TSA Paid Millions In Damages for Lost, Stolen & Broken Passenger Items

July 3, 2015  |  

With the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) rummaging through passenger possessions like hungry raccoons, the agency faced 50,000 complaints between 2010 and 2014. According to USA Today, one-third of these complaints were approved and settled, which cost TSA $3 million.

TSA does its due diligence to protect us from unsavory characters on our flights, but passengers are fed up with what Bruce Anderson, a TSA spokesman, calls employee “misconduct.”  There were reports of missing food, money, medicine, several thousands worth of jewelry, electronics and more.

“TSA aggressively investigates all allegations of misconduct and, when infractions are discovered, moves swiftly to hold the offenders accountable,” Anderson said. “TSA holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero-tolerance policy for theft in the workplace.”

America’s 30 busiest airports accounted for nearly two-thirds of all settled claims. New York’s John F. Kennnedy International Airport topped the list with about 860 paid cases. Los Angeles International came in second with 791. USA Today adds that these numbers aren’t surprising since there are many more TSA agents working at these locations.

“Among the 30 top airports, adjusted by the number of people served, the share of passengers who filed claims – and got paid – was highest at Dulles International in Washington and Orlando International,” USA Today said.

TSA officials say that they are boosting efforts to monitor employee theft, this includes installing cameras to oversee bag inspections at airports. Citing a 2011 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, USA Today added that TSA agents were inadequately vetted for their positions; background checks were found to “miss” information that would have disqualified candidates. As of June, TSA announced that it will seal up those loopholes and take steps to properly screen applicants.

To lessen your chances of falling into a dispute with TSA, Charles Leocha, chairman of TravelersUnited.org, advises passengers refrain from putting valuables in checked bags and recommends reporting baggage problems as soon as possible.

“If there is a problem, you want to make sure you report it immediately to the authorities because airlines and airports all look at questions of missing items with a bit of skepticism when they’re not reported for about 24 hours or so,” Leocha said. “They could’ve been lost anywhere.”

For passengers who spot theft or damage, TSA provides a form online for claimants to fill — there must be proof of damage and TSA negligence.

An average of three out of every 1,000 passengers find damaged or lost items, according to the Department of Transportation. Virgin Airlines loses the least number of bags while Envoy Air misplaces the most.

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