Man Claims TSA Agent Spilled His Grandfather’s Ashes During Security Screening

A man trying to bring his grandfather’s ashes home says a Transportation Security Administration agent not only opened the jar containing the remains, but then proceeded to root around in them and spill some on the floor. He was even more shocked when she laughed at him as he tried to scoop up what had spilled.

According to RTV6 News, the man was leaving Florida to head back to Indianapolis. He had a tightly sealed jar marked “Human Remains” and was going through security at the Orlando airport when an agent found the jar.

“They opened up my bag, and I told them, ‘Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes,'” he told the station. “She picked up the jar. She opened it up. I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it.”

TSA rules say human remains in crematory containers must pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint, and “under no circumstances will an officer open the container even if the passenger requests this be done.”

He says about a quarter to a third of what was inside spilled on the floor, and he tried to gather up as much as he could with a long line of antsy passengers behind him. The agent, meanwhile, was less than helpful, he claims.

“She didn’t apologize. She started laughing. I was on my hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn’t pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me.”

The man just wants the TSA to apologize now, especially the agent he had the encounter with.

“I want an apology,” he said. “I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me. I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this.”

Previously: Woman Claims Husband’s Ashes Went Missing After TSA Made Her Move Them To Checked Baggage

Confrontation With TSA Agent Leaves Grandpa’s Ashes On Floor [RTV6 News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    My grandfather would have had a hearty laugh if he knew this would have happened to his ashes. I remember the day when I was about 14 years old and he tried to ride my 10 speed; he got about 5 feet before falling down on his as*. I miss those days.

    Pours a 40 of prune juice for grandpa.

    • Coffee says:

      My grandpa had polio and was in a wheelchair. When I hear stories like yours, I can’t help but be a little angry at him.

    • VintageLydia says:

      At my husband’s grandmother’s funeral, the flower arraignment fell off the casket as they were bringing her up the aisle to the hearse. After a moment of silence, the entire family started cracking up in laughter. Some of the ladies from the nursery home gave us looks but they really didn’t know her that well. Grandma had a sense of humor that ran toward the morbid and would have thought it hilarious. Example: Her daughter (my husband’s aunt) passed away almost a year prior. She was being buried at the same cemetery Grandma’s late husband was buried at. “Where’s William?” she asked, and after being told she was sitting on top of him replied, “Oh! We never tried that position before!”

      • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

        She sounds like a lot of fun. I’m sorry she’s gone.

  2. Coffee says:

    Good god…that’s…that’s comically evil. Did she kick sand in his face too? Lick the ashes off her finger? Sleep with his girlfriend and run over his dog? Did she have a goatee, or perhaps a long mustache?

    • ChuckECheese says:

      TSA is hastening the apocalypse.

      • Taylor Rolyat says:

        And paradoxically, they’re managing to do a awesome job of delaying the apocalypse to proceed through the gate

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          The Four Horsemen were detained so their saddlebags could be searched and their steeds felt up with a freedom grope.

          • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

            Meanwhile Satan got through in full garb, pitchfork in hand.

            • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

              To be fair, he was the great white Satan, and is a large celebrity. Why wouldn’t we just pass him through?

  3. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    After spending billions and billions of dollars on equipment and staffing the TSA looks for a bomb by poking a finger around inside a jar?

    • ssevern says:

      Looking for dangerous explosive liquids. Which they will dispose of in the nearby trash bin for our safety.

      • Phred says:

        Yeah, you definitely gotta wonder about the logic in that.

      • Difdi says:

        Makes me tempted to try traveling with a jar of crystalline capsicum sometime (extreme hotsauce). One crystal on bare skin causes blistering, and it will eat through vinyl or latex gloves.

  4. dolemite says:

    Give people power and they abuse it. Might not be immediate, but put all the puzzle pieces into place for the government to snoop in your emails, web browsing, nude scanners, pat downs, property seizure/forfeiture to police, drone surveillance, etc., and the people they put into place to stomp on your rights will find ways to abuse it, and even laugh about it with no recourse to you.

    • Difdi says:

      No lawful recourse anyway. If someone did that to my grandather’s ashes, I would likely spend at least that night in jail, after rearranging the asshole’s dental work.

  5. eldergias says:

    Let me guess, the TSA agent won’t be fired. TSA needs to be disbanded and private airport security should be implemented.

    • matlock expressway says:

      “… and private airport security should be implemented.”

      I’m just as skeptical that private security would be able to do a better job, at least not a cost that any airport/agency/userbase would be willing to pay.

      • eldergias says:

        I *think* they would do a better job, but additionally we would be able to hold to company they work for accountable for inappropriate behavior. TSA agents are government workers, so it is very difficult to fire them.

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        If airlines or airports were made responsible for security screening (the way it was pre-TSA) They’d have to balance the needs of safety with keeping costs reasonable. Yes, the air traveler ultimately picks up the tab, but it still wouldn’t work from a cost benefit analysis to continue using expensive AIT machines and labor intensive passenger and luggage screenings.

        In fact, just go back to Pre-9/11 procedures: Put your carry-ons and any metal objects in your pockets through the Xray conveyor, you walk through the metal detector, retrieve your items and go to the gate! No shoe removal, no liquid restrictions, no nude-o-scopes, no gropings. Any dangerous items found in screening (bowie knives, guns, battle axes, etc.) are confiscated, but not the fairly benign ones (water bottles, breast milk, insulin pumps, etc) If someone cannot make it through the metal detector without setting it off (metal implants, back brace, etc.) the screener uses the handheld metal detector.

        The only post-9/11 procedure that makes sense to me are the locked, reinforced cockpit doors. No regulation was necessary to change the way passengers and flight crews respond to hijackers. bombers, or crazed passengers, flight attendants, and/or pilots… That person is getting tackled, hogtied, and probably kicked in the face a few times for good measure. First happening with United 93, and several times since.

        The private security apparatus would also be more effective through not being encumbered by bureaucratic oversight. Maybe those maintenance crews, food service, and other folks might need a little bit more vetting before hiring and screening before entering the airport. Perhaps running explosives-trained K9 patrols through the terminals would deter and detect would-be bombers quickly and cheaply.. Likewise allowing such K9 units to patrol the luggage loading areas would be much cheaper than massive scale hand inspection, and much lower liability by making their contents less susceptible to loss/theft/damage.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Worked fine until 9/11

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Depending on when this occurred, this may not have even actually been the TSA’s screwup. Orlando switched to a private security firm a couple weeks ago.

      I remember the announcement that this was going to happen because I read it on Consumerist.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        My mistake! I checked the Washington Post and this was another “We’re gonna switch, promise” story. TSA’s fault here.

        But I can tell you from experience that private security screeners aren’t what you think they’ll be. The longest delays I’ve ever dealt with were at airports with private screeners. They have even less incentive to do well because they make even less money and receive even fewer benefits.

  6. Bladerunner says:

    “I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this.”

    It’s the same logic the management at my company has:

    “Why? Because fuck you, that’s why.”

  7. Charles Edward Winthrop III, Esquire, Investigator of the Unknown Music says:

    You want an apology?


    You’ll take “extended screening” from now on every time you fly!
    And if you refuse to fly, the TSA will come to your house to grope you daily from now on!

    An apology! The nerve of some people!

  8. CalicoGal says:

    This complete waste of oxygen needs to be fired like, YESTERDAY.

    She is either a numbskull of epic proportions or an evil sociopath. Either way, she needs to not have anything to do with customer relations or “security.”

  9. eldergias says:

    As a member of a capitalists society, I am voting with my $$ by not flying and using other modes of transportation. It does mean I can’t go as far as fast, but enough people stop giving airlines money they will raise enough of a stink to have these policies changed. I will only fly now if I absolutely have to, and such a situation has never come up for me before. I hope enough people do this to change policy with their money.

    • Bladerunner says:

      Unfortunately, it’s not an option for a lot of folks who have family on opposite coasts. If I were to visit my brother in Vt, from Az, I’m either going to have to take an extra week off just for travel time, or fly.

      Now, that said, me and Mrs. Bladerunner do try to avoid when we can; our honeymoon’s going to be a road trip!

      • eldergias says:

        That is true. But if people cut what they could (i.e.- travel for fun/vacation) even if they kept family and business travel, I think there would still be a lot of hurt put on the airlines, and thus pressure they would put on the government.

        • Bladerunner says:

          …for bailouts, most likely.

        • amuro98 says:

          My family’s over 1000 miles away but at least that’s the same continent.

          Trying to go to Japan or England, on the other hand, is a bit difficult to do by car bus or train.

      • StarKillerX says:

        “Unfortunately, it’s not an option for a lot of folks who………….. ”

        Actually it’s still an option, it’s just choosing that option is inconvenient.

        If you only standing by your principles when it’s convenient then it shows they aren’t really important enough to you to bother.

        • axhandler1 says:

          So to go to my sister’s wedding in San Francisco, instead of taking two days off of work and flying there, I’d have to take two weeks off of work to drive there and back, not to mention spending more in gas than I would’ve on a plane ticket. You’re right, that would be inconvenient. You know, inconvenient might be an understatement now that I think about it.

          • DemosCat says:

            When we traveled from Atlanta to San Jose a few years ago, we went by Amtrak. You better believe it was a lot slower than flying, and the tickets actually cost more too. Rule of thumb: One hour by air is about one day by train, so for a 3-hour flight, figure the same distance by train as 3 days. But, train travel has its good points too.

            Travel by train is, in some ways, akin to going on a cruise on land. These are not commuter trains. Coach on a train has way more leg room than 1st class on a plane. There’s enough room for a passenger sitting by the window to get up and slip by the aisle seat without disturbing the occupant.

            If you get a roomet, you can sleep in a bed at night, and take a shower in the morning. Try doing that on a plane!

            • jamar0303 says:

              “Try doing that on a plane!”

              If you’ve got enough money to fly Emirates in First, you can.

          • StarKillerX says:

            Your free to choose whichever option you prefer, I’m simply pointing out that with all the hatred directed at the TSA few seem let it get the way of flying.

            All to often in our society people who opposed something want others to boycott it, but of course they themselve wont because it would be inconvenient for them.

            It’s sort of a broader version of the hollywood types flying to Washington on private jets and then stretch limos so they can testify in favor of things that will save gas. Oh sure they make sure everyone knows they own a hybrid prius, although it normally sits in a garage while they drive their hummer or other pigboat.

        • Bladerunner says:

          Or you could read the rest of the paragraph, where I make it clear that yes, it is technically possible, but not feasible. I don’t know about your job, but I don’t get enough time off and I sure as heck don’t get paid enough to take extra weeks off and spend the extra on gas on principle.

          And I think I made it quite clear that it was a choice…never see my family on the opposite coast, or fly. Those are the feasible options.

          “You robbed a bank when someone kidnapped your wife? You’re pretty much a thief, because if you only standing [sic] by your principles when it’s convenient then it shows they aren’t really important enough to you to bother.”

        • jamar0303 says:

          Show me a ferry across the Pacific and I’ll give it a shot.

    • Coffee says:

      I would honestly consider this is the price of gas didn’t make driving just as expensive as flying, if not more so. I’m going to see my girl in Indianapolis next month, for example. I live in Washington state, and the cost to drive, even in my car, which gets 30+ mpg, is more than the cost of airline tickets. As such, I’m not going to depreciate the value of my car, pay more, and waist a day of travel in both directions in order to prove a point.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Waist ≠ Waste

        The matrices have spoken.

        • Coffee says:

          I chat with the girlfriend online, and I think I expend so much energy not typing “/me puts his arms around your waist” that I really let myself go in other forums. Regardless, I am chagrined and rightly chastised.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Sadly, the TSA doesn’t appear upstaff or downstaff based on the volume of travelers. Just ask the three guards staffing the terminal I use on Monday afternoons.

      So, while I wish you luck, this may be a slowwww boycott.

      • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

        That should read “appear TO upstaff”.

        Whenever Consumerist decides to upgrade its comment system, I hope they’ll add an edit button. And not require me to dig up the password for my throwaway email account.

  10. Akuma Matata says:

    And in related news, politicians want to expand the TSA to all forms of mass-transit.

    The TSA needs to go away.

  11. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    A TSA agent groped some guy’s ashes? This is going TOO far!

    • humphrmi says:

      Man, I came here to say that. Well played. I’d only add “Even when you’re dead, the TSA wants to grope you.”

  12. Aliciaz777 says:

    The TSA sucks balls. I can’t imagine having to scoop up a loved one’s ashes in front of a long line of impatient people while being laughed at by the very person who spilled them. I honestly believe every word this man says, including the part about the agent laughing at him. These TSA assholes have no problem groping everyone, from children to the elderly, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all that this man was laughed at.

    I have a very strong feeling that, like always, the TSA will come out with some BS response about how the agent followed proper procedure and blah blah blah. Security theater, that’s all the TSA is. Every single news story that’s come out since 9/11 about someone freaking out on a plane has ended the same way every single time: the passengers stopped the situation quicker than you can say “The TSA is useless”.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I am sooo sick of seeing that same bullshit cop-out with all of these stories “The agent in question followed procedures.” Or something like that, when it goes against the rules written on their own stupid website. Fuck them with a rusty fork.

  13. jp7570-1 says:

    Having gone through Orlando too many times, it is my experience that their TSA checkpoint is one of the worst in the country While there are many many examples nationwide of truly unprofessional and just plain bad TSA checkpoints, at least in my travels, MCO ranks with the worst. Theme park tourists aside, MCO needs to vastly improve its procedures.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Garbage in, garbage out. The people of Orlando are great people, I’m sure. But the worst thing to have to deal with at the airport/in an airplane is a traveling family. I’d go insane working at that airport.

  14. Zelgadis says:

    Tangential to the point, but can someone explain to me why any sane human being would actually keep the charred remains of their dead loved ones? I have never understood that.

    • Vox Republica says:

      Scavenger hunt?

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Somewhere lurking on the internet is an article/story about someone who tried not claiming remains because they simply did not care what happened. (Presumably, the organs were harvested or deemed not to be viable first.) Essentially, it’s easier to do this than to tell the funeral home to dump it in the trash.

      And even if you and I have reality-based ideas of the importance of burnt wood that we’re supposed to pretend is human remains, do all of our family members? Probably not.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Transporting them someplace to spread them?

  15. mcgyver210 says:

    TSA & all the New initialed agencies are the real Threats to Freedom unfortunately so many of us put our heads in the sand it may be too late to regain our lost Freedoms.

    As far as I am concerned TSA is a FRAUD operated like a Mafia.

  16. Costner says:

    They should have video of the incident… if the video shows his story to be accurate then the employee should be fired for not only displaying incredibly poor customer service skills (as well as human compassion) but also for violating their very own policies.

    How hard is this to figure out?

  17. sir_eccles says:

    The only thing that surprises me about this story is that the TSA didn’t then shut down the airport and declare a hazmat emergency situation.

  18. NorthAlabama says:

    as long as the tsa just keeps it up, sooner or later there will be changes. i just hope it’s in my lifetime…

    • Danno23 says:

      Don’t count on it. I would have thought that we would have risen up against this treatment long before now. TSA will continue to treat us exactly as we allow them to.

      The fact that we continue to allow this to happen proves that we deserve it.

  19. frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

    He should have told that ignorant twat that he died of the Ebola virus and to run along and wash your hands so you don’t get sick.

  20. 808 says:

    Perhaps the agent was searching for a heart, since her actions showed her to be without one?

    By contrast, the care of TSA and flight attendants with lei I carried on for an out-of-state relative’s funeral were treated with care and compassion (as was I).

  21. JBlank912 says:

    That TSA agent should be fired and jailed. When I traveled with my father’s ashes, the TSA agent at West Palm Beach airport was extremely respectful. They took a wipe swab of the box to check for explosives and that was it. They did not open the container and apologized for having to do that. They even said they were sorry for my loss. They couldn’t have handled it better.

  22. HalOfBorg says:

    The end of “Rescue Me” flashed through my head reading this article.

    “Vortex” – and used it correctly. :)

  23. evilpete says:

    I’m looking forward to an update to this story..

  24. Danno23 says:

    I haven’t flown for 2 years because of crap like this, and I travel about 2 weeks out of the month for business. I just rent a car locally and drive wherever I need to go. Luckily I live in the middle of the US so I can get to just about anywhere I need to go within a 12 to 16 hour drive. Apart from not having to deal with the TSA, I find that it allows my schedule to be much more flexible.

    I stopped flying because I was terrified that I would get pushed over the limit and totally lose it on some TSA agent. I would probably get angry enough to throw my chicken sandwich at them.

  25. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    TSA hires the scum of the earth. To me, her actions were worth getting arrested for.

  26. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Obviously, the only solution is a government agency to watch over the TSA (Toss Some Ashes) because they usually make everything work better.

  27. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    — And so, Theodore Donald Karabatsos,
    in accordance with what we think
    your dying wishes might well have been,
    We commit your final mortal remains
    To the bosom of the pacific ocean,
    which you loved so well.
    Good night, sweet prince.
    — Shit.
    — Oh, shit, Dude, I’m sorry.
    — God damn wind.
    — God damn it, Walter.
    — You f*cking a$$hole!
    — Dude, I’m sorry.
    — Everything’s a f*cking travesty with you, man.

  28. FiorellaMajumdar says:

    Guess what? This guy is now going to find himself on the No Fly List or, at the very least, on the list for “enhanced” searches. The government holds grudges, especially an agency created by the Bush Administration.

  29. Jay K. says:

    Still waiting for TSA to catch their first terrorist…