Make The Airlines Pay For Property Destruction

December 26, 2009

in Luggage Stories

I flew to the States from Europe with one traditional bag having the 99 cent lock and the other a very expensive hard cased bag I have had for more than 10 years with a combination encased as part of the bag itself. On picking up my bags I found that my traditional bag had the lock broken off at the clasps so you could not even put a new lock on it, and the other had been opened with what must have been a crowbar breaking the locking mechanism completely so that the bag would not close; it was being held together with tape by the people at security who broke it.

I showed the security people what happened and they told me that I should have used a “special lock” that all security personal have the key to, and stated that it was a known practice for everyone to use them. Secondly, she told me that no one uses the combination bags anymore because if you do not have it set to “open” that it is common knowledge that they will be broken open. I told her that I thought if they wanted to check the bag that they would contact the owner and ask them to open it for them. She told me that there is no longer any time to do that and that I “learned the hard way” about new security requirements. When I asked who was going to compensate me for new bags, for a split second she looked shocked, then she smiled and simply turned around and walked away.

When I returned to Europe I went to Lufthansa and told them what happened and that I would need one bag replaced and the other fixed as it was or else  it would have to be replaced as well. At first they said that US security is beyond their control. I told them that when I handed them my luggage it became their responsibility and no matter what the US Government or any other has to say it’s their problem if they are stupid enough to follow these overdone rules that assume everyone on the plane next to me could be Osama’s cousin. I left it with one final ultimatum. Pay up or I take them to court. For me the filing would cost more than the bags would be worth but their cost of defending themselves not to mention my “suffering” blah blah added to the case could cost them maybe a hundred times more than simply replacing them. Literally, before I could finish, they agreed to buy a completely new bag and fix the other, which they did.

I have heard too many scare stories about being bullied likewise by security personal. Simple. Don’t let them, or else make the airline pay. They have no time to defend lawsuits, so your chances are high that they will pay for your problems caused by these unneccessary and unwarranted security measures.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jody December 26, 2009 at 3:17 am

I have no sympathy for this poster (assuming the story is true). It's 8 years after 9/11. Tougher US security has been around for long enough that people should know what is going on, or else know enough to check things out first. Sounds like just a big bully to me.


FinDog December 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

I agree with Jody. But I also put some blame on the airline. Every time I return from Europe they always inspect my lock at the baggage check.


david December 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

its the posters fault and has nothing to do with the airline, security (which isnt airline operated) are the ones who went into your bag to do a search, if they cannot open it coz of a lock than they will find other methods and have the ability to not allow you to fly if they feel that the pass. can be dangerous

you put the locks on that are not tsa approved so take the blaim

and with the attempted terrorist plan that was thankfully foiled yesterday from europe going to detroit on NWA/delta it just shows that its better to check the bags than not


jadefirefly December 26, 2009 at 11:50 am

Welcome to 2009. It’s been eight years since the TSA cracked down on locks. There are signs posted at every major airport now telling you to use TSA approved locks or risk having yours broken.

Your failure to educate yourself on airline procedures does not equate to their responsibility. That’s like blaming the airport because you didn’t arrive early enough to make it through the security checkpoint — that’s your job to handle. Not theirs.

It’s a shame you made yourself look so foolish to so many people over something you should have known about long ago.


Ryan December 26, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Stay in Europe and wait for the terrorists to kill you while your wimpy , depending on the United States to defend them do nothing.


Ryan December 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Sorry, above should read “wimpy countries”, meanwhile kiss my proud American a** douchebag


Smiling Charmer December 26, 2009 at 8:43 pm

I`m from Brazil and I hadn`t been to the US since 1999 when I finally flew back there in 2007. As it was going to be my first time in the US AFTER 9/11, I searched American Airlines (I was flying AA) website to learn about the new security measures, and there was a link to TSA where I read about the locks. The poster could have done the exact same thing.


DSD December 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

I call BS. The airline would have just pointed out that the terms of travel on the airline clearly state YOU are responsible to adhear to all applicable security measures. Then told the poster to file away and that at the first hearing the case would be dismissed. It wouldn't cost them anything because they already employ lawyers; to take care of the piddly BS.


MJ December 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Agreed with MudMonkey. Ryan, please stop making non-douchey American's look bad and shut up.

But yeah, the OP just sounds like an idiot. This isn't something to complain on here about.


MudMonkey December 27, 2009 at 9:33 pm

@Ryan the Proud American: You are an embarrassment to your country and your trailer park community.

@ The Poster: In Europe all luggage shops sell tsa approved locks. I don’t know how you can’t know about this. It seems pretty elementary. No sympathy for your case.


Geoff December 28, 2009 at 4:12 am

This is standard TSA / Dept. of Homeland Security policy – you're required to use TSA compatible locks. If not, they WILL break your locks and WILL NOT reimburse you for the damage.

Complaining to the TSA officers is not going to get you anywhere – they do not make the policy, they only enforce it.

Additionally, the TSA will not contact you to open the bag. Think of the logistics: by the time they try to open the bag it is already in the sterile area, where you cannot be taken without a security background check and they're not able to bring the bag to you, either (nor the other one in three to ten passengers who's bags they randomly check).


meme December 28, 2009 at 10:27 am

Jeez, what just happened over Michigan? Go to TSA website for travel rules. It may be Osama's cousin next to you, and you are an idiot, yeah sue everyone.


Max December 28, 2009 at 7:31 pm

OP's fault for having a bag with a lock built in. Regulation states that the TSA can open any bad they damn well please, especially bulky and *Combination Locked* bags. I have my bulky, double-decker hiking bag checked all the time by the TSA, and they leave a note telling me it was inspected. Not that I agree with all regulations, but that's just the way it is.


Jim December 29, 2009 at 11:45 am

Well, maybe you should have been better prepared and studied up a little. I don't know how many times I have seen articles, and news stories on this very subject….how could you not know? Are you mentally challenged?

And, do you really expect security to hunt one specific person down to ask them a question about their luggage? Then Do you think they should hold the plane for you, while security looks at your luggage? What about delaying the plane, and the many other passengers which will miss connections, etc… oh, but that's all right…because the world revolves around you, and your uninformed self.

And really, we are supposed to believe that you threatened to sue the airline, and all was made good. I wonder how many times a day the airline hears that line from some self-centered blow-hard like you. The ticket agent/gate agent people really probably couldn't care less….they would say….go ahead, sue us…..


Luna August 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Stop being so bloody annoying!


Anya January 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Can't believe that in a country so well known internationally for its lawsuits, no one was able to contest this. Well done the OP for getting Luthansa to pay for the bags, as at least the last time I flew airlines ARE responsable for ANY AND ALL damage suffered while the baggage is in their care. If the americans don't have that rule, be glad you booked with an european carrier. 😉


Demotage January 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm


These things are actually covered by international convention. US carriers are also responsible for the bags while in their possession. However, there are always limits and gray areas. For instance, was the bag in the airline's possession when the damage was done? The lock was apparently broken by the TSA in accordance with their policy. That policy is publically available, and I think most everyone knows you either need a TSA approved lock, or to leave you bag unlocked.

Airlines also generally have policies for how much damage they will cover – these maximums are also set my international convention. The gray area is that they don't have to cover damage that is considered "normal wear and tear". In my experience, normal wear and tear includes having two wheels busted off and an entire corner of a hard suitcase caved in 8 inches. They told me "luggage is meant to protect the contents", which incidentally, they wouldn't cover if it didn't.


Anya January 5, 2010 at 10:02 am

Demotage: I do not know the TSA rules, as they are not important to me (have never flown outside of europe). However I do know of cases where luggage was damaged during security inspections, and the airlines paid for that damage. Whether or not the airline then filed for some compensation from security forces I have no idea, but they paid it for the costumer.

Of course, there's usually a labyrinth of paper-work and dead ends to go through for normal damage, I do not have details into how these situations worked themselves out.


Demotage January 5, 2010 at 10:49 am


It is certainly possible that the European airlines simply practice a higher level of customer service. With the notable exception of Ryan Air, I have found that to be true on intra-European flights. The service is just better than on US domestic flights. I'm just saying that I don't think they are required to do it.


Increasedosologist March 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

I am not sure how many people know about it, but lost/damaged luggage counters of the major airlines in the US have a storage room nearby, where they have a good selection of brand new, good quality luggage kept there specifically for the purpose of replacing damaged luggage. It takes very little convincing to get them to take you to that storage room and let you pick a replacement luggage, since that's what it is there for in the first place. You have to turn in your broken luggage and there is some paperwork, but you don't have to do that. The agent takes care of it.


Ron - St. Louis January 3, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I agree with the poster. These rules have done nothing to make airlines safer, it is just window dressing to make passenger's feel safer. When was the last time anyone heard of someone stopping a person with a bomb or a gun that intended to use it. If someone can blow up an airplane with 4 oz of toothpaste, I think a little more convenience and a tad more risk is warranted to keep us flying. We are at the point that we went from "flying anywhere that takes 4 hours to drive" to "only flying if it will take more than 12 hours to get there" and even then we will still consider driving if the weather is good.


Max January 3, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Ron, I understand how you may see it that way, but security (as tedious and unnecessary as it may seem) has likely done a lot to make airlines safer. Airport security is not just a system to find explosives and firearms, but it is a deterrent. You wouldn't consume cyanide if you knew it would kill you. This is the same principle. Terrorists may not commit acts of terror if they know there is a system in place that will catch them. If they get caught and put away, there is one less opportunity for something in their favor to be done.

And, addressing your "blow up an airplane with 4oz of toothpaste" comment, it's not the explosion of small magnitude to be worried about. The worrying thing about 4oz of material being ignited is the fire it can cause. And don't pull the "there are fire extinguishers on board" thing. It doesn't matter. Would you rather have an average flight to your destination, or a panic-stricken, slightly more crispy flight to your destination?


Corazon April 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

I am sorry, but it is the fault of the U.S. themselfes if they did not care about the security before 9/11. And to be honest they have become insane ever since. "It could be Osamas cousin sitting next to you" lol Those comments just make me laugh!

I have never been to the U.S. and to be honest I am not going to as I think everyone deserves the right to use wich ever security locks they want on their suit cases. Me personally, I use the locks with the codes as well. And whoever send this story, I agree with you and I would have done the same!!


Kirsten June 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

The easiest way for American flights to be made safer would be for America to stop bombing the shit out of other countries.


xxx March 30, 2013 at 12:32 am

way to go Americans for giving the TSA and homeland gestapo free run to harass whoever they want, do whatever they want with no consequences. Politicians make the rules, you vote in the politicians, therefore air travel sucking in the US is your fault..

you could do something about it, if you can squeeze your big asses out of your seats and put down your big macs


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