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TSA, not airline, is responsible for valuables missing from luggage

File claim for valuables missing from luggage with TSA

Q: Sometime while flying from Manchester, N.H., to Tampa, my luggage was searched.

When I arrived home I found my jewelry items were missing. The items were keepsakes from my two sons who are now gone, and needless to say the gifts were very precious to me. My wedding ring was also in the same pouch along with several pairs of earrings.

The airline told me it has no responsibility for this, so who does? After all, we really have no choice about leaving our luggage open to whoever fancies any of its contents.

I truly hope you will look into this for me and all the others to whom this has happened and don't know where or to whom to send their complaints.

Evelyn F. Saucier

A: The Transportation Security Administration is the place to file any claims for missing items from inside your checked luggage. TSA asks that you check and double-check your baggage for the items before filing a claim. Also, contact the lost and found department at the airport where you believe the incident happened. If you still cannot locate your items, filing a claim with TSA should be your next step.

TSA's Web site reports that it employs 45,000 screeners at more than 450 airports in the United States and its territories. These screeners check more than 50 million checked bags and 35 million passengers per month. Although most baggage screening takes place in public view and under security cameras, it is possible for a TSA screener to forget to replace a personal item in your baggage or damage an item when repacking your baggage. Due to these uncommon, yet feasible, mistakes, TSA strongly recommends not packing jewelry, cash, laptop computers, electronics or fragile items in checked baggage.

The process of filing a claim for missing or damaged items is tedious and can be time-consuming. TSA's Claims Management Branch says it tries to resolve complaints promptly, but acknowledges that it could take up to "six months to fully investigate your claim." A properly documented claim can be resolved much faster than a claim that requires more information.

You can find the official claims form in the Claims Management section of tsa.gov. Although it is noted on the form, TSA reiterates the key items to include with your claim in order to ensure the fastest and most efficient processing. The claim must be "sum certain," which means the loss must have an exact dollar amount associated with it. The claim must include the specific date of incident, specific location and your full legal signature. Other items that are critical for the proper adjudication of the claim include the purchase receipt of the original item lost or damaged, boarding passes, baggage tags, repair or replacement estimates, past or present photographs of the items and any other supporting documents.

You can mail your claim form to: TSA Claims Management Office, 601 S 12th St., TSA-9, Arlington, VA 20598-6009; or fax the TSA Claims Management Office at (571) 227-1904. A letter of acknowledgment from TSA should be received within three weeks if you send your form by mail and within six days if it is faxed.

TSA, not airline, is responsible for valuables missing from luggage 07/18/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 18, 2009 5:31am]

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