Necessity Mothers Another Business
There's little as frustrating as finding out, with half an hour
before your flight, that you can't take your Medal of Honor with
you in your pocket. What do you do -- give it to the security
people, trust it to your checked baggage, or skip your flight,
hoping that a rational supervisor will appear in the chain of
command, and get you on the next bird out of town?
With those options pretty much long shots, you look for another
way around the problem. If you're lucky enough to be stuck at
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, you have
a viable option: CheckPoint Mailers Inc. Raleigh-Durham is on
board; some 40 other major airports are already in negotiations,
with ten nearly ready to go, including in the country's premier
port of entry.
Heather Lowry (above), a former USAirways ground employee,
frustrated by the ambiguous and ever-changing whims of airport
security gnomes, figured there must be a way to not lose her
belongings, or miss her flights. She asked what so many of us have
asked: "Is there a way for me to mail my stuff?" When she was told,
"no," she didn't do what most of us do (give up) -- she decided to
start a mailing business.
The hardest part of getting started, Lowry told the Associated
Press, was figuring out how to build a self-service mailing station
that would meet the TSA's specifications, especially since they
don't really have any guidelines. Eventually, all parties settled
on a 500-pound, concrete box for the transactions.
You go to the box, fill out a label, drop your
item and $6 cash (or check, or credit card voucher) into a
self-sealing plastic bag, and go to your flight. (International
shipments cost $12.) There's a two-pound limit; and, of course,
things that can't be mailed -- like your handgun or pepper spray --
can't be mailed. Insurance is optional -- it can cover those
expensive or sentimental items.
Each evening, a CheckPoint employee empties the big concrete
box, and puts the items in postable envelopes, mails them, and
gives the host airport 10%.
The airport seems to like it, and Lowry is fixin' to become a
millionaire, by giving the people what they need -- another
workaround for a government mandate.