Friday, October 23, 2009

Response to “Bag Check” Cartoon

On the surface, this cartoon resonates with many passengers who’ve had to abandon their liquids or adjust their travel to adhere to TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid policy.

This cartoon compares the allowance of laptop batteries with a bottle of water. It leads the reader to believe batteries are more dangerous than the water. While that might be true, it leaves out the reasoning behind 3-1-1. The batteries may be more dangerous than a bottle of water, but they are not more dangerous than a water bottle filled with liquid explosives.

When you show us a bottle of liquid, we can’t tell if it’s a sports drink or liquid explosives without doing a time consuming test on it. We’re developing the proper technology to allow us to expedite the screening of all liquids, but in the meantime, to screen everybody’s various types of liquids over 3.4 oz. would cause gridlock at the checkpoints.

Why is 3.4 oz. and below OK and what’s up with the baggies? To date, I think those questions were answered best in an interview with Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes. I highly suggest you read it to get the big picture of what lead to 3-1-1.

Additional information on Lithium (laptop) batteries: They’re permissible in checked and carry-on luggage when they’re in the devices they are intended for. Spare batteries are not permissible in checked baggage, but they can be transported in your carry-on luggage if they are packaged properly.

You can read more about the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rules on traveling with batteries at the SafeTravel web page.

(Cartoon Courtesy of XKCD)


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