The Dark Side of Checking in Baggage Before a Flight

One California woman was one of thousands who discovered their luggage was missing when they landed.
7:17 | 08/27/14

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Transcript for The Dark Side of Checking in Baggage Before a Flight
Summertime fun, for many of us it's about getting on a plane and landing in paradise. But for others, it can be a one-way ticket to hell that can start at the airport as soon as you check your bags. I think I realized something was wrong when I saw the line forming, and then it really sank in when the security guard started coming in. Just a few weeks ago Nora low of San Diego was among thousands of british airways passengers flying out of London's heathrow airport, only to find when she landed there was a computer glitch and her luggage was missing. Horrible. For four days british airways didn't ship any luggage. They told me about 40,000 bags had been misplaced. Did she say 40,000 bags? Nora was flying from a two-week business business in Amsterdam to her brother's place in lake tahoe. It completely ruined my vacation. I had about $4,000 worth of clothing in it. Not only did their customer service stop taking phone calls, their voice mail filled up and they weren't allowing you to leave a message. She says days go by wh no answers, so Nora wages her own war against the airlines. Her ammunition? Tweets. I just started tweeting. That's when I started to realize that there was other people that were tweeting the same, and we formed a little army and just kept retweeting. Did it work? We'll see. Last October, Megan Mccord, an Atlanta jewelry designer had a similar hellish experience when she said she packed about $6,000 of her precious jewels in the suitcase she checked. Were you nervous about the idea of checking your bag with jewelry in it? I thought it will be okay. I can't carry all this stuff. At the baggage carousel, anxiety. Waiting and waiting and this bag never showed. Megan was flabbergasted. But that doesn't surprise this guy. He's a professional baggage handler. What's one of the biggest misconceptions about how our bags are handled. That we care. In his book, the American made baggage handler, he unloads the dark side of his profession. You should assume that this bag is going to be handled in the worst way. Watch. This rampie likes the pushover technique. A lot of these folks have been standing there for quite a while. What's going on back there? They're in no rush. As they deliver the bags to the claim, the bags fall out of the cart onto the ground. Bags rolling like tumble weeds. Think life can be better in the front of the plane? Think again. In fact, that first class priority tag might even make your suitcase more attractive to a sticky fingered handler. What does a baggage handler look into a bag? I imagine there are cameras around the airport. They find places that are not monitored. Like these guys caught in the belly of a plane in JFK. This one goes through a wallet and snags cash. This one snags headphones. As long as they got that bag in an area that's unmonitored, unsupervised, they can do what they want. Megan knows that for sure. Her missing bag finally arrived in her Atlanta home 23 days later with, she says, an unwelcome surprise. Let's put gloves on. Why rubber gloves in wait and see. Did you recognize any of these things. These are my jeans but they're turned. Somebody had worn these. Yes. Then I find shoes two sizes two big. Then here comes the really gross part. Dirty panties. You found someone else's underwear in the bag? Yes. Preworn. Then comes the jewelry bag. So I open it up and I was just devastated. So they took all of your July R -- jewelry except for these pieces. Yes. Somebody got rid of your stuff, swapped it out for their own? Yes. It felt violating. In one of the busiest airports in the U.S., los Angeles police recently caught baggage handlers red-handed. Chief Patrick Gannon headed the sting operation. The pictures here that you see are the items that were recovered during the search warrant. And what did they steal out of those bags? Cell phones, iPads, expensive jewelry, Cartier sunglasses and $1,000 cameras. I do think that the temptation is great. But when you take into consideration 460 theft reports and last year with 67 million passengers, that's really not a lot of theft. So how bad is it? Here some hard Numbers. According to the U.S. Department of transportation, more than 99% of checked luggage actually arrives unscathed. Last year alone there were almost 170,000 reports of mishandled bags in the U.S. That includes damage, delay, lost and theft. So what's a weary traveler to do to help ensure your luggage arrives safely? First, buy a four wheeler. When we load a plane, if it doesn't have the wheels, they will throw it, kick it, toss it. With four wheels they can just roll the bag. Next, find a bag as strong as a tank. What is this made of? This is the same material that the NFL used for their shoulder pads and race cars. If it does not have zippers, immediately people who steal luggage, it gives them less options. Believe it or not, experts say don't check in too early. Just 60 to 90 minutes before takeoff can help prevent your luggage from being tossed and lost. And if you're really paranoid about keeping track of your bag, technology to the rescue. For 90 bucks you can get a tracking device like track dot. I packed it on a recent trip to L.A. Just after landing, ta-da, I got an alert on my phone. My suitcase was in L.A., too. The Joyce of reuniting with your bag. Now back to our unlucky traveler, Nora, and her Twitter war with british airways. It's been nearly two months and still no luggage. I've tweeted about this and gotten people to pay attention. Guess who spots Nora's tweets. We did. That seems to have done the trick. About an hour later I got a call from british airways saying that they were going to help me with my claim. We reached out to british airways who declined to talk on camera but did tell us this. We're very sorry that Ms. Low's luggage was misplaced but on the rare occasion we are unable to find a bag, we will make sure that a customer is compensated. Well, Nora still doesn't have her bag. But just recently she finally got a check from british airways. $1750 plus a $500 bonus as a good will gesture, about half of what she says her back is worth. Travel nightmare, lesson learned the hard way. I'm never going to check a bag

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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