Subject: Re: Philadelphia airport questions

Debbie writes about driving to the Philadelphia airport for a trip to Paris. I will presume that she will be flying on USAirways, since that is their international hub. Since that is her final return destination, she will be okay, but if you are making a connecting flight when you return, be warned that your luggage may not make your flight.

I recently returned from Europe on Saturday, July 5. The flight wasn't crowded as not as many people were flying to the US as are going to Europe right now. I wonder what things will be like later this summer, though.

It seems that most of the USAirways international flights arrive within about 2 hours of each other, creating a logjam in the luggage area. This created a long line to get through customs, which only really looked at the customs declaration card and didn't check anyone's luggage that I could see. That was the good news. Then I went into a long line into the area where you are supposed to redeposit your luggage for your connecting flight. But all luggage must be rescreened through those big jaw type of machines. Seems on the day I was there, they were so overloaded and the backlog was so bad that the men working there took our luggage and set it aside. The room was a sea of suitcases, literally, and I couldn't see that any TSA personnel were even sending the luggage through the screeners. There were literally hundreds of suitcases stacked up in this huge room.

Once this was done, we had to go outside of the A terminal and reinter the B terminal, going through security once again. (Another long line.) An hour later my flight to Baltimore took off. Of course my luggage didn't arrive. This was at 6 p.m. I filed the necessary claim, but the agent said that the luggage would probably arrive on the 10:30 flight. There was a flight sooner than that, but it was a prop jet and apparently they don't put the extra luggage on that, but wait until the 737 comes in at 10:30. I asked if this happens frequently, and he replied, yes, almost every day and that he works until 4 a.m. in the morning taking care of all the delayed luggage. He said it was TSA's fault because they don't have enough screeners to handle the traffic (of course, since all those flights come in so close to each other).

My luggage arrived by 9 a.m. the next day. I felt very sorry for those international travelers who had connecting flights to as far away as Seattle whose luggage had to reach them somehow the next day.

I hope the problem has been fixed, but if you have a connecting flight, just pack your carry on knowing that there is a good chance your luggage won't make it.

Gene from Rockville, MD