I was reading Brad Feld’s blog today and saw his post with a photo from La Guardia airport. I am stunned at the amazingly poor state of things with regards to flight and TSA policies. I am more stunned that it seems to be status quo, and not changing for the better. On Saturday Night Live last month, there was a great skit wherein they portrayed a TSA training session. When presented with rules such as “no liquids over 3oz” a trainee asked the (obvious) question, “what if two people get together with 3oz each? Is 6oz dangerous?”
When the liquid ban came into effect a couple of months ago, I was on a trip to Europe. I flew home via Stockholm airport, where they told me to put all my carry-ons in a clear plastic bag, otherwise they’d get confiscated in Frankfurt en route to the USA. Sure enough, I was the only guy walking around Frankfurt with a huge baggie full of my personal effects.
However on virtually every trip I have taken since that flight, my carryon bag contained multiple containers with liquids or gels (yes, I admit to grabbing shampoos from hotels, but only one per stay). My secret? Well, I’ve mastered the security system. Here’s what I do: when asked “got liquid?” I respond “no” and move along. Try it out, it works pretty well.
Last week, as my wife and I entered security in SFO and we placed our bags on the security belt, to my extreme chagrin she separated her makeup bag. Big no-no, but I couldn’t stop her in time. Sure enough, the TSA employee picked up the bag, and went through it. She found some makeup and lotion, and gave her three options: check it (nope), put it in a Ziploc bag (huh?), or chuck it out (gee, thanks).
I tried reason. I tried logic. To no avail. I politely (then again, slightly less politely) asked how the TSA could operate such a policy without providing a reasonable solution. Her oft-repeated answer: “all this information is available on our Web site” (not the official link). I must say, I felt quite a bit like Arthur Dent (the only hint for such a reference is it involves a bulldozer, the rest, dear reader, is up to you).
Kudos to Wal-Mart, US Airways, and whatever supervisor at La Guardia who did not actively prevent such a common sense solution to a stupid, self-imposed problem. Although I must say, knowing that mascara and facial cream can only be carried aboard a triple-7 inside a see-through Ziploc bag makes me feel safe, and I can only imagine it really drives fear into the hearts and minds of the terrorists.
I’m voting in the USA for the first time in my life this Tuesday, but it appears my ballot (yes on 87) doesn’t have any option to vote out such incompetence. Ah well, maybe in ’08.
The two biggest challenges/problems is that rules seem to change frequently and rules are selectively enforced. What’s true at one security checkpoint or one airport is often different from another. The point of the TSA was to help standardize and make things more consistent, but I’m not sure I see that happening. I also take offense that my tax dollars and airport security fees provide separate, shorter lines for first class passengers — government-endorsed discrimination?
PS, On my last flight my deodorant was confiscated. It was of the ‘stick’ variety which to one agent is a liquid or gel over three ounces. Whatever!