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Services mail banned airline items home

By June 14, 2006

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Recently, I remembered the hard way that lighters are a carry-on no-no when a Denver TSA cop pulled my bag off the conveyor belt at airport security to be searched, causing me to mentally review my bag's contents and search my conscience. No sign of trouble in either, but he did locate my treasured Swiss Army lighter/compass combo -- I'd left it in a side pocket in my curbside rush. I bought the thing for a substantial sum in Lichtenstein and I love it; I felt like busting out crying when I saw it in the guy's hand and knew it was curtains for me and the compass.

One of his coworkers kindly told me I could send it home for $14. Knowing I didn't have the time to deal with the very slow line at the Denver airport post office with which I've had encounters before, I repacked my favorite carry-on sans favorite compass/lighter, raced to my plane and brooded the rest of the way to Baltimore, berating myself -- an experienced air traveler -- for having lost my treasured traveling pocket pal so cavalierly. I know good and well lighters are banned from carry-ons -- and I know fines and hassle can result from trying to bring a banned item aboard.

Well, today I saw a blog note by About's Air Travel Guide regarding private mailing services which send almost-confiscated stuff home from airport security stations, with lighters being the most commonly mailed items at (you guessed it) $14 per. Recalling the directional jerk of my TSA guy's cohort's head, I now know she was referring me to one of these stations located very near the security screening area. Apparently, they'll pack anything you're about to lose to the TSA maw and ship it starting at $9, with discounts for multiple items.

I'll be looking into how to get my compass/lighter back -- I'll let you know what I come up with. It will be interesting to see how much more than $14 I'll probably end up spending if and when I'm reunited with my compass. Traveling to a TSA auction? I can see it.

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