That lost or damaged item from your last flight? The TSA probably won’t pay what you ask

Memorial Day weekend travelers line up at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport. More than half of the claims filed with the TSA for lost or stolen items are denied, according to a study.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

If something valuable disappears from your checked baggage or is damaged during your next flight, your chances of getting the Transportation Security Administration to approve a claim for your property aren’t so good.

A study of the nearly 8,000 claims filed against the TSA in 2016 and early 2017 found that the federal agency takes up to six months to respond to a claim and that more than half of those claims were denied.

Of the TSA claims that are resolved, 54% are denied, 24% are approved in full, 12% are settled for an amount less than what was requested and 10% are canceled or closed out for other reasons, the study found.

The most common items lost or damaged are bags, cases, purses, clothing, computers and accessories and jewelry, according to the study by Stratos Jet, the charter airline based in Orlando. (The company recommends travelers fly charter jets to avoid TSA hassles.)


Jewelry, cash and camera equipment are the items rejected by the TSA at the highest rate, at least 70% of the time, the study found.

The claims that the TSA most often approved in full were for lost or damaged travel accessories, home decor items and food or drinks, the study found. But even with those items, the TSA settles less than half of the time.

In 2016, the average settlement payout was slightly more than $260, the study found.

The TSA has long recommended that travelers refrain from packing valuables in checked luggage but instead keep them in their carry-on bags or ship them to the final destination.

In a statement, the TSA said it takes seriously its responsibility for processing claims but also points out that bags are in the possession of the airlines for much longer than they are with the federal screeners.

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