Should you bring a receipt for your tech products when traveling? And why?
Yes, you should, and I will tell you why.
What does that even mean?
Well, today we’re going to have a little story time, which hopefully can save someone else from the same trouble I experienced.
To start with my background. I’m from Europe, but I travel to the United States at least once a year and have done so for quite some time now.
It should come to no surprise that I am very comfortable flying. I am used to the TSA agents and Border control. I am well aware of the limits of my baggage, what to bring, what to do and especially what not to do when flying internationally.
Let’s get to the story
As I was visiting the south coast a few years ago, I was out on a road trip with a friend and was running low on battery on my phone.
Luckily, I had a car-adapter for my charger in my bag. So, I plugged in my phone, and without warning, my phone just died. Not overthinking it, I tried restarting the phone as well as resetting the RAM. Nothing I tried seemed to be able to revive my phone, so I decided to give up and go to the Apple Store and ask for help.
The Apple Store employee informed me that the battery had somehow been fried by the car. I was in desperate need of a working phone as it was my only source of taking pictures and this was at the beginning of my trip.
So, I took the bullet and turned my phone in for a new one with a few dollars in between as my Apple Care had expired sadly. I was just happy to have a brand new working phone.
Fastforwarding to my flight home
My flights were scheduled to have a layover at another airport before heading home, which was fine, I was used to it.
As I was on my way to the passport control, I was approached by two agents from TSA, asking me to step aside. No big deal, I thought.
This is where the story took a strange turn. I was forwarded to walk into a separate room where two additional TSA agents also entered the room and closed the door. I have had many different experiences with TSA agents before so being pulled aside for random questioning wasn’t a big deal.
Well, until they all took their guns out of their holsters, that is.
I was shocked as they told me to raise my arms up and not move. I did as they asked, of course. And once they felt they had control of the situation I assume, they asked me to empty my pockets onto a table, revealing my phone, wallet and a pack of gum.
What were the legal grounds for this search?
So, once everyone, including me, had calmed down a bit. They explained that they were suspecting that I had stolen the phone I had, according to them, because I was walking with it in my hands. It sounds bizarre and it was.
They would not let me leave without showing a receipt, and the paper receipt I had was not in my hands at the time. Luckily, I had a copy on my mail, which cleared my name, and I was a free man.
Conclusion – Bring a receipt for your tech when flying
It sounds like a random search gone wrong, but luckily that was all that it was. I now carry a receipt copy of my tech products, at least my phone and laptop, whenever I travel internationally.
The TSA agents were just doing their job, and they acted upon what they thought was suspicious activity. I advise you to always go along with the staff at the airport as it generally works itself out if you allow them to follow protocol.
Although it might just have been bad luck that one time, I hope this article might help avoid someone else from having the same experience as I did!