It was really dumb of me to put a camera into a piece of checked luggage, but I did, and now an airport baggage handler somewhere is one camera richer. It’s my fault, of course. My only excuse is that I almost never check bags, so when I packed this one I was thinking carry-on, not checked.

In searching around for similar cases, I found this tale of a guy who found his stolen camera on eBay, tracked down the thief, and got him arrested.

In the comments, mixed in with the debate about whether or not Delta should have granted the refund he requested (they didn’t), there’s this amazing bit of advice lifted from a comment on another blog:

One note on using TSA rules to your advantage.

Weapons that travel MUST be in a hard case, must be declared upon check-in, and MUST BE LOCKED by a TSA official.

A “weapons” is defined as a rifle, shotgun, pistol, airgun, and STARTER PISTOL. Yes, starter pistols – those little guns that fire blanks at track and swim meets – are considered weapons…and do NOT have to be registered in any state in the United States.

I have a starter pistol for all my cases. All I have to do upon check-in is tell the airline ticket agent that I have a weapon to declare…I’m given a little card to sign, the card is put in the case, the case is given to a TSA official who takes my key and locks the case, and gives my key back to me.

That’s the procedure. The case is extra-tracked…TSA does not want to lose a weapons case. This reduces the chance of the case being lost to virtually zero.

It’s a great way to travel with camera gear…I’ve been doing this since Dec 2001 and have had no problems whatsoever.

What a brilliant hack!