone who noticed that I had only one bag. "Would I please take this other massive suitcase as part of my baggage allowance and turn it over to some cousin on arrival?" When I declined, the person would continue going down the line of passengers. I did some asking around and found that this often did work, especially with one's fellow countrymen who were more likely to be sympathetic. I was also told that some of  the most common shipments were small electronics and disposable diapers.

Another trick was to buy a fully refundable ticket, check-in bags, get a boarding pass. then "accidentally" fail to make the flight. That ended when airlines started matching checked baggage to missing passengers. I twice was on flight that sat on the tarmac while the cargo area of a wide body plane was searched for the bags of someone who did not board.

(At the time, arrival halls in many Africa airports, even international arrivals, were pretty chaotic, so it was easy for "cousin" to grab the bags without interference from pesky customs officials or to pay a "fee" to the officials.)

or to smuggle drugs. 

I wouldn't touch , hold carry etc. someone bag , but  pre-Boston marathon I may agree to "yell if someone other then you tries to take it."  unattended bags are a security issue, as in suspected bombs.   

Twik

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2014, 05:18:40 PM »
Yes. It's unfortunate that one has to keep in mind that that friendly stranger might just be leaving the bags behind because there was something ticking in there.

Although airports don't seem to pay as much attention to them as you'd think. I once (eep!) forgot my newly issued computer beside the check-in counter in its little wheeled case. It was still there when I came tearing back for it 20 minutes later. Apparently none of the dozens of people checking in had mentioned it to anyone.
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lakey

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2014, 05:40:11 PM »
It IS a normal thing to do for people who think they are entitled to impose on others. And you are right, you are not supposed to let others have access to your bags.

Tea Drinker

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2014, 06:36:57 PM »
I will ask people to watch my bag for a few minutes while I go to the bathroom, or say yes when others ask. But the key thing is ask. Not demand, not get upset if someone says no.

A security expert I read years ago said that asking a random stranger "would you watch my bag for a few minutes" is safer than leaving it alone, because the great majority of people are not thieves (and some of the rest might not want to inconvenience themselves by abandoning their table or seat in order to steal your bag). If you leave a bag alone in a cafe (or other place where nobody is going to assume that an unwatched bag is a security risk, you are betting that all the people in the cafe are honest. If you ask someone to watch it, you are betting that that one person is honest. Better odds.

Past airport security, I wouldn't worry about bombs, because the chances are pretty slim that someone (a) could get a bomb through security and (b) would decide to set a detonator for a brief time period and then ask someone to watch the bag, rather than setting it for that same short period and just walking away. If I said no, it would be because I didn't want the responsibility/distraction from my book. (I apparently give off "competent and harmless" vibes to a great many people, so I get asked to watch bags, give directions, and so on.)
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sammycat

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2014, 07:36:55 PM »
Ignoring the safety aspect of it, and assuming the bags didn't contain anything nefarious, the fact that the woman demanded someone look after their stuff would have had me refusing point blank out of principle. No one will demand a favour of me and get it. If this was anywhere but an airport, asking nicely on the other hand, might've had me considering it.

Although airports don't seem to pay as much attention to them as you'd think. I once (eep!) forgot my newly issued computer beside the check-in counter in its little wheeled case. It was still there when I came tearing back for it 20 minutes later. Apparently none of the dozens of people checking in had mentioned it to anyone.

I once left a bag containing a new camera, a video recorder and some other expensive stuff in the immigration section of Auckland airport. An hour or so of heart stopping worry later (3 earlier weeks of holiday video were in the bag) we got it back from the lost and found area.


magiccat26

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Re: "Watch my bags!"
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2014, 01:15:55 PM »
Around three months post 9/11, DH and I were on a business trip.  The airport was filled with soldiers carrying large scary guns and the "do not leave your bag unattended" announcement was on constant repeat.  We were sitting in the lounge waiting for our plane chatting with a few other passengers when a young woman, probably in her early 20's, stopped, looked at all of us, placed her bag in a chair and then wandered off without a word.  We all stared at each other in confusion and waited.  After 45 minutes, she hadn't returned and was nowhere nearby.  So, I approached someone with security and told him the story.  He came and watched with us for 10 more minutes, then confiscated the bag and left.

Our flight was boarding around 20 minutes later when DH and I spotted the young lady at the ticket desk looking for her bag.  She honestly thought she could just drop a bag in the middle of a group of strangers for over an hour and it would just be sitting there when she felt like returning.

I heard the attendant lecturing her on leaving her bag unattended and telling her that she would not be allowed to board this flight.  She would have to go back thru security screening, wait while her bags were searched and rechecked, then she could book a new ticket at her own expense.

A very expensive lesson I think.
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