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New York Giants player AJ Francis is accusing the Transportation Security Administration of spilling his mother’s cremated remains inside his checked luggage.
On Monday, the NFL player tweeted a photo of the interior of his suitcase, which showed a slip indicating the TSA had searched his checked bag, along with what appeared to be his mother’s ashes scattered over his clothing.
Francis called out the agency in the tweet, saying in part that next time TSA officers “feel the need to go thru my mother’s ashes for no reason, make sure you close it back so her remains aren’t spilled on all my clothes.” The incident occurred at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The TSA, however, denied that its officers spilled the remains. A spokesperson for the agency told The Washington Post that video of the incident showed the agents inspecting the remains and the bag and returning the urn securely to its place in the luggage.
“Video review of the screening of Mr. Francis’ checked bag at Los Angeles International Airport shows that it alarmed for an unidentified object,” TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told the Post. “A TSA officer discovered the unidentified object was an opened, unmarked ceramic container, wrapped in tin foil inside a small bag. Upon further inspection of the checked bag, the container was loosely packaged, unmarked and the contents unknown to the TSA officer.”
“The TSA officer completed screening of the checked bag, clearing it to continue to its destination,” Farbstein added. “The container was carefully repacked and placed in the bag.”
After Francis’ initial tweets, the TSA also tweeted an apology to him.
1: We’re very sorry to hear about this. We understand the emotional stress travelers are under when transporting the remains of a loved one. Our policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with dignity, respect and courtesy.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) July 9, 2018
2: Our officers are trained to handle your carry-on and checked property with care. Out of respect for the deceased, under no circumstances should the container be opened. Please accept our apologies and our condolences. https://t.co/dlf0Ci6Fh3 https://t.co/wLxp0Wphg9
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) July 9, 2018
TPG reached out to the TSA for additional information, and we were referred to a blog post about the incident. In the post, the TSA recommended passengers traveling with cremated remains to put them in their carry-on bags.
“Travelers are allowed to travel with cremains in a checked bag, however it is recommended to do so in a carry-on bag to help protect the contents from the risks associated with checked baggage,” the blog post read. “Checked bags are subjected to rapid and sometimes rough movement along a series of conveyor belts as they make the trek to and from the aircraft. A little known fact is that checked bags are only in TSA’s possession for a fraction of their journey to the aircraft.”
Despite the apologies, Francis tweeted on Monday that the situation still felt “very raw.”
Featured image by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images.
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