Leaving Houston Sunday morning after a golf weekend, I put a TSA-approved lock on my golf travel bag’s zipper pulls as I was loading up for the trip home.  One of my friends mentioned the lock, and indicated he thought locks weren’t allowed on luggage. I explained the “theory” behind the TSA locks, and kiddingly said that in actual practice, after opening the lock, TSA employees usually: a) re-lock it on one zipper pull only, b) put it inside the bag, or c) keep it. I was joking, sort of.

In a perfect example of bad karma, this time they did something completely different: when I arrived home and retrieved my bag, the TSA-approved lock had been cut off the bag. But they didn’t cut the cable on the lock: instead, some enterprising TSA employee removed the lock by cutting through the zipper pulls.

Really?? Gosh, thanks TSA, for being so discriminating in your hiring practices. I guess I should be happy the employee in question didn’t cut open my bag in order to inspect my clubs.

I’ve been very tolerant of the entire security theater “process,” but until now the TSA hadn’t actually damaged my property. What a farce!

Update – TSA’s response:

Thank you for your e-mail in which you request to file a claim with the Transportation Security Administration.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is required by law to screen all property that is brought onboard commercial passenger aircraft.  To ensure the security of the traveling public, it is sometimes necessary for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to conduct hand inspections of bags.  TSOs receive training in the procedures to properly inspect passenger bags and are required to exercise great care during the screening process so that when bags are opened a passenger’s belongings are returned to the same condition they were found.  We regret that you were not satisfied with the manner in which luggage was handled.

To protect a passenger’s rights under Federal law and to file a valid claim, travelers must send their claim in writing to TSA, stating the circumstances of the loss and the exact amount claimed (fair market value of lost or destroyed property, reasonable cost of repair for damaged property), within 2 years after the claim occurred.  The claim must be signed by the claimant or an authorized representative (e.g., an attorney or other personal representative with appropriate proof of authority).  TSA is responsible for reviewing all claims relating to the screening of passengers and their baggage.

To file a claim, you should fill out the Standard Form 95 (claim form) in accordance with the instructions and return it to the address in box number 1.  A claim form will be sent to you within 24 hours of this response. While use of the form is not mandatory, it may help travelers ensure that they meet the legal requirements for filing a claim.  If you decide to file a claim, it will be processed in accordance with the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Once TSA’s Claims Management Branch (CMB) has received your claim form, you will be sent a letter of acknowledgement and a claim number.  You should keep the claim number for future reference when inquiring about the claim.  TSA tries to resolve claims as quickly as possible but may need time for further investigation of the facts.  If TSA denies a claim, or has not finally resolved it within 6 months after it was filed, travelers have a right to bring their claim to court.

You can also access claim forms online at TSA’s Claims Management Branch Web site at www.tsa.gov/travelers/customer/claims/index.shtm.  This Web site also has information related to filing a claim, checking the status of a claim, and other claim-related issues.  You can also access this Web site by clicking on the CMB link in the “Resource Center” on TSA’s homepage at www.tsa.gov.  For additional questions related to the claims process, please contact the CMB at tsaclaimsoffice@dhs.gov.

We hope this information is helpful.

TSA Contact Center

“Form 95”  is four pages long:  they request quotes for repairs or replacements, the entire itinerary, the baggage claim tag number (I’ve thrown the tags out, of course), and so forth.  I’ll pursue it, but need to get a quote from someone locally for repairing the bag. I’m also in touch with Club Glove (interestingly enough, my email to them included the words “Neanderthal” and “TSA” in the same sentence).  I’ll let you know…

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4 Comments on TSA continues to impress… updated

  1. Cindy H says:

    Did you report this to the TSA? They should pay to fix the bag if they damaged it.


    Kevin Reply:


    I submitted a complaint via email, but did so recently, so I haven’t heard anything yet. In all fairness, it’s possible that the damage was done by someone else (baggage handler, etc.), so my hopes are not high. I’ll let you know how I make out. The bag in question is a $200 Club Glove Burstproof… what a shame!


  2. My brother was traveling recently for a dive trip. Upon arriving at his destination he found his thousand dollar dive regulator missing and his bag had been checked by the TSA. He filed complaints but the outcome was definitely not in his favor. It doesn’t matter what industry or job it is, there are going to be the occasional dishonest person. We can just hope that living with what they have done is enough to make them change their ways.


  3. Adriano says:

    I feel just glad that I tend to travel in good ole Europe and with hand luggage only (although I understand that golf bags cannot fit the overheat compartment…)
    Last time I needed extra luggage to check in, so I took a… carton and transformed it into my luxurious checked in baggage. Nothing new. My ancestors emigrated with “cardboard suitcases” containing all their few properties… When history strikes back…


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