TSA in Seattle

Arrived in Amsterdam yesterday from Seattle. TSA had opened our bags. Mine was trashed - everything removed and then dumped back in, then squashed so it could fit, breaking all containers (in ziplock bags, fortunately). The lock was discarded (a standard Eagle Creek lock, so the TSA would have no difficulty opening it). Only one of my expensive German hiking shoes was replaced in the bag, so I'm shopping in Dortmund today for a new pair - $200 gone. We've had our bags randomly checked in the past, but this was sheer vandalism. Sent an email to TSA and the automated reply was too bad these things happen, but they have no responsiblity for missing items. Sigh.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I'm so sorry that happened to you. It's a terrible way to start a vacation. Are you aware that there's a detailed 'Claim' process you can go through? If it's not too late, take photos of the damage to support the claim. Of course you can't photograph a shoe that's now gone, but still... I think an email exchange is insufficient, and you should be able to get some compensation for your loss. http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/claims-management-branch

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Was there a note from TSA in the luggage?

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

That really sucks. I am so sorry for you. It's a horrible way to start what should have been a wonderful trip.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
956 posts

As a (reluctant) Seattle-ite, I offer a heartfelt SO SORRY and THAT $UCKS on behalf of the ham-handed TSA folks at SeaTac. What a way to start a relaxing vacation! I would definitely follow up with the TSA and go through the claims process that Rose found. I mean, I know it will be a huge hassle, but honestly - they oughtn't be able to just get away with what is basically vandalism. Have a great rest of your trip!

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

I'm packing today for a short international flight leaving tonight and I feel terrible that Dennis' misfortune has reminded me yet again to travel with my smallest suitcase (that has a lifetime repair/replace warranty) and to not give in to the urge to check anything. I sometimes relent when I want the freedom to move about without dragging the bag.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

I understand they need to search bags . I understand they may not repack bags neatly.
What I do not understand is how they can remove things from bag, and then not replace it all( leaving out one shoe) and then claim they have no responsibility for that. That sucks.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
611 posts

TSA can open approved locks without damaging same. Are you sure TSA is the culprit rather than say a baggage handler?

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

In other words, as Ed asked, was there a TSA note inside? If so, I hope you kept it to process your claim. If not, maybe you should take th eissue up with the airline?

Posted by Dennis
Redmond, WA
284 posts

Thanks for the notes! Yes, there was a TSA note inside. This has happened before (left a mess)but never so bad. We spend two months each summer in Europe and have never had anything taken by handlers in all the flights we've taken, but yes, it could have been a handler, I suppose. But given the TSA note, and the past results from them (relocked, at least) so similar to this I'm sure it's TSA. A handler would have taken other things. Thanks for the claims information - I'll pursue it! Now on for fun - two weeks in Budapest, four in Istanbul, a week in Greece, and then Switzerland. Back to Seattle on August 23!

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11280 posts

"Why aren't the Dutch suspects?" Because they are Dutch! TSA might open a bag before it goes on an airplane (that's why you have to check in early), especially if they suspect there is something dangerous in it. Once it arrives, the Dutch have little reason or time to open it before it gets to the carousel. If they suspect it contains something you can't bring into the country, there is always Customs. Just one more reason to pack light and carry on.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

Sounds like a good argument for packing light and carrying on.

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Afterthought: There may be a limited time frame (like 7 days after the loss or damage) for making a claim for an international flight. Claims for domestic flights are typically required within 24 hours or less! The expectation is that the traveler would go immediately to the Baggage Desk in the Baggage Claim area where an attendant would be able to see the damage first-hand and provide the forms for making a claim. The longer time allowed for a claim involving an international flight is probably because a traveler would get no joy trying to report TSA-caused damage in a non-U.S. airport. It's just wierd that only one shoe went missing. If it was vandalism with theft as the intent, seems the perpetrator would have taken both shoes. Something else must have happened in this case.

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
464 posts

It may not do any good, but you might fill out a lost property report for SeaTac. Maybe someone "backstage" found your other shoe and turned it in. You never know: Lost and Found

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

We had a few items go missing from my son's bag in a similar incident out of SeaTac 3 years ago. I pitched a fit and contacted both British Airways and the TSA. Both provided me with damage claim forms. I submitted both, since I was not sure whose fault it was. The items were not expensive or important (tshirts and such), but I was furious and thought they should take responsibility for respecting people's things. Astonishingly, BOTH the TSA and BA replied and compensated us for the missing items. I got 2 checks. I admit that I cashed them both. So, yes. File a claim!! I think there is a solid chance you will be reimbursed for your missing and damaged items, no guarantees of course, but it's worth complaining.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Angela , good for you, nothing to "admit" ,, you did the right thing.

Posted by Dennis
Redmond, WA
284 posts

Well, fellow readers, I logged on to the TSA claims site, which explains the lengthy process. I clicked on the claims forms link....and got a 404 error message, page not found. Tried several times. I checked online and can buy a new pair for $200 plus tax and shipping. I'll snoop here in Dortmund this weekend and see the local price before we leave for Budapest. Not the worst thing that can happen on a trip, for sure. Last year my wife and one of our daughters flew from Berlin to Paris for a week together. My daughter flew on to her location, and my wife got to the airport well on time for her 8am flight. Alas, the flight left the day before - my fault in writing her a note about her reservation. Cost a lot for a new flight back to Berlin! RS readers could start a wonderful collection of dumb travel errors. Thank you all for your support, it's good not to grumble alone. And losing the shoe is the only grumble I have at all in life!

Posted by Rose
NYC
922 posts

Trying to stay awake during miserable layover after screaming-infant-all-night-on-RedEye-flight... For anyone reading this thread who may want to pursue a TSA loss/damage claim, the Tort Claim Package can be downloaded from the following page (I was able to get it), and the page includes instructions for where to send the completed form. http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/claim-forms

Posted by JB
Redding, CA, USA
1568 posts

Not sure if my (checked) bag was opened at SFO or SEA/TAC (last Wednesday)but 1 buckle was left undone and stuff was rearranged....not too bad. Nothing missing that I could tell. I had a TSA lock on it. My other checked was was not opened as far as I can tell.