Podcast #66 – Travel in Asia; Losing Laptops in Airports

Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago after a couple of weeks in Thailand and Singapore.  In this episode, I talk about some of my experiences in Asia, including a few travel (mis)adventures. We also talk about losing laptops in airports — comments on a study claiming that 12,000 laptops are lost in airports every week, and thought on one particular lost laptop belonging to the Clear registered traveler program.  And a listener gives his in-flight impressions of Singapore Air’s new A380. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.


Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #66:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago, Illinois
  • Business and personal travel has taken me all over — Denver, Thailand, Singapore, Boston, New York, the Delaware Shore, and Philadelphia
  • United Airlines’ troubles and ORD weather make the flight back from Singapore even longer
  • Bridge Music — Planetenstaaten by Philipp Weigl
  • Following Up

  • A listener shares his recent experience flying to Tokyo in a Singapore Air Airbus A380
  • Lots of comments on the post about the study claiming that 12,000 laptops are lost in airports every week
  • Blogger Sean O’Neill’s follow-up research on this study supports my initial skepticism
  • Steve Frick wonders how someone doesn’t notice that their bag is suddenly 7 lbs lighter
  • The Clear registered traveler program loses, and then finds, a laptop with applicants’ personal data
  • Bridge Music — The Collider by C. Layne
  • Impressions of 1st Trip to Asia

  • My family’s first trip to Asia, so we did “Asia Lite” — Phuket, Thailand and Singapore
  • If Southwest has “cattle car” boarding, then Air Asia uses a stampede
  • Driving in Thailand would be difficult because I can’t read the Thai alphabet
  • Surprised to have a deep discussion of the US presidential race with a Thai cab driver
  • The experience of eating durian in Singapore is seared into my senses
  • Closing

  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from Magnatune
  • Feedback at comments@travelcommons.com or right here in the comments section below
  • Direct link to the show


Leave a comment


  1. Mark – I can’t beleive I had not shared my tale of woe. I’m a new entrant to the road warrior world, and I’ve been flying every week since May. In June, my laptop was stolen out of my gate checked bag. Yes, I know, I’m an idiot. But nonetheless, here is story.
    We were waiting out storms delays in RIC and ATL and the flight time kept changing. We were told to stay near the gate in the event that we could depart at any time. Suddenly, we get the call to come to the gate and forget seat assignments, just get on the plane (a CanadaAir Regional). I had just bought my new roller laptop bag and assumed it would fit in the overhead bins. As I boarded, one of the gate crew grabbed my bag from me, telling me it wouldn’t fit and gave me the bag tag. For one second I thought, “Shouldn’t I grab my laptop?” and then I folloishly reasoned that we were rushing and nothing could happen to it, especially since in Atlanta, I would be standing right by the plan to pick it up. Well, I got off the plane in Atlanta, and saw my bag get handed off the plane. I picked it up instantly knowing it was lighter and looked down to see it zipped open. It was late, it was raining, I knew my next leg was delayed or cancelled and I tried really hard not to cry while standing on that rainy tarmac. I yelled at the gate people that I wanted a supervisor immediately, but they ignored my request. I went inside and ATL was in complete pandemonium with the flight delays and cancellations (side thought – is it ever any other way?). I filed my paperwork, and cooled my heels a couple of days. Then I decided to play some hard ball so I called RIC. I told them that they had criminals working for them and tha I intended to call the police to file a police report when I got off my flight next week. A day later I got a call from Delta saying that they could not give me any details but that they were investigating my complaint and that I would be reimbursed for the laptop.
    For me, I am taking responsibility for knowing I did somethnig I really really should not have done, and I never expected compensation, but for everyone else who flies out of RIC I wanted to know that someone somewhere was going to check this complaint out. And, I bought locks that I lock after I pass through security. But I DON’T leave my laptop in my gate checked bag either. I still worry about what I do leave in there (clothing and costume jewelery for the the next day or 2) but I’m not sure how I could have resolved this any other way. It was frustrating to feel so out of control.
    So, this sophomore road warrior learned a tought lesson that day. Thanks for your shows Mark, they are really enjoyable and very helpful!

  2. Nice Dante’s inferno reference – you don’t get many of those on travel podcasts!

  3. It’s great to hear from you again, Mark. I’ve always wanted to go to Asia. I’m a big fan of international travel but with the great distance comes great challenges if something goes wrong with your scheduled flights. I’ve learned that when you get bad news of a flight that’s delayed by 17 hours, it’s best to keep a cool head and start politely asking the ticket agent questions about other flights. Very often I’ve found that agents can get tunnel vision with your final destination and not think of more creative ways to get you home, perhaps through alternate cities. Some gentle prodding goes a long way here and I’d rather take the long route rather than be stuck in an airport for hours. Plus, it’s an easy way to pick up some more miles.

  4. Lori –

    Thanks for that story. Reminds of me the time many years ago that I had a Walkman (I told you it was many years ago!) stolen from my luggage on a flight home from Lisbon, Portugal.

    What’s unique about your story is that, by gate checking the bag, there were only a few employees who had the opportunity to steal your laptop. I applaud your aggressive stance with Delta. That approach was probably the main reason you received reimbursement. Now, I hope you had your data backed up…

  5. Further to Lori’s story of a thieving Delta baggage handler, the Queens (NY) district attorney today charged 2 American Airlines JFK baggage handlers with stealing 925 pieces of jewelry worth $280,000 from the checked suitcase of a jewelry dealer bound for LA.

    While loading baggage, one handler allegedly picked up a bag and said, “Wow, that’s a heavy bag. I think I have a good find.” His supervisor allegedly came over, opened the bag, and pulled out envelopes full of jewelry. Both handlers face up to 15 years in prison.

    This one just makes you scratch your head and go “Huh?” I understand that a bag that can hold 925 pieces of jewelry is probably a bit too big for the overhead compartment. However, you’d think that the guy would’ve locked those valuables up in something like a flight-proof gun case and then requested an in-person TSA inspection before re-locking it up tight. This in no way justifies the theft, but I don’t think you want to obliviously tempt fate (or baggage handlers or TSA employees)

    Click here for the Queens DA’s press release and here for the WSJ.com story

  6. As a longtime listener, I was delighted to be mentioned on your podcast. More importantly, I was glad that you were getting the word out about the study. I would like to point out one thing, though. By mistake, you linked to a splog, a spammer’s blog that has illegally copy-and-pasted the content from our site. In fact, I’m with BudgetTravel.com, and our blog is This Just In http://current.newsweek.com/budgettravel/ I’m not asking for you to link to our site; but I just don’t want to give a fake blog undue attention.

  7. Sean, thanks for the note. I’ve changed the link to the one you provided. I hate those splogs — I get content vacuumed up into them also…