John Gross told the Orlando Sentinel the agent at Orlando International Airport added insult to injury by laughing as he tried to scoop up the cremated remains.
"I thought it was routine at first and then I thought, 'What the hell was she doing this for?'" Gross told the newspaper Tuesday. "I got upset. She was laughing right at me -- not a chuckle -- she was laughing."
Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail to the Sentinel the TSA had been unable to reach Gross or his family. She said "the circumstances as described in some reports are inconsistent with what we believe transpired."
Passengers are allowed to bring cremated remains with them. The TSA's written policy is that agents are never supposed to open containers even when a passenger wants them to.
Gross said he kept quiet because he was afraid of missing his flight or being put on a no-fly list. He acknowledged his grandfather, Mario "Marc" Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant and longtime Chicago Cubs fan who died in 2002 at the age of 91, could probably see the funny side.
"My grandpa I'm sure is up there in heaven laughing about this," he said. "I'm wondering who stepped in his ashes and where they are now. Maybe a little bit made it to Cubs' stadium. You've got to laugh about it but when you get down to it, it's not a laughing matter."