(Original article was published on primausatravel.com/blog on July 21, 2022.)
For nearly two years, Prima USA Travel has been donating damaged suitcases and travel bags to the Homeland Security Section of the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Police to train the K9 unit that specializes in sniffing out explosives. This is thanks to the agency’s ability to think outside the box, especially when under pressure.
The Covid-19 pandemic has altered many lives and changed the trajectories of numerous businesses and organizations around the globe. We’ve heard stories from the hospitality industry, the food and beverage industry, the arts and entertainment industry, and the fashion industry. Some are tragic, some are uplifting. But there’s one thing that businesses and organizations must do to survive: be creative. And this is exactly what LAX’s Airport Police did.
Since 2008, the total number of passengers who flew to and from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) kept rising. In 2019, there were 88,068,013 passengers arriving and departing LAX, making it the world’s third busiest airport and the US’s second busiest. In 2020, the number dropped to 28,779,527. The impact was felt not only by airlines and shops at LAX, but also by the Airport Police that protects LAWA (Los Angeles World Airport). LAWA is the governing body that serves LAX and Van Nuys Airport, and is therefore responsible for the safety of millions of lives every year. Part of ensuring that safety is by making sure the Airport Police’s K9 unit is well-trained and ready. Every day, Airport Police and their dogs patrol multiple points at both airports, their senses are trained to detect illegal and dangerous items such as weapons, explosives, and narcotics.
The problem is that fewer passengers flying through LAWA airports mean fewer damaged or stored suitcases the K9 Team could use to train the dogs. So they began to reach out to luggage manufacturers in the area, including Prima USA Travel.
“One of my officers very intuitively said, ‘Hey, let’s ask the manufacturers or the distributors,’” explained Lieutenant Pete Trance from the Homeland Security Section of the Los Angeles Airport Police. His staff member had conversations with the airline baggage personnel who recommended they check with the various luggage distributors and warehouses in Los Angeles. “And that’s how it began.”
Suitcases and travel bags under Prima’s brands (American Green Travel, Puíche, AMKA, American Sport Plus, ArgoSport, and the upcoming VinoVia) all come with a comprehensive manufacturing defect warranty, but damages can happen. Donating the damaged luggage to the Airport Police K9 unit not only diverts it from becoming a landfill but also gives it a new purpose that may help save lives.
But what happens to the items after the training is completed?
“We retain them,” Lt. Trance said. “Because there are other opportunities where other law enforcement partners may ask for luggage that they can train on and because there’s always an opportunity for future training purposes.”
As a member of the travel industry, Prima USA Travel is proud to play a part in ensuring the growth and longevity of the travel ecosystem.