Saturday, May 9, 2009

TSA Urban Legends (Nail Clippers, Knitting Needles and Corkscrews)

Bigfoot is probably one of the best known urban legends, but nail clippers, knitting needles and corkscrews are probably the most believed.

Some time ago, someone out there spread a nasty rumor about us, that lead many of today's passengers to believe that we don't allow any of those three items. The facts though, contradict the myth.

Knitting needles, carried by grandma, Mrs. Claus or Jeremy down the street are permitted. Plastic, metal, clay, titanium... Whatever... Permitted.

Corkscrews are a little tricky, but also permitted. Let's be clear, corkscrews without knives. We know many corkscrews have the little knife that help cut the metal wrapping on a bottle, those are not allowed, but the little corkscrews with no knife are. Clear? No? Let's try this.

Fancy schmancy corkscrews with knives, no. Cheap corkscrews with no knife, yes.

Lastly, nail clippers. I can't even count the number of times I have heard or seen this... Totally not true. Way back when, 2001, pre-TSA, post 9-11, nail clippers were prohibited, probably an immediate reaction to the events of that day. However, when we came along, we changed the list, allowed nail clippers, but still get accused of being pro-long finger nail. Totally not true.
Trim those nails, in flight if you want, just be sure the passenger sitting next to you doesn't mind a flying hang nail.... Oh yeah, no blades on nail clippers either. Nail files on the other hand are OK.

So to sum up, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink wine, knit and clip your nails, you are free to do all three in flight... So long as you don't have any blades.

Nico

EoS Blog Team

113 comments:

Miller said...

A puff post when so many questions go unanswered. We don't forget.

Anonymous said...

Love the Blog. Who knew TSA had a sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

Nail clippers were still being taken as far out as 2003. So even if we (I work for TSA) did change the policy, a lot of screeners didn't get the message til later.

Not allowing a 3 inch knife on a corkscrew, but allowing a foot long titanium knitting needle is simply... how to say this with out using a bad word...bleeping crazy. A foot long sharp metal stick is a much more effective weapon than a little kitchen tool.

But...but..but you say, the 9/11 hijackers used small knives.

MarkVII said...

I'd like to see the TSA address its internal urban legends. A couple of recent examples come to mind.

First, try Dunstan's May 7, 2009 5:37 PM post from the "What does a terrorist look like" topic. Friends of his ran into trouble because their 3-1-1 bottles didn't have factory labels. Is this truly a requirement or not? This issue has been raised repeatedly, but obviously not solved.

Trying to find out the answer, I went to the 3-1-1 page on the TSA web site (http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm) and found this:

3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 oz. container size is a security measure.Somebody show me the labeling requirement, please.Secondly, there's the issue of having to show ID to receive a comment card. Go back to the "What In the Heck Does That Person Do: TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)" topic (http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2009_04_01_archive.html) Blogger Bob asked "Some of our readers in the past have posted comments stating that they were required to show a supervisor their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Should this happen?" Paul's response was "Not that I’m aware of."

This is a simple yes/no question that's been asked multiple times, and "not that I'm aware of" is the best answer Paul can provide? Instead of mealy-mouth PR speak, how about a solid answer?

If I had been in Kip Hawley's place, I'd have ended the practice of asking for ID to receive a comment card with one quick stroke of the pen, and implemented significant consequences for violations.

Why can't we have a simple yes/no answer to whether one has to show ID to receive a comment card?I could go on with other examples, but I'll stop with these two.

Mark

Anonymous said...

"So to sum up, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink wine, knit and clip your nails, you are free to do all three in flight... So long as you don't have any blades."

Except for the concept that there are 100 ml (or less)wine bottles with corks, which makes it unlikely that someone actually needs a corkscrew in flight. Nice puppy post, Bob, and glad the conference didn't ruin your sense of humor.

Anonymous said...

"Lastly, nail clippers. I can't even count the number of times I have heard or seen this... Totally not true. Way back when, 2001, pre-TSA, post 9-11, nail clippers were prohibited, probably an immediate reaction to the events of that day."

One item on a long list of uselessly
prohibited items is OK, maybe TSA could give the rest of the list some further consideration?

TSm, Been here.... said...

And please DO NOT show up at the Checkpoint and say "I didn't realize there was a blade on my nail clipper (or corkscrew)." and ask us to break off the blade so you can take the rest of the item. I have seen TSOs do this. We had a TSO get a blade in the eye because he snapped off the blade so the passenger could keep his $200 corkscrew. It wasn't worth the hospital visit. TSOs take note.

Brendan said...

Or maybe you could, you know, NOT clip your nails anywhere on an airplane, EVER. Because that is gross. :)

George said...

Thanks for "officially" debunking the "urban legends." But I have no doubt that some passengers who carry these items will get to a checkpoint and be surprised when the TSO declares one or more of them "prohibited," and cuts off any protests with the TSA-standard "Do you want to fly today?"

And that's the continually-repeated complaint that never seems to be resolved: No matter what it says on tsa.gov (or in Bob's blog posts), we're bound to encounter some TSO who enforces or "interprets" the rules in "unpredictable" ways that cause passengers needless distress while doing nothing for security. Despite all the complaints and the talk of "quality improvement," we still see reports of TSOs enforcing unpublished "rules" requiring that bottles in Freedom Baggies bear manufacturer labels, or that prescription drugs be in bottles with official pharmacy labels. The fact that these incidents continue to occur can only suggest that the TSA encourages such behavior, or at least condones it by not taking effective measures to end it.

As long as the rules are secret, and even the published "guidelines" have an escape clause allowing TSOs to do anything they want, passengers will always be subject to the needless "voluntary abandonment" of their property. Even if passengers carry copies of tsa.gov and blog postings, the TSO has unlimited authority to dismiss it with "Do you want to fly today?" And there's almost nothing a passenger can really do about that, since we have no way of knowing if anyone even reads the official feedback forms, let alone institutes corrective action.

Mandalyn said...

So you're saying the liquids ban is lifted? I mean, you said we can drink wine on board using our corkscrews. And, well, the wine you buy on board does not require opening with a corkscrew. Wow, what great news!

It's rather amazing you let through knitting needles, corkscrews, and nail files that can easily pierce the jugular, but that darn factory-sealed bottle of Diet Pepsi is a dangerous substance!

The guv'ment never ceases to amaze me in its "rationality."

Mr. Gel-pack said...

Way back on the knives/inconsistencies post, I wrote about TSA confiscating my swiss army knifes where I first rounded off and then ground off the blade.

So what if your website and blog says that non-knives are permitted, but it hasn't been true in practice. TSA says one thing, but its bad-apple TSOs do another because of your management and training.

Also, at least on of your international "partners" do prohibit knitting needles: New Zealand.

Anonymous said...

We'll skip the fact that you have prohibited all of these at various times as the why there is an 'urban legend', and concentrate on what you choose to: 3/4" blades in other items. Why are those prohibited but a sharp corkscrew capable of far more damage (imagine pushing it into your chest and pulling straight out!) not a problem but really short blades are? Especially when shanks are so easy to make with things allowed onto a plane?

Anonymous said...

Do you remember when TSA made the logical (for once) decision to allow scissors? Why didn't they allow knives too? The TSA wanted to allow knives, but it is a public perception issue.

To the public scissors are tools you cut paper with.

Knives are things you cut people with.

I don't agree with that, but that is the way the public sees it.

Google what the flight attendants union had to say when TSA allowed scissors. They screemed that there would be BLOOD flowing through the aisles.

I have talked with many screeners in line and my cousin is a screener. He says that almost all screeners want small knives to be permissable, but it is a perception issue and congress will not allow it.

Write your congress critters.

Anonymous said...

So my corkscrew with it's 1.5", relatively dull blade with a blunt tip is out. But my pair of scissors with their pair of sharp 3.5" blades and a pointed tip are OK? Or my 7" screwdriver with it's sharp tip - that's ones OK too.

And you wonder why there's confusion... Seriously, how is the tiny knife on a corkscrew more of an issue than a 4" pair of scissors?

Anonymous said...

So how long will it take for you guys to figure out that prohibiting toothpaste is as sill as, say, prohibiting nail clippers???

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but it's not a myth or urban legend if your TSOs can and do determine that these particular permitted items are somehow dangerous and not permitted.

The printable prohibited items list says:
"In addition, the TSO may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint."


You can debunk this "urban legend" only if you can prove that no TSO has ever confiscated a corkscrew, knitting needle, or fingernail clipper. Can you prove that?

Anonymous said...

MarkVII wrote:
"Friends of his ran into trouble because their 3-1-1 bottles didn't have factory labels. Is this truly a requirement or not? This issue has been raised repeatedly, but obviously not solved.
"Some of our readers in the past have posted comments stating that they were required to show a supervisor their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Should this happen?" Paul's response was "Not that I’m aware of."
***********************************
Labels are not required but there may be some confusion over the size of the container if not factory labeled.
You should never be required to show your ID to obtain a comment card. You can log onto "Got Feedback" on the TSA website if they refuse to give you a comment card without seeing an ID.

MR. Gel-Pack wrote:
"Also, at least on of your international "partners" do prohibit knitting needles: New Zealand."
*********************************
However New Zealand did allow knives on domestic flights with under 50 passengers until a pilot was stabbed repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

Did you guys even read what's on your own web site? This knitting needle post is completely contrary to your prohibited items guide!!!!


http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1252.shtm

Transporting Knitting Needles & Needlepoint
Traveling with Special Items

Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage. However, there is a possibility that the needles can be perceived as a possible weapon by one of our Security Officers. Our Security Officers have the authority to determine if an item could be used as a weapon and may not allow said item to pass through security. We recommend the following when bringing knitting needles on an airplane:

Circular knitting needles are recommended to be less than 31 inches in total length We recommend that the needles be made of bamboo or plastic (Not Metal) Scissors must have blunt points
In case a Security Officer does not allow your knitting tools through security it is recommended that you carry a self addressed envelope so that you can mail your tools back to yourself as opposed to surrendering them at the security check point.
i.e., "your knitting needles may or may not be permissible past the checkpoint, especially if they are metal, and as always, are subject to the random TSO interpretation of the day."

The amount of conflicting information put out by the TSA is unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

" TSm, Been here.... said...

And please DO NOT show up at the Checkpoint and say "I didn't realize there was a blade on my nail clipper (or corkscrew)." and ask us to break off the blade so you can take the rest of the item. I have seen TSOs do this. We had a TSO get a blade in the eye because he snapped off the blade so the passenger could keep his $200 corkscrew. It wasn't worth the hospital visit. TSOs take note."

Wow, excellent marksmanship. Just goes to show "No good deed goes unpunished".

Anonymous said...

3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 oz. container size is a security measure.Somebody show me the labeling requirement, please.Secondly, there's the issue of having to show ID to receive a comment card. Go back to the "What In the Heck Does That Person Do: TSA Customer Support & Quality Improvement Manager (CSQIM)" topic (http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2009_04_01_archive.html) Blogger Bob asked "Some of our readers in the past have posted comments stating that they were required to show a supervisor their ID prior to receiving a comment card. Should this happen?" Paul's response was "Not that I’m aware of."
___________________________________

Hi TSO here. First of all, if a bottle is not labled and the TSO is unsure of the size of the bottle, then they are probably going to get rid of it. Its a judgement call. Now most people purchase these little travel size bottles that are obviously small enough. There is no label.
When I first started with TSA, my co-workers told me that unmarked bottles were not allowed. So I took them for a while. I thought that I was doing my job correctly. Well after a while I began to realize that it was rediculous and I started leaving these items alone. After looking at 3-3.4 oz bottles day in and day out, I know what they look like.
Sorry this is just my opinion. I can't even give an answer to this question. Which is embarrassing because it is my job.

Anonymous said...

Except for the concept that there are 100 ml (or less)wine bottles with corks, which makes it unlikely that someone actually needs a corkscrew in flight. Nice puppy post, Bob, and glad the conference didn't ruin your sense of humor.
___________________________________

Even though someone can not bring a bottle of wine through the checkpoint, people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe you could, you know, NOT clip your nails anywhere on an airplane, EVER. Because that is gross. :)
___________________________________

To take this even further..... My finger and toe nail clippers do not leave my bathroom. It amazes me how many people travel with clippers in their bags and even in their pockets. I don't know how fast you peoples nails grow, but if I was going on vacation I would clip my nails at home before I went and that is where my clippers would stay. So yeah you can bring them, but why would you want to!

Anonymous said...

Mandalyn said...
So you're saying the liquids ban is lifted? I mean, you said we can drink wine on board using our corkscrews. And, well, the wine you buy on board does not require opening with a corkscrew. Wow, what great news!

It's rather amazing you let through knitting needles, corkscrews, and nail files that can easily pierce the jugular, but that darn factory-sealed bottle of Diet Pepsi is a dangerous substance!

The guv'ment never ceases to amaze me in its "rationality."
___________________________________


Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

Ayn R. Key said...

Are these now "urban legends" because the rules against them have been quitely repealed?

That's not the definition of an urban legend.

Anonymous said...

Hello
On another travel site, a TSO reported a change in your procedures that will take place on May 13. The change concerns how shoes are sent through the X-ray. According to the TSO, all airports will require shoes to go through the X-ray outside of the bins. Is this correct? Wouldn't this blog be one way of deciminating this information?

Anonymous said...

Mandalyn snarked...

...but that darn factory-sealed bottle of Diet Pepsi is a dangerous substance!


Well Mandalyn, Your diet pepsi may not pose a threat to the aircraft, but Aspartame (main sweetener) has been linked to brain tumors and lymphoma. maybe you should put leave your pepsi at the checkpoint.

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes:

Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.

If that's the threat you're concerned about, then why can passengers buy bottled beverages, of unlimited size, inside the sterile area? After all, a terrorist could've tampered with any of those bottles in exactly the same way.

RB said...

I think the larger Urban Legend is that TSA has anything to do with security.

Anonymous said...

"There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"


And yet, every day, thousands and thousands of "sealed" bottles are allowed into the "sterile" area of every airport in the nation without any screening.

TSA apologists never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

RB said...

Anonymous said...
___________________________________

Even though someone can not bring a bottle of wine through the checkpoint, people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.May 11, 2009 2:23 PM

........................."We take at least one every single day"
..............................
So much for the claim that TSA never takes anything.

Even TSA's own employees state that they take things from travelers.

Dunstan said...

Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There "for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

May 11, 2009 2:41 PM"

Lets review your scenario...

Terrorist retirement plan:

1)Buy winery with funding from people with similar viewpoint.
2) Run winery, grow grapes, design labels and packaging, win a few tastings so as to have a perfect cover.
3) Fill a few wine bottles with liquid explosives, smuggle to target.
4) Mission accomplished!
5) Retire to winery.

Wow, how simple you make seem.

Anonymous said...

Nico,

Would you be so kind as to point out how your humorous post regarding "Knitting needles, carried by grandma, Mrs. Claus or Jeremy down the street are permitted. Plastic, metal, clay, titanium... Whatever... Permitted." seems to be in direct contradiction to the link you posted?

Your link to the posted policy states "We recommend that the needles be made of bamboo or plastic (Not Metal)" and "there is a possibility that the needles can be perceived as a possible weapon by one of our Security Officers. Our Security Officers have the authority to determine if an item could be used as a weapon and may not allow said item to pass through security."

Why the difference? This is the stuff that gets travellers so frustrated and confused with TSA policy.

Anonymous said...

"Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way."

A link, please. While you're at it, a link to any peer-reviewed independent research that supports TSA's pointless war on liquids would be nice, too.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

****
Perhaps you could explain to me how the TSA inspects all of the soda and bottled water that are sold in the sterile sections of the airport. With your rationality it wouldn't take much for a terrorist to insert a couple of liquid explosive bombs into a delivery truck

NoClu said...

Anonymous said....

Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

May 11, 2009 2:41 PM

Dear Anonymous,
Really? Can you link me to a peer reviewed article that provides evidence that this is a credible threat? If said "something else" has been proven to be so dangerous, why are samples of 100ml or less allowed on every flight. Heck, I can get about 8 mini bottles in one Kippie Security Baggie, that means just short of a litre of "something else" that can be carried on. Seems if this scary "something else" is so dangerous I shouldn't have any of it on a plane.

Meh. This blog isn't as fun as it used to be.

Bob, a credible review of the Liquid Restriction may be in order... especially when we're talking urban legends.

Mandalyn said...

Wow, okay, so one of the billions of terrorists out there could poke a tiny hole in a Diet Pepsi bottle, use the ***we have PROOF we can't tell you about*** explosives that look just like Diet Pepsi - carbonation and all, cover the hole with an undetectable substance to prevent leakage, and blow up an aircraft. I'm amazed. We just can't take that chance. But, we can take the chance that some nutcase goes crazy, grabs gramma's knitting needles, and starts jabbing people in prone areas.

Tell me, Anonymous, were you one of those cautious people that stocked up on duct tape and garbage bags after 9/11 because we were all doomed from imminent chemical attacks?

With all the publicized bird "attacks" on aircraft, are birds and other wildlife going to be put on the no-fly list? There's so many cases of crazy people on Greyhound raping and killing (even eating) other passengers. Is that your next move? Oh, wait, I think it is.

And back to that Diet Pepsi - if the technology is there, what prevents the billions of terrorists who are just steps away from taking down an aircraft with the PROVEN method of liquid bombs from infiltrating beverage suppliers going to the airports? What makes a pallet delivery safer than my own personal bottle? I posted on the last post about the mechanics who potentially shouldn't be licensed. Many had the same anonymous P.O. Box address. They work for airlines, at airports, and do not get screened daily. How do you explain that theory away?

[/snark]

Isaac_Newton said...

An Anonymous TSA person at May 11, 2009 2:23 PM said:

... people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.Anonymous, did you even read the post you're replying to? Corkscrews are allowed! Why are you taking them "every single day"? Do you understand the meaning of "allowed"?

Bob, here's one already who didn't get the memo. And you wonder why we have no respect for your policies or your training!

Irish said...

Slow week, Bob?

Thought I'd take advantage and once again ask those questions on my personal agenda that haven't been answered:

Suppose I’m at the checkpoint, and a TSO asks me about that big bunch of American money in my carry-on?
Suppose by some bizarre conjunction of the stars I take leave of my senses and disclose to the nosy TSO, "Oh, that’s the $9,950 I'm going to use to buy a wonderous objet d'art."
Are you going to take my word for it, or am I going to be subject to additional screening?
Suppose I'm en route to Australia and I say "Oh, that’s the $11,500 I'm going to gift my dear gray-haired mother during my layover at LAX so she can pay off her cute little seaside house."
Going to insist I fill out a Customs form?
Why?
Going to report me to Customs?
Why?
Suppose I say, as politely as I possibly can and with a charmingly sweet and appealing smile, "I really prefer not to discuss my finances but, just to set your mind at ease, it's certainly less than $10,000."
Are you going to take my word for it, or am I going to be subject to additional screening?
Why?
Suppose I say, in a very neutral tone, “I really prefer not to discuss my finances with you.”
Are you going to take my word for it, or am I going to be subject to additional screening?

Irish

Irish said...

And another one . . .

Is the REAL "option" at the checkpoint Virtual Strip Search vs Magnetometer + Pat Down?

Are small children required to submit to a pat down if they are not subjected to the Virtual Strip Search?

Irish

Anonymous said...

Nico said...Some time ago, someone out there spread a nasty rumor about us, that lead many of today's passengers to believe that we don't allow any of those three items. The facts though, contradict the myth. __________________________________

Well, let's take a look at the facts. Thanks to the wonder of the internet archive, corkscrews were prohibited by the TSA some time ago.

The following items will not be allowed through the security checkpoint. Please note that this list is not all-inclusive. In addition to items specifically listed here, other items that may be deemed to present a potential threat may also be prohibited. ...
Cattle prods
Compressed air guns
Corkscrews Cricket bats
Crow bars ...

Passengers should be aware that there are no provisions for returning banned items to them when they are left at the security checkpoint. In addition, those who attempt to bring banned items through the checkpoints are subject to civil penalties of up to $1,100 per violation in addition to criminal penalties. http://web.archive.org/web/20020916225804/www.tsa.gov/trav_consumers/aircraft_prohibit.shtm

But now, we wouldn't want the facts to get in the way of sarcasm and nasty "big foot" urban legends, now, would we?

Anonymous said...

And yet, every day, thousands and thousands of "sealed" bottles are allowed into the "sterile" area of every airport in the nation without any screening.

TSA apologists never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"
___________________________________

Do you work at the airport? I didn't think so. There are no deliveries that do not go through the checkpoint at our airport. I know this for a fact. So whatever it is that you are refering to, maybe you could elaberate.

Anonymous said...

An Anonymous TSA person at May 11, 2009 2:23 PM said:

... people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.Anonymous, did you even read the post you're replying to? Corkscrews are allowed! Why are you taking them "every single day"? Do you understand the meaning of "allowed"?
___________________________________

And another. Like it said in the posting. Knives are not allowed. Obviously the corkscrews that are "surrendered" have knives. I don't know why i waiste my energy responding to these.

RB said...

Did you know that with the liquid explosives that the terrorists have gone as far as to empty liquid from a bottle with a syringe and put something else back in the same way. With a tiny little undetectible sealant. There for Madalyn, your bottle, sealed or not sealed, makes no difference.
And do you think that with the funds and technology out there supporting the terrorist that they could not purchase a bottle sealer of their very own!!!!!!!!!!

The passengers never cease to amaze me in their "rationality"

May 11, 2009 2:41 PM

.......................
So how many airport workers bring sealed uninspected bottles of whatever beverage in their lunch bags into the secure area daily?

Why are these ok not to inspect?

TSA never cease to amaze me in its "rationality".

George said...

@Anonymous TSO, May 11, 2009 2:19 PM: "When I first started with TSA, my co-workers told me that unmarked bottles were not allowed. So I took them for a while. I thought that I was doing my job correctly. Well after a while I began to realize that it was rediculous and I started leaving these items alone."

Thanks for confirming what I have long suspected. There seems to be a serious systemic failure in the training of TSOs. When even TSOs don't know the official rules, but instead rely on folklore from colleagues who are themselves making up things to fill in the gaps, you'll have the maddening arbitrariness and inconsistency that so many of us complain about. The needless frustration it causes passengers is well known, but what is less known is the effect this failure has on the TSA's ability to accomplish their mission. That can't benefit security, notwithstanding Kip's valiant attempts to spin "unpredictability" into a "security strategy."

Now that I think of it, a lot of the problem stems from the War On Liquids. It could be that the TSA leadership considered the "3-1-1" (or is that "3.4-1-1"?) rules so brilliantly simple, elegant, and foolproof that they believed it didn't need extensive training. But once it was deployed in the real world of airports and passengers, "3-1-1" proved to be far less foolproof than it seemed in those classified briefings at Headquarters. So TSOs were left to "interpret" it as they saw fit, relying on folklore and their own guesswork in the absence of official specific guidance. Some TSO somewhere apparently decided that prohibiting unlabeled bottles would make their job easier. So that became a "rule" applied to any passengers unlucky enough to be screened by that TSO. And it eventually became a "rule" enforced wherever a TSO heard about it and thought it was a good idea.

I commend you for having enough common sense to realize that prohibiting small unlabeled bottles is ridiculous. Unfortunately, it seems that not all TSOs (including your co-workers) have that much common sense. We all have to suffer needlessly as a result. (And by the way, weren't you aware that TSOs absolutely never "take" anything from passengers? You work with passengers to help them choose the best option from a wide range of possibilities, one of which is voluntary abandonment of the item. I learned that from reading this blog!)

So Bob, West, Tim.... what is the TSA going to do about this systemic failure now that it's been exposed?

George said...

@Anonymous, May 12, 2009 2:57 PM: "Perhaps you could explain to me how the TSA inspects all of the soda and bottled water that are sold in the sterile sections of the airport. With your rationality it wouldn't take much for a terrorist to insert a couple of liquid explosive bombs into a delivery truck"

Although I have no connection with the TSA, I can answer that question based on having observed such an inspection.

I once waited at an uncrowded checkpoint as an employee of the concessionaire in the sterile area passed cases of bottled water and soda through the very same x-ray machine the TSOs use for screening our carry-ons, shoes, and Freedom Baggies. A rather bored-looking TSO peered at the screen as the boxes went by. As the boxes emerged from the x-ray, another employee collected them onto a cart. Only after they rolled the cart away was I allowed to enter the checkpoint.

Although nobody made any attempt to prevent me from watching the entire spectacle, this was one of those times when I knew it was best to emulate that monkey who saw no evil. Asking the very obvious questions would only have got me in very big trouble. I'll only say that it gave me one more reason to doubt the value and efficacy of the War On Liquids, at least as the TSA currently implements it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Even though someone can not bring a bottle of wine through the checkpoint, people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.

May 11, 2009 2:23 PM

-----

You are absolutely incorrect. Corkscrews ARE NOT in the prohib. list UNLESS there is a blade with it. READ your SOP or tsa.gov

Tomas said...

Guess I need to post a comment here so I can get updates via email of other's updates - some of them are getting interesting.

BTW, are the actual official TSA posts screened and verified for accuracy?

If they are, and disagree with other official TSA output, which takes precedence?

When such disagreements in official TSA writings are brought to TSA's attention, how long should we expect it to take for an official public reconciliation of the differing statements?

Thanks,
Tom (1 of 5-6)

HappyToHelp said...

This comes up often at the checkpoint. I'm glad there is a blog post about it.

-Tim “H2H”

EoS Blog Team

Ayn R. Key said...

NoClu wrote:
Bob, a credible review of the Liquid Restriction may be in order... especially when we're talking urban legends.
Bravo NoClu.

Ayn R. Key said...

I wonder another thing about the definition of urban legend being used here.

If it is not TSA policy to confiscate something, but the front line TSOs regularly do take that something, is it an urban legend that the TSA regularly takes that something?

TSm, Been... said...

Quoted
" Isaac_Newton said...
An Anonymous TSA person at May 11, 2009 2:23 PM said:

... people have corkscrews all day long. I bet we take atleast one every single day. Women carry them in their purses. Men have them in their shave bags, etc.Anonymous, did you even read the post you're replying to? Corkscrews are allowed! Why are you taking them "every single day"? Do you understand the meaning of "allowed"?

Bob, here's one already who didn't get the memo. And you wonder why we have no respect for your policies or your training!

May 13, 2009 2:15 AM"
_______________________________
Obvioulsy, he is talking about the corkscrews that have the foil cutter blade built in. We DO accept for surrender SEVERAL of these a day.

Miller said...

Here's an urban myth:

TSA makes flying safe.
Shoes are a threat to air travel safety.
Liquids pose a threat to air travel safety.
BDOs detect miscreants before the miscreants act.

Mr. Gel-pack said...

It's funny that the www.tsa.gov site points to this blog with a little "Blog Now" button, while the slow SSI moderation policy makes it likely that a user won't be able to "blog" until the next business day.

Ryan62 said...

Regarding all the "liquids aren't a threat" cries that always seem to pop up here is a link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Flight_858

No, it isn't your gold star peer reviewed study, but I am prone to think the fact someone actually did it is stronger proof than a study showing it could be done. If one of you could explain how liquids aren't a threat or explain some chemical rational why solid explosives can endanger a plane but somehow liquids can't I am all ears.
I have no objections to people complaining about how TSA attempts to address the threat. There are certainly some areas for concern. But this wholesale insistence that liquids aren't a threat is laughable.


As to a plot not breaking the factory seal I can refer you here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_transatlantic_aircraft_plot

Using a syringe to preserve the factory seal was part of the plan. Yes you can argue about the exact nature of their crime, but the point at issue is that it is possible to replace the contents of a bottle and maintain the factory seal.
Further spend some time on a home brewing website, they will sell you all kinds of seals and labels.

Omar said...

So the dull little 1" foil-cutter "knife" on a corkscrew is dangerous but the the corkscrew itself isn't, despite its long sharp point?

What geniuses came up with that one? Nice distraction while you avoid screening 100% of air-cargo, I guess... I feel safer already!

George said...

Even if we accept the TSA's continued assertion that liquid explosives are a real threat of which we should all be Very Very VERY Afraid, the real question is whether the TSA's current approach is an appropriate and effective response to that threat.

We know that the "War On Liquids" creates a major "pain point" for many travelers. We know that TSOs receive inconsistent and incomplete training about the rules, which leads them to impose unofficial "rules" they or a colleague made up to fill the gap. We know this deficiency leads to implementation at checkpoints that is inconsistent, arbitrary, and too often utterly stupid. We know that leads to needless frustration and expense, and gives affected passengers every reason to despise the TSA.

What we don't know is whether this clearly and obviously flawed reaction to the threat of liquid explosives provides any effective protection against the threat. We also don't know how much the resentment caused by this "pain point" undermines the effectiveness of whatever security the TSA actually provides at airports. The "War On Liquids" really needs a thorough independent review to determine whether the current implementation is appropriate and justified. The undercover tests I've read about suggest that it's less than effective at finding test explosives, so I would suspect that a systematic review would find more reason to question it.

Anonymous said...

Nico --

You've been asked several times to explain why you stated "Knitting needles, carried by grandma, Mrs. Claus or Jeremy down the street are permitted. Plastic, metal, clay, titanium... Whatever... Permitted." .

... but your official link states "We recommend that the needles be made of bamboo or plastic (Not Metal)"What are we missing here, and why haven't you clarified your blog?

This is only confusing the issues that many travelers are having with TSA procedures.

Your response is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely incorrect. Corkscrews ARE NOT in the prohib. list UNLESS there is a blade with it. READ your SOP or tsa.gov
__________________________________

Okay you are like the 3rd or 4th person that this has had to be explained to. I am the poster of that comment and I am fully aware of the fact that a corkscrew is allowed. When saying that they are taken everyday I was obviously refering to the ones with blades. Think a little harder before you post rediculous responses on here. You and everyone else!

Anonymous said...

You've been asked several times to explain why you stated "Knitting needles, carried by grandma, Mrs. Claus or Jeremy down the street are permitted. Plastic, metal, clay, titanium... Whatever... Permitted." .

... but your official link states "We recommend that the needles be made of bamboo or plastic (Not Metal)"What are we missing here, and why haven't you clarified your blog?

This is only confusing the issues that many travelers are having with TSA procedures.

Your response is appreciated.

May 18, 2009 11:12 PM
___________________________________

I'm not sure what is confusing you.
It states that all kinds are allowed. But they would rather you carry bamboo or plastic.
Simply stated I think. You can have all but they prefer a certain kind.
Really, you have to ponder this?!

Do you want a drawing? We could use crayons and make the metal ones blue and the bamboo ones brown. Would that help?

Tomas said...

Yet another anonymous yammered...Okay you are like the 3rd or 4th person that this has had to be explained to. I am the poster of that comment and I am fully aware of the fact that a corkscrew is allowed. When saying that they are taken everyday I was obviously refering to the ones with blades. Think a little harder before you post rediculous responses on here. You and everyone else!
________________

Rather than objecting to multiple people calling your saying that your TSA team confiscates corkscrews everyday, it would have been better to have said clearly that you are confiscating corkscrews with blades attached rather than the misleading statement that you are just confiscating corkscrews, with zero indication of the reason.

Good communication is based on clarity, and your original statement lacked that as evidenced by the multiple folks who believed what you said rather than what you meant.
________________

Continuing on from there, this is a trap that TSA continuously falls into. Working with their secret rules and guidelines every workday, TSOs soak them up by osmosis. When a traveler, who may never have been through that airport's security theater before, has short, obscure to them, and confusing orders barked in their direction, there is a failure to adequately communicate.

The TSOs generally some sort of understanding of the rules and of the sometimes unique terms and acronyms used in their "trade," but the occasional traveler does not. People are not born with the knowledge that TSOs appear to assume everyone should have.

Most people don't spend hours on-line researching TSA rules, and trying to sort out the many un-stated and contradictory hidden rules, and in fact don't even have a clue that they should have to. Those travelers DEPEND on the TSOs to educate and guide them in a professional and polite manner.

Most folks in my age group (62+) are not wed to their computers, and do not necessarily understand the massive changes in air travel caused by the TSA's being inserted into the middle of the process in so many ways.

When working with the public and trying to communicate complex ideas (something more complex than "stop" or "go"), one can not use shorthand and expect that the target has enough background to understand, or assume the filling in of unspoken details.

I don't expect the people on the other side of the trays to be PR folks, but I do expect them to be trained in their jobs, and that includes communication with the public...

Tom

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...I'm not sure what is confusing you.
It states that all kinds are allowed. But they would rather you carry bamboo or plastic.
Simply stated I think. You can have all but they prefer a certain kind.
Really, you have to ponder this?!

Do you want a drawing? We could use crayons and make the metal ones blue and the bamboo ones brown. Would that help?
Snarky, inappropriate response aside, this is the type of policy that creates such angst and dislike of the TSA. Items should be clearly allowed, or clearly not allowed.

The threat of "maybe, depending on which TSO is running the inspection point and how he/she is feeling today, we might accept it, but if we don't, even though we did the last 23 times, you have now voluntarily surrendered your item if you want to fly today" is poor policy and poor public relations.

Nico, I assume your blog was meant to be light hearted humor. It borders on mocking, however, for those who have had non-prohibited items confiscated at the gates, especially when it so directly contradicts the policy that it links to.

Every time someone is shouted at, or loses an item that is explicitly allowed to a bully in a uniform, trust in the TSA is irreparably lost.

For those TSOs who perform their jobs with compassion and common sense, bravo.

The current system encourages the TSO who uses his/her position to inflate their egos through intimidation to flourish, however. We who travel frequently see this on a regular basis in certain airports. Unfortunately, these are the ones we remember, that color our vision of the TSA.

Food for thought.

DG said...

Nico, your post was helpful as I'm planning a trip using carry-on bags only (with a corkscrew sans blade). Even though I am a regular air traveler, I did not know the answer to this and went to the TSA website for clarity. Corkscrews are a pretty common item and should appear on the website's yes/no prohibited items page (http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm). Also, when I put corkscrew in the search bar, got "no results". Thanks for the blog. DG

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. It is very, very simple and you are all making it so comlicated.

Shoes- Ever hear of shoe bombs? Google Richard Reid. THAT is why you shoes must be X-Rayed.

Liquids- Ever hear of liquid explosives? Google Liquid Bomb Plot. Here is an excerpt: (The Crown said the men planned to smuggle the parts of a liquid bomb on to passenger planes. These liquid components would be disguised in soft drinks bottles to bypass airport security. Once on board, the devices would be assembled.)

Corkscrews- None with knives!

And yes, sometimes TSA seems useless. Terrorist plots are going to be stopped (if they are stopped) probably before the terrorists get to the airport. But the amounts of guns, knives, pepper spray or mace, and other items similar to these found each day at checkpoints around the country make it very clear that TSA is needed at airports. The front page of tsa.gov lists the big issues at airports each week.

Anonymous said...

Question:

Are nails allowed in carry-on bags? As in nails used to hang-up pictures? I didn't see anything on the TSA website. Does TSA have an official stance on nails? (it would be nice to see something like less than 3" is OK, >3" is not OK?)

Thanks.

indigo warrior said...

Knitters are still having their projects confiscated. Most of us knit so we can relax and/or keep ourselves entertained while traveling. How dangerous can a knitter possibly be? Scrappy, yes. Dangerous, no. Flight crews seem to be really happy that I just want a diet coke and to be left to my knitting. Why can't the security people be happy with it too?

Anonymous said...

For those commenters who keep screaming about "dangerous knitting needles"... how many of you knit or come into contact with knitting needles?

I can assure you that there is as much risk or more from a fellow passenger's stiletto heels or ballpoint/fountain pens as from my size 7 "sticks"... or even size 0 double-pointed needles.

Pair-a-Docs said...

Blogger Tomas said... Most people don't spend hours on-line researching TSA rules, and trying to sort out the many un-stated and contradictory hidden rules, and in fact don't even have a clue that they should have to. Those travelers DEPEND on the TSOs to educate and guide them in a professional and polite manner.

Most folks in my age group (62+) are not wed to their computers, and do not necessarily understand the massive changes in air travel caused by the TSA's being inserted into the middle of the process in so many ways.

-----------

Fair enough, some folks aren't wed to their computers. But most folks are literate, at least most folks who use the airlines as a means of travel. READ THE SIGNS!!! If the sign says something about your liquids, and you realize you're not in compliance with the rules, either step out of line and deal with it or accept that you'll have to deal with it after you've entered the checkpoint. If the sign says no knives and you have one, deal with it.

And for crying out loud... Yes, a first-time traveler can be excused for not knowing but a second-time traveler has no excuse. If you're on your return flight home, you've already been through the process, been exposed to the signs and should be expected to know. Put your big shampoo, your leatherman, and your grenade belt buckle in your checked luggage!!!!

Let me put it this way. If the sign on the side of the road says 55 mph, and the next one says stay right except when passing... and just past those signs the cop stops you for doing 70 in the left lane when there's no other traffic... do you think that cop is going to let you slide just 'cuz you say "Gee, I didn't know?" That cop will cost you a ticket, a fine, and a ding on your driving record as well as fruitless time spent going to court trying to convince a judge that the rules are stupid. TSA is only going to ask that you choose whether to abandon the item or take it back outside the sterile area and do what you please with it.

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

I find this post offensive; I HAVE experienced this so-called myth personally. I have had nail clippers AND knitting needles (yes bamboo...) taken from me. This has been since 2005... The reality is that anything - even bare hands - can be used as a weapon by a determined individual and no amount of false security will ever make us "safe." The desire to be safe is an empty one. I want my knitting needles back.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, dear. I never realized I was allowed only one zip-lock bag. I have always had, and shown openly, three bags at least, with no difficulties. I have so many creams and lotions in little bottles. My metal knitting needles have never been taken, but a little knife I forgot I had with me was--the searcher called it a "non-prohibited item," before taking it. I asked him what that meant, before I realized he was just not that good with language.

Anonymous said...

so sorry, just to confirm, if I have metal circular knitting needles this will not be a problem? i'm not the usual knitting type either, i am a 30 yr old male

Dan said...

I agree with this comment..."some passengers who carry these items will get to a checkpoint and be surprised when the TSO declares one or more of them "prohibited,"
This always happens

Hunter said...

First, let's not vent our frustrations at the TSA, we know and they know that the system is flawed. But they can't implement change without going through a series of steps, one of which I am sure is proving to board that the change in question is substantially better than the currently enacted procedure. I am sure getting a board of security advisers to take seriously "matters of convenience" is not an easy task.

Second, the matter of liquids. Liquids are potentially dangerous, not only are there the exploding liquid compounds that everyone is so worried about. There are also reactive liquids where you take two or more normally harmless liquids and combine them to create an effect, effects range from spontaneous combustion, electrical discharge, to the production of noxious gasses.
The question is not are liquids dangerous the question is are the security measures actually effective or simply a nuisance. I think nuisance, with four 3oz bottles of mystery liquid you could do more than enough damage.

Last, I do think it is TSAs responsibility to make a clear list of inappropriate travel items that are not subject to debate or interpretation, and force all TSOs to adhere to it. Under the current system, a TSO having a bad day may theoretically decide pencils, pens or car keys could be possible weapons.
Well there is my two cents.

Hunter

Phill said...

I can honestly say that in 20 years of flying regularly on business eg 2-3 times a week. I have never ever seen anyone knitting, so just how much of issue is it ?

One commenter has it right, I'd have thought you could do far more damage with Stiletto heels.

Just my thoughts.

Phill

Jay Courtland said...

I respect what the TSA does and realize they have their work cut out for them. The Bigfoot humor was great though!

Keith said...

I'm a male knitter who has traveled numerous times with my knitting projects. Often times I was not the only one knitting or crocheting on the plane. But whenever I traveled with my knitting I went out of my way to ensure that my needles were bamboo ... even though my preferred needle material is metal ... and also made sure that the project didn't need a long cable if using circular needles.

But it seems like the knitting material restrictions have been relaxed.

The current policy states:

"Knitting needles are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage."

"Items needed to pursue a Needlepoint project are permitted in your carry-on baggage or checked baggage with the exception of circular thread cutters or any cutter with a blade contained inside which cannot go through the checkpoint and must go in your checked baggage."

There is no mention of needle type (e.g. circular vs. straight) or material that the needles are made of (e.g. bamboo, plastic, metal, etc).

Plus the latest PDF of Prohibited Items does not include knitting supplies. It of course still has the caveat that it's not all inclusive and up to the TSO to determine if the object is dangerous.

I too wish they would just be definitive, rather than leave room for interpretation.

Mary said...

I have witnessed a TSO attempting to prevent an elderly passenger bringing her large collection of circular knitting needles (two short needles connected with a piece of plastic wire) on board. The lady was flabbergasted and the TSO demonstrated that they could be used to choke someone from behind. This lady certainly had her wits about her as she explained that the same action could be recreated with a man's tie.

Unfortunatley I couldn't hang around to see the conclusion! This was some time ago but the knitter certainly had a point!

Anonymous said...

For all those that question why anyone would bring a nail clipper as carry-on, some people don't have checked luggage, all they need is in a carry-on luggage, where would they put their nail clipper? Esp. now that alot of airlines are charging $$ for even the first piece of checked luggage.

Mark the personalised wine guy said...

OK, I've had a really snazzy corkscrew confiscated pre-flight 'cos it had a blade. I can accept that, but surely it's a lot less dangerous that a titanium knitting needle? Those thing can go right thru you!

Ryan Jameson said...

Nail clippers is a strange one. But then im not sure that I would have any legitimate use for them on a plane. Not to keen to see anyone else using them either really :)

Anonymous said...

I will be flying to D.C. to assist with a National Museum of the American Museum public event involving traditional Native American handspindles. These are wooden spindles that are basically barbecue skewers (the little ones) or small diameter dowels with pointed ends (the big ones). Each is fitted with a clay or wood whorl that is disk-shaped or spherical or something close to one of those. Most are about 6-7 inches long, the big ones up to 15 inches or so. Are these permitted in carry-on?

immigration new zealand said...

Knitting needles, corkscrews, nail clippers and the like have no fear for me but while plastic bottles are used in economy, business class has wine served in glass bottles. I was musing on this on a recent Air New Zealand flight. A jagged broken bottle is a fearsome weapon don't you think? Or do people feel those in business class are unlikely to attempt violence?

Brenda Coffey said...

Im glad to see that knitting needles are allowed would hate to disappoint grandma. However, I am not sure what the largest size of plastic container with liquid is allowed on a flight. Will be flying internationally next year and want to be sure I am within the guidelines.

Thanks you!

Howie said...

"So to sum up, if you are the kind of person who likes to drink wine, knit and clip your nails, you are free to do all three in flight... So long as you don't have any blades."

Can you just make sure that I am not sitting next to such a person!

Longboard said...

So you're saying the liquids ban is lifted? I mean, you said we can drink wine on board using our corkscrews. And, well, the wine you buy on board does not require opening with a corkscrew. Wow, what great news!

It's rather amazing you let through knitting needles, corkscrews, and nail files that can easily pierce the jugular, but that darn factory-sealed bottle of Diet Pepsi is a dangerous substance!

Anonymous said...

Be glad no tried to smuggle a bomb on board an aircraft up their rectum or we'd all be getting cavity searches instead of the almost as humiliating shoe search.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info and I appreciate the method of presentation.

Anonymous said...

If the policy is to allow those corkscrews with no knives, why did I have two of those cheap corkscrews with no knives confiscated on two recent flights? This message needs to get down to the agents at the airport screening areas.

Anonymous said...

If nailclippers are allowed, why were my daughter's nailclippers [a very expensive manicure set] confiscated, broken into two pieces and the shards handed back to her. I was standing there, looking on in amazement while this happened. O, I guess they weren't 'confiscated.' They were destroyed.

Christopher said...

I had a TSA screener take my nail clippers in 2004. I also had a TSA screener snap the 2-inch nail file off my nail clippers (without asking me) and then return it to my bag. Both times at Sea-Tac (SEA).

"Not official policy" isn't the same as "urban legend". It's not a false rumor conjured out of nothing. It's a half-true rumor conjured out of things that have actually happened to people.

Anonymous said...

"Not allowing a 3 inch knife on a corkscrew, but allowing a foot long titanium knitting needle is simply... how to say this with out using a bad word...bleeping crazy. A foot long sharp metal stick is a much more effective weapon than a little kitchen tool."

Funny, because most knitters using metal needles are using hollow aluminum point needles. Knitting needles aren't exactly sharp, either. I don't know where on Earth you got the idea that they are "sharp."

What's frightening is that the third commenter (second Anonymous post) claims to be an employee of the TSA and doesn't know this. I think you guys were supposed to be in charge of "safety."

Michael said...

Good to know that nail clippers are allowed. I had nail clippers taken from me by TSA agents in the Atlanta airport in 2002 and haven't carried them past TSA since.

Anonymous said...

They snagged my wife's nail clippers on a trip to Snowmass and on the way back they dumped my medications(ALL were properly labeled) out in my bag and after I got home I discovered the only one missing was the one someone could have gotten high off of (or sold to someone who would). Try explaining that your medication was stolen by the TSA to your VA doctor.

john said...

For 10+ years I have brought a small container of whitefish salad from my favorite deli in Chicago back to DC on each of my several visits per year. In clear plastic, the container might be about the size of an 8 oz cottge cheese container. No one has EVER asked about it...until this past Nov when, as always, it showed up on the X-ray. This time it necessitated a bag search. THe TSA agent removed it. I described the contents and offered to eat some. He said No;s aid he ahd to remove the top. i said Fine. I am not sured what happened next but I assume it was some sort of chemical sniffer. He then handed it back to me and I proceeded to board. So, what changed? Does TSA now require a kosher label on deli foods? :-)
What drives me mad about TSA is the maddening inconsistency. One day you have to put shoes directly on the conveyor; the next time you can them in the box; the next time on the conveyor. It varies between and within the same airport. In New Orleans I've watched as people walk through the detectors with shoes on while I ahve dutifully taken mine off. On my last flight from OHare, the TSA agent said all belts had to be taken off. I've never taken off my belt, never set off an alarm. So I left it on to see what would happen. Nothing happened.

I agree with other commenters who have obsered that this is enormous expenditure is nothing but theater--and one for which we as a society pay a high price , both in monetary and non-monetary terms, and get little for it but annoyance.
John Chamberlin
Falls Church VA

PS I jsut finished watching the Youtube clip on the TSA "breast milk" episode in Phoenix. Question--was the manager and staff punished , ideally fired, for their misbehavior? If not, why not?

Jim Jensen said...

Maybe so but I personally had a TSA agent take clippers out of my bag and break the file off the clippers then hand them back to me. The same agent removed the Gillette Fusion blade from my razor. This happend 6 or 7 years ago but regardless it happened.

Anonymous said...

In March 2011 my son's team flew from ElPaso to California. They did fundraising themselves, and opted to only have carryons to save money. Security made him throw away his toenail clippers & tweezers, while his teammate passed thru with a full size bottle of shampoo. He had even asked me beforehand if clipper/tweez were ok and I told him yes. My credibility has gone down along with TSA's.

Anonymous said...

As most airlines now charge extra for a checked bag, I expect more people to try to maximize their carryon capability (already there is a shortage of carryon space. heaven help us if everyone maxes out). From many decades of travel experience, I never go anywhere w/out a pocket knife (aka multipurpose utility device) a bottle of water and a flashlight. I have solved the water problem by filling a bottle with tap water after going thru security, but still cant take a pocketknife w/out "checking" it. In one country I even had to surrender my AA flashlight batteries, which were placed in a metal box on the flight and returned upon landing. I wonder if a similar solution could be made for pocketknives for those of us who dont have a check bag option? Too hard? well let me carry my small knife. I dont think it will be anymore threat than a trained person with a bic pen or shiv.

Bonnie said...

I beg to differ. I was stopped at paris airport for a corkscrew in my bag. It is NOT a myth, and it was NOT one iwth a knife but the cheap traditional one...Please check what you are saying before giving advice!!

marianne kuiper milks / OneBigBoost said...

My knitting needles were taken away until recently, when I was sick of being bullied, and simply printed off the 'knitting needles carry-on? google page and showed it. "When was that printed? That one is from before we changed it!" Eh...see date and time? this morning at 11:03 am?
Knitting needles have very dull, rounded points, or they would be hazardous to the knitter, right? Your ballpoint pen could then be as hazardous as the knitting needle. 4" POINTED blades (please protect the examiner from injury) on a pair of scissors is definitely dangerous. Try running the edge of some Fiskars over your finger. Bring band-aid. I fly a lot, mainly international. I have no objections for TSA to protect me and others, just as plane engines are made as secure as possibly, and pilots are great guys to get me there. It's the agent who says "you questioning me? You wanna fly"? that gets my blood boiling.I can'live' with the rest.

Flobaby said...

Bonnie's post 4/13/11: If you were stopped at Paris airport, that obviously was unrelated to TSA, n'est pas? As is noted elsewhere in Blog and on TSA site, other countries are not bound by our rules and may have different requirements.

Anonymous said...

Ok... So what you're trying to say is that I can't carry nail clippers on my flights?

Anonymous said...

A corkscrew with no blade was confiscated from me in an airport. I think this happened frequently.

You are lying, or the officers don't know the rules--and for these people, not knowing the rules allegedly protecting our lives is criminal.

jeff said...

I know there are good people working at the TSA but I also think there are people working at the TSA that are not so good. There really needs to be a standard set. Has the TSA caught even 1 threat?

Longboards said...

I agree with what some have said that there seems to be no standard set of rules for what's allowed and what's not allowed. I wouldn't even consider bringing in titanium knitting needles...

Anonymous said...

I had a set of double-pointed knitting needles taken from me coming back from Ireland in 2008. I had no trouble bringing them with me on the way over, but Irish TSA workers said it was US TSA policy to take knitting needles coming back into the states, though not leaving. I've always wondered about this.

kieu choe said...

A corkscrew with no blade was confiscated from me in an airport. I think this happened frequently.

You are lying, or the officers don't know the rules--and for these people, not knowing the rules allegedly protecting our lives is criminal.

Katy said...

I don't think that TSA is lying just because one of their officers doesn't know the rules. That's a simplistic reaction.

I always go to security first to ask them if I can bring something on. They're the ones that have read or not read the latest, so I go to them first. They'll also be the ones checking my bags. THEN I go to the bag check.

Okay, about nail clippers. Why do people carry them on anyway? Seriously, if I hear anyone clipping their nails on the plane, I'll smack them. It's not about safety; it's about manners. Clip your nails at home, people.

Anonymous said...

i was not allowed to bring nail clippers on a recent flight. i usually have nail clippers in my carry-on, but this time i was stopped and forced to forfeit them at the security gate. this was at jfk.

Anonymous said...

i was not allowed to bring nail clippers on a recent flight. i usually have nail clippers in my carry-on, but this time i was stopped and forced to forfeit them at the security gate. this was at jfk.

Anonymous said...

TSA's excuse for not following their own rules or those of decency are that they "are human" and can't be expected to be as competent as they expect air travelers to be.

For those condemning those boarding with nail clippers: some of are going to be away for months. Must we ask your and TSA'a permission to clip an errant nail broken while out camping in some remote area. AH

Anonymous said...

Airport security up north(small planes and short distance only), the pilot points to your bag and asks if that's your. After telling him yes, he tells you to grab it cause the fpight is about to leave.

It could be full of tnt, for all anyone cares. But yes, the plane can't reach anywhere with a sizeable population nor anywhere with a building larger than three storeys, so no security makes sense.

Kat said...

On the nail clipper issue:

Nail clippers are a suitable substitute for scissors when scissors are only allowed in checked baggage.

For example, when knitting or crocheting, there are times you need to snip the yarn. Since scissors are a no-no, nail clippers will get the job done. It's not pretty, but when you have a 4½ hour flight and have to change colors 16 times, it's better than gnawing at yarn with your teeth.

Nail clippers are also useful to snipping strings off of clothes. Especially when you have children who are prone to tug on anything that sticks out, a mom will carry around nail clippers to clip the loose threads. Or if they bought a toy for the kid at the airport gift shop, and they have those little plastic tags that you absolutely do not want the kid to eat (because they will try), nail clippers make it a piece of cake to cut off the tag and give the toy straight to the kid.

Most of the time, the nail clipper I carry around with me is used for anything BUT clipping my nails. Easy to clip things and harder for kids to hurt themselves with if they get a hold of it.

Anonymous said...

The irreverence in this post is not appreciated. These are points of frustration for those of us that are treated with bruskly and with disdain when we, as passengers, have followed the rules according to what is on the TSA website. When are told that that we are not allowed to bring something regardless of what is on the TSA website, that is frustrating. Upsetting. Asking for a supervisor only inspires more bad treatment with an attitude of, do what I'm telling you, shut up, and move on because I can make your life hell. All because of wooden double pointed needles with 5 inches of knitting on them.

NailChix said...

Great article! I have lots of friends who bite their nails. I will have to share this story with them!