I would like to avoid my suitcase being inspected to prevent loss and damage. Last time I took the airplane the TSA left a notice of baggage inspection in my suitcase. If I leave it in my suitcase in such a way that it is visible upon opening, can it help avoid being inspected next time I fly?

TSA notice of baggage inspection: TSA notice of baggage inspection

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    Perhaps I don't understand your question, but why do you think leaving such a notice in your bag will keep it from being inspected? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jan 11 '14 at 14:13
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    Inspectors may think it has already been inspected earlier? – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 11 '14 at 14:14
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    And which relevance should that have? The bag is inspected when being transferred from an unsecure to a secure area. Even if the bag has been expected previously, you may have had access to the bag in between and been able to change its content. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jan 11 '14 at 14:16
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    I have heard of people leaving an old parking ticket on the windshield to keep from getting more. I guess this is the same spirit but I would be surprised to learn it worked. – Kate Gregory Jan 11 '14 at 14:56
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    @KateGregory This works in NYC specifically because the traffic cops who write them could right about 10 in a single pass of one block and multiple officers pass the same block so one doesn't check to see whether another had already written a ticket the only thing is the ticket has to look pretty clean for this to work. – Karlson Jan 11 '14 at 16:57

So I am reading a blog on a TSA site, which describes though not in great detail the standard operating procedure for the inspection of the bags including an automated system that triggers the bag inspection. So if the inspection is warranted a human being will pull your bag and do a manual inspection and finds the notice inside the bag.

Now here is where it would get rather interesting. Since this inspection usually only occurs once during your travels unless you have to pick up your luggage and re-check it in the thought process is potentially two fold:

  1. Check the tag on the bag so may be this one was inspected elsewhere.
  2. This guy is trying to beat the system since he just checked the bag in for the flight so he might have something to hide.

And given the beating TSA has received over placing the notices into bags that have not been screened I would assume that you're going to be more likely to receive a body cavity search with placing a notice inside the bag rather then just leaving the bag as is.

P.S. Personally I would not buy anything particularly expensive to worry about it being damaged since it's more likely to get damaged if it falls off a loader. Plus please review the questions on this site related to Luggage


Loss or damage comes in two kinds: deliberate (also known as theft) and accidental. I suspect the vast majority of accidental damage to the contents of a suitcase, or to a suitcase resulting in loss of contents, happens when the suitcase is not open. It's dropped off a cart, or goes down a chute oddly. There's only a tiny chance that a TSA agent legitimately searching your bag will bump something and break it, or take something out and forget to put it back. They are both trained and supervised not to do that. That leaves theft. Setting aside the issue of whether those who steal from your luggage are more likely to be TSA people or baggage handlers, do you think there's any chance a thief would see that inspection slip and decide not to rifle through your bag looking for something to steal?

The slip may or may not save your bag from an inspection once it's been pulled aside and opened. But I think it will have no effect at all on the chances of loss or damage, so if that's actually what you're worried about, you need another plan.

  • Arguably, it would make theft more likely. If you really fooled a dishonest TSA inspector, then he would think that responsibility for missing contents might be shifted to the first inspector. – emory Jan 12 '14 at 13:17

If this worked, it'd be an ideal way for terrorists and smugglers to bypass security... It'd also mean that the TSA can magically look into your bag and read papers sitting inside them, at which point they'd no longer need to open them to know what's inside them.

Ergo, logic concludes that it's not going to work unless you're up against an incredibly stupid TSA worker (and no doubt they exist).
In fact, given the extremely paranoid nature of the entire agency, I'd venture to guess that the presence of the notice on opening a bag would peek their interest for an extra thorough search and get you flagged for a grilling at the boarding gate.

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