A gay couple is suing United-Continental Airlines after airport staff allegedly removed a dildo from their checked luggage and taped it to the top of their bags then sent it down the baggage pickup carousel.

Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger, from Virginia, believe they were targeted for humiliation by baggage handlers because of their sexuality.

They are seeking damages from the airline for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

The ?mortifying? incident allegedly occurred in May 2011 when Mr Bridgeman and Mr Borger were returning from a holiday in Costa Rica to their home of Norfolk, Virginia.

The couple, who have been together for nine years, had a 90-minute stop-off at George Bush International Airport in Houston to catch a connecting flight.

They collected their bags in Houston, passed through customs and then rechecked them for their flight to Virginia.

But when they came to reclaim their cases at Norfolk International airport, the defaced bag appeared on the carousel in front of other passengers from their flight.

?I was shocked, humiliated, embarrassed, horrified and confused because I didn?t know what to do,? Mr Borger, 35, told the New York Daily News.

The purple sex toy had been removed from the bag and smeared with a ?greasy, foul-smelling substance? and ?taped prominently? to the top of the case with Continental Airlines branded tape, according to lawsuit documents.

Mr Bridgeman, 34, added: ?To see all the expressions and how [people] were looking at us, we really felt completely powerless.?

The couple say there was no reason for the sex toy to have been removed and believe baggage handlers tampered with the case because there was a man?s name on the luggage tag.

United Airlines said that it conducted an investigation into the incident and found ?no support? for the couple?s claims, the New York Daily News reported.

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