Philadelphia airport runway littered with holiday mail

Click Play for Wendy Saltzman's report
December 20, 2013 3:00:51 PM PST
It's a story many of you may find hard to believe during this busy crunch time before Christmas.

Action News has undercover video showing package after package, card after card, strewn along the tarmac at Philadelphia International Airport.

So what were they doing there?

We sent Investigative Reporter Wendy Saltzman out to find answers.

We got our hands on the exclusive video of packages that may miss that holiday deadline because they were mishandled. The video taken Friday morning, December 20th, at the Philadelphia International Airport shows piles of Christmas gifts and cards dumped here on the side of the airport taxiway.

"Due to the holidays it possibly could have been Christmas cards in addition to the regular U.S. mail. Christmas cards, Christmas gifts. Possibly money as well as checks inside there," the worker told us.

The airport worker, who asked to remain confidential, recorded this undercover video of the mail on the way to a US Airways airplane. He shared it only with Action News.

"The mail itself was spread out quite a distance, probably 3 possibly 5 blocks -- if you are talking city blocks -- along. And it was probably there, as far as we noticed, for at least 20 minutes."

Christmas cards, flying in the wind; packages pitched across the tarmac for about 100 yards.

"If they are turning on to the taxi way, the jet blast could blow the mail under equipment, into the grass, in the interior of the airport."

Some of the packages, he says, were covered in salt and melting snow. But it's something he says he sees almost every season.

"Very disappointing, now when I've lost mail or never received mail, it's kind of makes you think how well and professionally handled is your us mail."

The U.S. Postal Service reviewed the video and sent us a statement saying:

"We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention. The mail has been retrieved, and will be moving forward to its destination. We have been in contact with US Airways to review procedures pertaining to mail transport security."

For its part, US Airways says this was an isolated incident and that all the mail was retrieved in about 15 minutes. In a statement a spokesperson said:

"As one of our largest and most important cargo customers, we take our responsibility to the U.S. Postal Service very seriously; to be frank, carrying the U.S. Mail is a point of pride with our employees due to the high standards the Postal Service requires of shippers.

"This was an isolated incident that we quickly became aware of and resolved in a timely manner (approximately 15 minutes after occurring).

"We can definitively say that all the mail in question was collected and none was damaged. I would like to offer an apology on behalf of US Airways as this isn't the way we operate. But as your viewers can surely appreciate, life sometimes takes an unexpected turn and it is our ongoing mission to learn from what occurred.

"US Airways is no Scrooge ? ensuring that our customers have an enjoyable holiday and that their packages, cards and letters get to their destination safely and on time is of paramount importance to each of us."

But the worker who provided the video is still concerned about confidential information and identities that could have been compromised.

"Not everybody gets their stuff insured. So if a situation like this happens and someone is missing their mail, it could very well be in the middle of the airport."

If you think your package was lost in the mail, you can file a claim with the U.S. Postal Service for items that were lost, delayed, or damaged. But you have to have a label or tracking number. It also helps to keep the receipt for the gift so you can show the value, and have a receipt of shipment as a way to prove when and where you shipped it.


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