TSA denies Most Lost/Stolen Property Claims, Says Study

If something valuable disappears from your checked baggage or is damaged during your next flight, your chances of getting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to approve a claim for your property aren’t so good, according to a new study by Stratos Jet Charters.

Stratos Jet Charters, an air charter service provider, surveyed nearly 8,000 TSA claims that were resolved by the agency in 2016 and early 2017 and found that travelers’ claims for lost or damaged items during this period took up to six months to get a response, and that more than half of those claims were denied.

While many of these claims are still under review, claims that were approved in full ranged in value from a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some airports may experience more of these lost or stolen item claims than others. In fact, JFK International Airport was once described as a “flea market for airport employees,” with reports claiming that more than 200 items are stolen from passengers’ checked luggage every day.

According to the study:

  • More than half of all the requests (68 percent) were completely denied in 2016, while less than 32 percent were fully approved.
  • In 2016, the average settlement payout was slightly more than $260.
  • Jewelry, cash, and camera equipment are the items with the highest percentage of claims denied by the TSA. These claims are rejected at least 70 percent of the time.
  • The most likely items to be approved by the TSA include travel accessories, home decor and personal electronics, but even with those items, the TSA settles less than half of the time.
  • Around 50 percent of requests for reimbursement for travel accessories, such as charging cables, toiletries and adapters, were fully accepted during the study period.

Making a claim

According to a TSA representative, “Every effort is made to resolve a claim when property is proven to be damaged or lost during TSA’s security screening process” and “TSA takes seriously the responsibility to fairly adjudicate claims.”

In order to get approved for a claim, passengers must provide proof of their loss, as well as evidence of TSA negligence. Travelers are also encouraged to provide as much detail as possible, such as receipts, appraisals and flight information.

The Federal Tort Claims Act governs the way a traveler’s claim is processed and establishes their rights in regards to their claim.

Once a form is submitted, the claimant will receive a letter with instructions and a control number for their records.

A claim will be denied if and when the investigation determines that TSA officers never opened a bag for a physical inspection. If a claim is approved, the TSA can take up to six months to fully investigate a claim, though cases involving law enforcement may take longer. If a passenger is denied or doesn’t receive a prompt response, they can file a suit against TSA with the U.S. District Court.

The best advice comes from the TSA, who has long recommended that travelers refrain from packing valuables in checked luggage and opting instead to keep them in their carry-on bags or shipping them to their final destination.

To find out more about filing a claim, visit the TSA’s Claims page.

Source: Stratos Jet Charters