TSA makes deep cuts in backlog of checked baggage claims from passengers

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National Press Release
Monday, September 20, 2004

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it has adjudicated cases for more than 17,600 airline passengers who filed claims for property damaged or lost when their checked baggage was screened for explosives. The passengers will receive letters advising them that TSA has agreed to pay the claim in full or in part or has denied the claim. Paid claims average about $110. TSA has processed more than 25,600 checked baggage claims and is seeking additional information from passengers on about 8,000 claims.

"Since TSA assumed responsibility for screening at the nation's airports in February 2002, less than .01 percent of more than 1.5 billion airline passengers have submitted claims," said Ron Sokolov, the agency's Executive Director for Customer Service and Education. "TSA is committed to assisting that small percentage of customers who do encounter a problem when flying."

Passenger Travel Tips to Help Avoid Having to File a Claim

  • DO NOT OVERPACK – If you have difficulty closing your suitcase, it is overpacked and could result in damage to the suitcase, zippers or contents should the bag need to be opened during security screening.
  • DO NOT PACK EXPENSIVE OR FRAGILE ITEMS – Fragile electronic items like laptops, expensive personal items like jewelry, and cash should be kept in carry-ons and not checked.
  • PUT ALL LOOSE EXTERIOR STRAPS INSIDE THE BAG – Baggage handling machines can easily damage loose articles on bags.

TSA's Actions on Claims

  • DEVELOPING NEW TRAINING TECHNIQUES – TSA is developing new training techniques to prevent damage caused by improper repacking after a bag has been opened.
  • NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE – TSA plans to launch a new interactive web-based tool for claimants that will enable them to check the status of their claims on-line.

Since 2003, TSA has negotiated with air carriers to finalize an agreement for checked baggage claims. Often, it is impossible to tell whether damage was caused by TSA screening or the airline baggage-handling process. The airline industry limits claim liability to $2,500 per bag and does not pay for certain items including laptop computers, jewelry, electronics and cash. The government, which operates under the Federal Tort Claim Act, has no such restrictions – a key reason TSA and the airlines were unable to reach an agreement. To address the backlog, TSA decided to adjudicate the claims unilaterally. This fall, TSA will re-open negotiations with the airlines with the goal of developing a revised agreement.