A gay couple from Virginia have lost a court case against Houston-based United/Continental Airlines after baggage handlers allegedly removed a sex toy from one of their checked bags, leaving on show before it went back on the carousel.

Christopher Bridgeman and Marin Borger claimed that the sex toy had been covered in a “foul-smelling lubricant” and taped to the top of the bag after a holiday in Costa Rica.

When their flight to Norfolk, Virginia landed, they say their bag came down the carousel, partially open, with the dildo showing and wrapped in clear plastic tape bearing the Continental logo.

The original lawsuit stated: “Because of the fact that the sex toy was contained in the bag of a male, and because the employee(s) responsible knew that the bag belonged to a male due to the name tag attached to the bag and the male clothing contained in the bag, there is a high likelihood that these egregious actions were directed towards [the] Plaintiffs because they are homosexual and because they are males.”

US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt dismissed the case saying that the the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, commonly known as the Montreal Convention, pre-empts the claims for damages related to the mishandling of luggage. The convention sets conditions and limits for the damages that passengers can seek and in this case the couple were not able to circumnavigate the limitations on damages related to the mishandling of luggage.