Monday, November 10, 2008

How to file a claim with the TSA

So you've arrived at your destination and you find a love note in your luggage from your Homeland Security Junta, instead of some beloved belonging of yours. And let's just say that instead of anything of real value, like your camera, your phone, your charging devices, your clothes and jewelry -- which would just make them crooks in low-paying jobs in a time of great economic difficulty -- but your journal. Which just makes it creepy.

If any one of these posts haven't gotten me detained yet, this one ought to do it.

In the spirit of good will, I can provide some instruction into how the system expects you to respond to this situation. Like the sweepstakes, and the IRS, it has a lot of multi-step paperwork in small print, and counts on you not to save any of the important "supporting documentation." Work from within the system, Mrs. Perkins always said.

Start on the website, of course:

Dig who's on the watch list.

Am I supposed to come to the conclusion that this girl is safe, or suspicious? Because her anachronistic hair and distance from her own carryon makes me think she is a midget subversive who ought to be patted down.

From here, search for the claim form. Oh, you'll never find it. It's here.

First you'll get a disclaimer that says, basically, the world's an imperfect place and screws fall out all the time. Then you are offered a window of opportunity (60 days - 6 months) to tell you they can't find it. "Critical life-supporting medications and property will be expedited through the claims process." Don't you want to know how that happens?

The standard process is this:

  • You file a claim (more on which in a minute. say those 2 first words together fast).
  • Claim goes into claims management system (pile)
  • You are provided a claim number (false sense of security) and asked for more information. This step alone takes 3 weeks. Better hope you didn't lose your kitten.
  • Claim is sent to an Investigator
  • Investigator will review (lose) your supporting documents and ask you for more information
  • Investigator will make a recommendation (The TSA themselves puts this in quotes)
  • Your claim is assigned to a Delegated Authority official (accounts payable clerk)who will request your reimbursement.
    Notice that so far, no one has looked for your item
  • You get a check from the Coast Guard.
  • You find your stuff in the pawn shop on Airport Rd.

Or, Smurph suggests, you find it published on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble. "heeeyy... wait a minute..." It was Smurph who suggested I include a handwriting sample in my supporting documentation. This will either do the trick or get the FBI watching my mail. ("...which she seems to send a lot of...")

The form itself is SF-95 Tort Claim package. Notice that the form was written years before 2001. It is 4 pages long, and you can complete the form on line, but you can NOT... wait for it... save a soft copy of the form. Oooh, they are the slyboots, aren't they? One prints out the completed form and faxes or mails it (what manner of ancient alchemy is this?) to the claims office.

The form has NINE useful hints. "Jimmy, you done with that form yet?" "Hold up, I need a 10th hint. Somebody give me a hint." "Here's a hint - The Boss doesn't like late work." I'll give you the 10th hint. Don't put anything valuable in your luggage.

It's a one-stop form for claims of "Damage, Injury, or Death." One shudders to think.

Here are the things you will need to provide with your form and have already thrown away in the seatback in front of you:

  • Insurance coverage information
  • Itinerary
  • Baggage claim numbers and stickers
  • Related incident report numbers

Now you wait.

The Claims Management System is currently "under construction" to upgrade the system and enhance its performance. Therefore, the ability to look up the current status of your claim is inaccessible at this time. We do apologize for this inconvenience....Although our number of phone lines is limited, you may call... between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and we will make every attempt to answer your call in a timely manner.
You will have to wait with me to see how this show turns out. This is what we used to call a "two parter."


  1. And could it have fallen under your bed at home? or at the hotel during the blackout? M

  2. Um, have you forgotten the class of '85's connection to the TSA? Maybe Paula B. can pull some strings for you.



Comments Build Community! We thank you for yours. Spam comments are not welcome and will not be posted.