Published Aug 17, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I traveled to Dallas, and, due to some confusion1 managed to leave my keys at security. Life with only the backup set of keys is, how shall we say, not worth living moderately inconvenient. Getting my keys back was easy enough once I figured out what to do, but it’s not obvious. Here’s how to get your stuff back from the TSA.2

First, you can try calling them. They keep their contact numbers on this page. I found the LAX voicemail to be full. I also found the e-mail address that the LAX voicemail pointed me to does not exist. So, instead, I e-mailed their main address,, with a description of the keys I’d lost. Within three days they’d called me back to talk to me about how to pick up my keys.3

The next step was to get to their location at 5757 W. Century Blvd., in the row of hotels on Century as you head towards LAX. After circling the block a couple of times and not seeing the address, I pulled into a gas station to ask for directions and saw a guy in a TSA uniform right in front of me, so I just asked him. He was very helpful and told me exactly where the place was — in an office building directly after the Hilton hotel.

The trick, near as I can tell it, is not to look for the unlabeled entrance to the parking lot but to go around back to the labeled parking entrance for next door. Drive down past the Marriott and take a right onto Airport Blvd., then your first right onto 98th St. You’ll see an entrance for the parking for 5777 W. Century Blvd; take that, and drive past the enticing sign for the Valet to where it says “5757 W. Century Guest Parking.” Find yourself a spot, take the elevator to the ground floor, walk towards the guard station and then take a right around it. The Lost & Found is in Suite GF06,4 an unlabeled set of double doors with a “let me in!” button next to it, on your right. They’ll buzz you right in and be right with you, with a smile, when you get inside.

While waiting for them to recover your items, I highly recommend you check out their display case filled with confiscated items. This great tourist attraction shows you just what today’s brightest travelers planned to take on their flights, including:

  • A remarkably realistic pellet gun
  • Diamond-studded brass knuckles
  • A grenade-shaped mens’ cologne mister
  • Throwing stars
  • A samurai sword

So lose something, and drop on by! Every single TSA person was wonderful to me. And, if you lose something in some other city’s airport, don’t give up hope; as I learned from an overheard phone conversation, if you provide them with a FedEx number, they’ll send your found item anywhere in the country. Given how fast security has been the last few times I’ve flown, and the depths to which service in our airlines has fallen,5 I’m about ready to say that security is the best part of any flying experience.6

1 The guy in front of me couldn’t take all of his metal objects off at once, so they ended up interspersed with several others’ items and I managed to forget I had another tray coming through the x-ray. It’s always an adventure, folks.

2 This is only true for things you leave at security, not for lost bags. If you bother the TSA with your lost bags, they will single you out for special inspection at all future border crossings and the entrance to all Mexican Cantinas and Irish Pubs.

3 It may be that a couple of calls from the AIG telling them how much I missed my keys and how alone I felt without them sealed the deal.

4 As opposed to the Lost & Found, one of my favorite Westside dive bars.

5 I’m talking to you, USAir, who wanted to sell me water for $2 and made us pay for checking just 1 bag between the two of us!

6 Except, perhaps, for the Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket that the AIG’s mom gave me for Christmas!


Was the last link, in footnote 6, supposed to be something else? It’s a duplicate of the TSA video…

Good catch; fixed!

Regarding footnote 5: From my experience it never, ever hurts to throw in a human element when asking for someone’s help. A message such as, “please, oh, please TSA personnel, I would so appreciate it if you could call my boyfriend back about his lost keys. He can’t move his car and it’s going to be really, really bad if he doesn’t have his keys before this weekend. We’ll come right on over to pick them up, as soon as you call back. Thank you, oh so much, TSA personnel, for all of your help.”

Now, some may say, “he can’t move his car” and “I won’t get to lounge by his parent’s lovely pool” are two different scenarios…but I say, whatever it takes to make ‘em call you back.

Ack — the previous comment was in reference to footnote number three.

But since I brought up footnote number five: if you’re cheap, like me, and fly several times a month, like me, then might I suggest traveling with an empty water bottle? Simply fill it up once you’ve passed through security and you’ve got sweet, sweet hydration for far less than the going airport rate of $5.95/serving. I’ve done this for months and am richer and better hydrated for it.