With summer vacations right around the corner and surveys showing that two out of three travelers are likely to bring their jewelry on vacation, we have fresh information and expert advice on the best way to take your precious possessions through airport security.
In most cases, it’s perfectly OK to wear your fine jewelry through the checkpoint station instead of removing it, according to Bob Burns, the official blogger for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
In a Tuesday blog post, Burns advised that as long as the jewelry is not really bulky, travelers should keep their precious possessions on their bodies as they walk through metal detectors or high-tech imaging devices.
“Chances are it won’t alarm, and if it does you can let our officer inspect it with you there,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t take long to inspect, unless you are blinged out like Mr. T.”
Burns said that in some cases, the security officer would ask the traveler to take off the jewelry. In that scenario, the traveler should avoid putting her valuables in the plastic bowls that typically hold smaller items such as pocket change and money clips. Instead, the fine jewelry should be placed in a carry-on bag.
“Bowls have been known to tip over on conveyor belts, seemingly sending small jewelry into another dimension where it is never seen again,” Burns quipped.
Under no circumstances should travelers pack their fine jewelry in checked luggage. Here’s real-life example of how doing so can turn out very, very badly…
Back in 2006, the Duchess of Argyll was flying back to Glasgow, Scotland, after a short stay in London. The 68-year-old dowager duchess had checked a bag containing more than $150,000 worth of jewelry, including a Victorian diamond tiara, Cartier brooch, emerald ring and pearl earrings.
Yes, the bag was lost.
The Duchess filed a complaint with the airport and police authorities, but the bag was never turned in… or at least that’s what the Duchess believed.
Apparently, the bag did resurface, but the airport auctioned the jewelry instead of making any effort to return the items to their rightful owner. The jewelry had been unloaded to a British diamond merchant for a mere $7,500 (exactly 5% of their value) and the proceeds were donated to charity.
In 2012, the Duchess spotted her Cartier brooch in a Scottish auction catalog and promptly hired a lawyer to investigate. Airport authorities were embarrassed by a lost-luggage saga with high-profile implications.
After offering to reimburse the diamond merchant for his cooperation, operators of Glasgow Airport successfully reunited the Duchess with her brooch and tiara. The emerald ring and pearl earrings are still missing.
A tough lesson learned.
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