You may be surprised to learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) accepts responsibility for damage or loss to your property. “If during the screening process a passenger’s property is damaged or misplaced,” says the agency’s website, “travelers may file a claim with TSA.”
Recently, a flyer was able to successfully claim $3.99 for a jar of peanut butter that was seized during the inspection process. According to NBCNews.com, Stephanie Lambert, who had kept the original receipt for her peanut butter, submitted a claim on June 19 and received an electronic refund to her bank account a few months later.
The TSA asks for receipts and lots of backup information, but if you can provide those, the agency will probably do the right thing. The Claims Management Branch page goes into excruciating detail about exactly how the process works.
The process seems to be pretty straightforward for claims that arise out of the screening for personal effects and carry-on baggage. Where it becomes complicated is the case of damage to checked baggage, when the TSA and the airline can blame each other, and there is no easy way to prove responsibility. All you can do in that case is file a claim with both—and hope one or the other will work.
The moral of the story? Keep your receipts.
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