Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traveling with E-readers, Netbooks, and Other Small Gadgets (Including the iPad)

E-readers, Net Books and other small gadgets are becoming more and more popular for travelers to bring along in their carry-ons. (iPads, Kindles™, Neos, Nooks™, Sony® Readers™ etc.)

Not only are they essential to those who need to stay connected and work or study on the go, but they are also fantastic time killers, which makes these gadgets extremely popular carry-on items. I’ve read many a post from people wondering if these items should be treated like a laptop and removed from their carry-on bags for checkpoint screening.

Great question! Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple.

It’s important to remember, however, that our officers are trained to look for anomalies to help keep air travel safe, and if something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening. The key to avoiding bag searches is keeping the clutter down. The less clutter you have in your bag, the less likely it will be searched.

Only electronics the size of a standard laptop or larger (for example Playstation®, Xbox™, or Nintendo®), full-size DVD players, and video cameras that use video cassettes must be removed from their carrying cases and submitted separately for x-ray screening. Removing larger electronics helps us get a better look at them and also allows us to get a better look at the contents of your bag. If you have a TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bag, you can leave your laptop in.)

So, kick back and enjoy your gadgets and all they have to offer. We’ve come a long way since the classic time killers such as Mad Libs and Wooly Willy.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

224 comments:

1 – 200 of 224   Newer›   Newest»
Jon said...

i hope this gets standardized across airports. i was traveling out of LAX a couple weeks back and left my (regular sized) kindle in my backpack with just clothes on top, so it should have been a pretty unobstructed view.

the x-ray screener asked if i had a kindle after looking at the monitor and i said yes, i did, and he told me next time i'd have to take it out next time. i'd traveled with it several times before and was never instructed to do so (specifically out of SFO and LHR).

Blogger Bob said...

Jon said... i hope this gets standardized across airports.
April 6, 2010 9:41 PM

-----------------------

Hi Jon. We are also refreshing the workorce on this. If you run into any problems, please let us know.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Marie said...

The TSA officers always make me take my Kindle out of my bag. It's a Kindle DX, which is larger than a standard Kindle but quite a bit smaller than a laptop. I now just take it out to avoid the "what is that thing, a hard drive?" type questions.

I think the ongoing battle the TSA faces is communicating these policies to the TSA agents working at the airport.

On my last flight I was scolded by an agent for placing my shoes (a pair of ballet flats) in the bin alongside my small purse. "No shoes in the bins!!" All of the bins in front of mine and those that came after contained shoes, but mine were not allowed. *Sigh*

I work for the Feds myself, and do appreciate this blog. But I know that if employees at my agency ever treated the public with such capricious disdain, they'd be disciplined.

Anyway, thanks for the info, and good luck getting the word out to the TSA agents on the ground.

Kristina said...

What is a standard size laptop? Can I leave my netbook (smaller than most ebooks) in my bag?

Blogger Bob said...

Kristina, your netbook can stay in your bag.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Blogger Bob said...

Marie,

Sorry you had a bad experience. You should never be scolded for anything at the checkpoint. If it happens again, please use our Got Feedback Program so we can address the problem.

Thanks for your comment.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

WendyLou said...

Question on laptop bags. I just bought a neoprene sleeve for my laptop. By itself it would be checkpoint friendly, as it's basically a condom for my laptop. Can I leave the charger and my cables in the pocket or do I need to move them to another bag, like my backpack?

RB said...

Blogger Bob said...
Marie,

Sorry you had a bad experience. You should never be scolded for anything at the checkpoint. If it happens again, please use our Got Feedback Program so we can address the problem.

Thanks for your comment.

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2010 10:08 PM
................
Why not train your employees to do their job properly first instead of putting the task of watching your empoyees on the shoulders of travelers. While doing that train your supervisors to note poor performance of the workforce and use discipline for those who need it. Firing should be an early corrective tool!

As far as E-Readers I have traveled through DFW, PBI and LAS with my reader and have not taken it out of my carry on. So on that point good job.

Jim Huggins said...

With all respect, Bob (and I do mean it) ... wouldn't it make more sense to do the refresher with the TSA workforce before announcing it here?

Blogger Bob said...

@WendyLou - From the way you have described your bag, it sounds like a winner. Just make sure there's nothing on top or underneath the laptop. (you should put all of the cables etc. in a different bag)

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

What are the procedures are for clearing harmless medical devices detected by your strip search technology, Bob?

Anonymous said...

Why bother letting you know? You don't care. This blog is a smokescreen to create an appearance of responsiveness while TSA gets more and more ridiculous.

Shawn said...

While I appreciate the difficult job faced by the TSA, I find most of the TSA's policies to be arbitrary and capricious, this one included.

There's a very challenging balancing act you face every day: how to allow the local TSA agents to exercise reasonable judgement without inviting discrimination or abuse.

The absurd liquids policy at least has the advantage of being specific: you can carry on *this* much liquid and no more. That's the essence of the policy.

Unfortunately, from time to time I get hassled not about the volume of liquid I'm carrying, but about the size and shape of the plastic bag I carry it in. I use a small, somewhat-rigid plastic case and usually carry exactly three small items in it: rewetting drops for my contact lenses, a small tube of toothpaste, and a small container of deodorant. Each item is less than three ounces, but from time-to-time, screeners object to the bag. (The bag itself confoms to the size requirements in the policy -- I've checked -- but its just not the typical bag).

By contrast, I once took a rather scary looking (but innocuous) item on board; I asked a TSA agent if there would be any problem getting it through security, and he said that as long as its not on the forbidden list, its okay.

I think the problem stems from the seemingly different standards, and an (apparent) lack of guiding principles from which a traveller could deduce the right thing to do.

The liquids policy is very specific, while the laptop policy is generalized with phrases like "standard sized laptops."

I believe it would be helpful if hte TSA undertook to "harmonize" all your policies to similar levels of detail, allowing similar levels of discretion by screeners.

AS a first step, may I suggest that you refine your policy to set the dimensions of metalic objects that can be carried on. Objective measurements can be supported or refuted by evidence, while things like "standard sized laptops" are just an invitation to conflict and inconsistency.

Blogger Bob said...

RB said... Why not train your employees to do their job properly first instead of putting the task of watching your empoyees on the shoulders of travelers.

RB Also said: As far as E-Readers I have traveled through DFW, PBI and LAS with my reader and have not taken it out of my carry on. So on that point good job. April 6, 2010 10:19 PM
----------------------

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Flack4RIC said...

Thank you for getting this information up so quickly following the launch of the iPad.

Blogger Bob said...

@Jim Huggins - Yes, that would have made sense and that was our original plan. I actually had an e-reader post in the works for the workforce, but Forbes published an article today that created a lot of interest and we felt it would be best to message the public and the workorce now instead of staggering the two.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Isaac Newton said...

Blogger Bob says:
Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases.
C'mon, Bob. Can't you just say "do not" need to be removed? Oh, no, actually you can't, because you go on with:
if something needs a closer look, it will receive secondary screening.
So like everything else, your policy boils down to "we want you to think this is the rule, but don't be surprised if we do something different."
Sure, whatever.

Anonymous said...

I have been repeatedly told my netbook must be removed from my bag. Could you guys get your act together?

And I am still waiting to hear what procedures will be used to clear objects found in whole body imaging scans.

Anonymous said...

when in doubt, take it out.

Erin De Santiago said...

Interesting to read that netbooks should be able to stay in the luggage. My husband and I travel between Asia and the US constantly and have been told multiple times leaving LAX (both through Delta and Tom Bradley gates) that any size laptop MUST be taken out for scanning. I am flying back into the US next month so I will testing it on my flight outbound back to Asia.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I fully expect the 'official' policy to be applied based on the whims of the TSO doing the screening. Expecting anything else by the traveling public is wishful thinking

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said...

"We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve. "

And yet, in the last two threads we find out that your officers don't seem to know the procedures for e-readers or declaring medical devices.

In my line of work, that level of performance is not acceptable or tolerated.

Adrian said...

Puppy post.

Are you going to talk about the TSA employee who was indicted for attempting to tamper with the selectee and no-fly databases?
http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/article/339185/former_tsa_analyst_charged_computer_tampering/

You bragged when the selectee and no-fly lists were reduced in size. Are you going to discuss how they've doubled in size since the failed Christmas attack?
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/10/national/main6286899.shtml

Are you going to talk about how whole body imaging violates HIPAA by forcing people to disclose private medical information?
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/02/06/my-left-breast-put-fancy-tsa-scanner-to-the-test/

If we really must have a puppy post on electronics screening, how about discussing how we can bring harmless home-made electronic devices through security.
http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/scot_peele.shtm

RB said...

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 6, 2010 10:36 PM

.............
Bob, comments on this blog and elsewhere would seem to indicate that TSA employees do not know their jobs, are not well trained, and make it up as they go.

As far as the Got Feed Back issue, I twice used the "Got Feedback" to report issues at two different airports, FLL and DFW.

The FLL issue was what I believed to be an attempted theft by a screener and the FSD at FLL covered that issue up.

The issue at DFW involved a couple of issues and I do not believe either were dealt with in any acceptable manner.

My opinion of the Got Feedback program is that it allows local airport officials to hide complaints from TSA senior managers.

Any complaint filed with TSA needs to have the complaint and resolution reviewed by an independent/ombudsman panel who understand the screening process and underlying operating procedures TSA works under for proper action.

Also TSA needs to use a secret shopper program to evaluate checkpoint procedures. This would be a very effective tool to understanding what is really going on at TSA checkpoints. The public could be enlisted to assist in this endeavor and I believe would be eager to evaluate their screening process.

And while on the subject, you have not posted several items I have submitted in recent days.

In order to understand what posting rule I have violated (none in my mind) I required feedback on why you have censored my postings, all of which qualify as protected political speech and violates my First Amendment Constitutional protections.

Shelby Park said...

Can you tell me where I can find a list of TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bags like you described in your post?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, this post just illustrates how poorly run the TSA really is. The screeners at Boston have scolded me for not removing a Kindle from my carry on. When your own agents don't know such a simple policy, it undermines my confidence that they know how to detect an actual threat.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Sadly, this post just illustrates how poorly run the TSA really is. The screeners at Boston have scolded me for not removing a Kindle from my carry on. When your own agents don't know such a simple policy, it undermines my confidence that they know how to detect an actual threat.

April 7, 2010 11:58 AM
................
Bob how does this support your claim that TSA employees are well trained?

Anonymous said...

Gotta laugh about this.

there is a thread going on right now over at Flyertalk with TSO's saying they should come out of the bag.

I guess this is just another example of the good training the TSA is doing..

Li Ma Chicago said...

I took my 10" netbook with me all the time when I travel inside the states. it seems like different TSA check points have different rules on searching the netbook. I think TSA needs to communicate and update their regulations with all the checkpoints nation wide.

RB said...

Conversation from another blog demonstrating that WBI Strip Searches are either not optional or TSA employees continue to demostrate their lack of quality training.

What say you Bob?

...........................
It is being used as "primary" screening at all airports that have them installed but you can still choose a pat-down, although they will not tell you this you need to request it. it is still better to check the day before your flight so you can follow this link to the TSA website.

http://www.tsa.gov/approach/tech/ima...echnology.shtm

Just scroll to the bottom and look for the "what are my options" section. With the economy currently in the crapper I don't think the Gov't will give anyone a reason not to fly. Until the economy rebounds...that is. Keep up the good fight.

"They have it at DCA...I asked for a pat down and was refused...*sighs* "

Jessy Wu said...

This is very interesting with the Apple iPad just came out. It's similar to the Kindle, but functionally, it's much complicate than it. So I hope TSA would treat it seriously as a laptop computer

Anonymous said...

You posters are unbelievably whiny - get over yourselves, it takes all of 20 seconds to take your laptop out and put it in a bin. Are you all really that lazy and self centered you can't contribute 20 seconds to the cause of safety on our airlines?

Personally, I'm against this new policy. If you can hide an explosive or other weapon inside of a laptop, surely you can do the same with a tablet or netbook. After announcing this policy change, be assured that some terrorist is out there right now, trying to figure it out. Good job.

Anonymous said...

This is a ridiculous policy. You need to define "size of a standard laptop". No two laptops are exactly the same size. That's the type of terrible policies the TSA has set which makes travelers feel unfairly singled out.

CCEMT-P said...

Blogger Bob said....

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.

If you or another passenger choose not to use Got Feedback or the TSA Contact Center, that's fine. It's just a tool to help us identify opportunities for improvement.

And as to the last part of your comment, thanks for the kudos, RB!

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

----------------------------

Uh huh riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight if my interactions with your "professional" colleagues then there is a ton of work to be done starting with proper customer service and attitude. then not to mention actually following what few rules are published on this site. IE if i present a HHS ID (which has a 10 year CBC, pysch eval and clearance above any Checkpoint TSO) i should not be asked if i have a Drivers License (which BTW in the state of texas is NOT a ID but rather a permit to operate a motor vehicle), when screeners at DCA, EWR, LGA, JFK, MIA, MCO, ORD, STL, LAS, LAX, SJC, and SFO haven't.


in my line of work if i acted the way TSA does i would be fired with prejudice, blacklisted from ever getting a job again (health-care), and probably lose my certification from the state and national bodies.

as for the Got Feedback, thats just a CYA sweep under the rug move. I have filed numerous (more then then supposed " only 5" received last year) complaints about attitude problems, violations of procedures, attempted theft, making terroristic threats against passengers. what has been done not a thing. So instead of sending them to you all im have been sending them to my congress critter and the congress critters responsible for your budget.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me where I can find a list of TSA "checkpoint friendly" laptop bags like you described in your post?
___________________________________
I bet you could google checkpoint friendly laptop bags and you would be able to find some.

AngryMiller said...

Bob, the front line screeners show an appalling lack of consistency even at the same airport. Please don't say that this is another layer of security when we know that it is due to management failing to properly instruct the TSOs.

This utter and near total lack of consistency does nothing to improve security. All it does is make the passengers wonder if anyone at TSA really knows what is going on regarding security.

TSOWilliamReed said...

A lot of passengers really don't understand how simple items can clutter up a bag. For instance if you have 4 school text books in your back pack, they will make it so all the other items in your bag can't be identifiable. So to make things easier since the text books are easiest to remove, the x-ray operator may ask the TSO to rerun the bag with the text books out and seperate. You don't have to remove these items before screening but if we need to remove them to be able to make out whats in your bag then thats what we are going to do. If we can't tell whats in your bag then we have to find out what is in your bag, the easiest way to do so is by removing some of the items in your bag and x-raying your bag again to make it easier to see everything.

H.G. Rickover said...

That's good to hear. Thanks for the update.

Marty said...

So is a MacBook Air considered a standard sized laptop @2.9 pounds and .75" thick?

Mark Atwood said...

When I flew out of SeaTac several weeks ago, after I went through the security screening, the TSA agent made me take my Kindle out of my bag, and then put my bag and my Kindle into separate bins, and run them through again. This was really unwelcome, given that there was no announcement that Kindles were to be treated like laptops, and I was really tight to get to my flight.

Today, when I flew out through SeaTac again, they were announcing it. That Kindles needed to be removed from carry-on bags, and seperately screened, just like laptops.

So, when is this policy actually going to be implemented at SeaTac?

It's especially galling that this is happening in Seattle, since the Kindle is an Amazon product, and Amazon is located in Seattle.

Rocco said...

Saying you can bring something smaller than a standard size laptop is a poor choice of words. I have an 11" laptop - is that small enough? what about my 10" tablet laptop? What about my 9" netbook? What about when I travel with several laptops? I do this for a living and something need both.

Why can't there be something posted that says "all electronics at 11.5" or smaller may stay in the bag"

Second question: this sounds like the war on liquids all over again (4 oz bad, 3 oz good). Exactly whyis a 10" laptop safe enough to leave in the bag, but an 11" laptop not safe enough?

I also seem to have had some posts - all written the same way, respectful yet with legitimate questions - censured. Sigh.

Bufo Calvin said...

That's great! Thanks for stating a clear policy.

It might help if you also let people know it is safe for the devices to go through the x-ray machines (and to be wanded). I think many people ask for individual handling out of concern about damage, which can create more work for screeners and slow down travelers.

Josh Kirschner said...

Hi Bob,

We are regularly asked to remove our kids' portable DVD player from its bag at LGA and MDW. Happened again just last week.

Anonymous said...

@RB - We do train our officers to do their jobs properly. I'm sure that even in your line of work, there must areas where employees can improve.
----------------------------------------

I don't know about RB, but I can say that in my thousands of contact hours with my colleagues, no one has ever, ever spoken to me with the outrageously rude and needlessly authoritarian tone with which your officers have addressed me on a number of occasions. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that such acts of bullying would be treated as outrageous aberrations, and anyone who behaved that way would face immediate and severe consequences. Just like at the TSA, right?

deadpass said...

What is the size of a "normal laptop" If netbooks are too small to need screened, those are 9 or 10" usually (screen size) What about my 13" laptop? It's smaller and lighter than most laptops, is it below the size of an "normal" laptop?

If we are told by a TSO to take our ipad or kindle out of our bag for screening what recourse do we have at the moment to fix the problem? The "got feedback" is too after the fact and will require compliance instead of correcting a TSO on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Well thanks, I think (not sarcastic, more curiously optimistic). I generally carry a netbook and kindle with me when I fly. At BWI last year my kindle was mistaken for a DVD player(???) when I didn't take it out of my bag. The seemingly-arbitrary rules before this was that laptops and DVD players had to be taken out. Since the Kindle didn't count as either, maybe this clarifies things. I'll test this out when I fly in a few weeks.

Suzi-Q said...

Bob,

Thanks for your responsiveness. Managing such a large workforce (and keeping consistency across it!) is quite the task. Thanks for all TSA's work with all the new procedures.

Anonymous said...

Aww you guys are so cute! Not only do you do nothing to enhance security, find weapons and explosives, but now you're admitting it!

You know what, "BOB", how about instead of saying "You can kick back and leave your kindle"...

LET US KEEP OUR SHOES ON LIKE THE REST OF THE FREE WORLD.

Ehud
Tucson AZ
Moderate to your heart's content. But take your shoes off first.

calc said...

Are 12" netbooks/laptops included in this policy of not needing to be removed from their bag? Standard size laptop is pretty vague but most laptops now are 15" so I might assume that 12" are considered to be covered by the not needing to be removed policy.

Adrian said...

Could someone on the blog team explain why relevant comments and questions are not being posted? I've had several disappear into the black hole lately, and I've heard similar compaints from others.

RB said...

Bob, based on the comments on this one thread alone it looks like your claim that TSA employees are well trained is just a fallacy.

Perhaps some TSA HQ types need to put on jeans and T-shirts buy some airline tickets and find out what is really going on in the world.

And yes I am saying that TSA upper management is out of touch with what is going on in the field.

TSM, been here.... said...

Quoted:
" deadpass said...
What is the size of a "normal laptop" If netbooks are too small to need screened, those are 9 or 10" usually (screen size) What about my 13" laptop? It's smaller and lighter than most laptops, is it below the size of an "normal" laptop?

If we are told by a TSO to take our ipad or kindle out of our bag for screening what recourse do we have at the moment to fix the problem? The "got feedback" is too after the fact and will require compliance instead of correcting a TSO on the spot.

April 8, 2010 12:49 AM"
------------------------------
What "recourse" are you talking about? So you were asked to take a Kindle, DVD player, etc, out of your bag. Big Deal!

We routinely ask that these things be taken out so that we can get a better look as these items usually make it more difficult for some people to read the xray image. Maybe there's a newer TSO on xray. Maybe we are seeing alot of cluttered bags that day.

Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse.

Anonymous said...

How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob?

RB said...

TSM, been here.... said...
Quoted:
" deadpass said...
What is the size of a "normal laptop" If netbooks are too small to need screened, those are 9 or 10" usually (screen size) What about my 13" laptop? It's smaller and lighter than most laptops, is it below the size of an "normal" laptop?

If we are told by a TSO to take our ipad or kindle out of our bag for screening what recourse do we have at the moment to fix the problem? The "got feedback" is too after the fact and will require compliance instead of correcting a TSO on the spot.

April 8, 2010 12:49 AM"
------------------------------
What "recourse" are you talking about? So you were asked to take a Kindle, DVD player, etc, out of your bag. Big Deal!

We routinely ask that these things be taken out so that we can get a better look as these items usually make it more difficult for some people to read the xray image. Maybe there's a newer TSO on xray. Maybe we are seeing alot of cluttered bags that day.

Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse.

April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

...............
TSM, isn't the fact of the matter that there is no way you can break a rule since any TSA employee can pretty much screen someone any way the like?

That is a major issue the public has with TSA. No available guidelines available to the public specifing just what a person is required to do to transit a TSA Dragnet Checkpoint.

It is high time for a TSA Screening Passenger Bill of Rights so the public does have recourse to the abuses heap on travelers by Bob's claimed well trained TSA workforce.

Anonymous said...

"Blogger Bob" said:

"Great question! Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple."

Apparently it isn't that simple.

"TSM,Been..." here counters with:

"Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course,we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. "

I'd laugh if it really wasn't so sad....

LTSO with Answers said...

Also TSA needs to use a secret shopper program to evaluate checkpoint procedures. This would be a very effective tool to understanding what is really going on at TSA checkpoints. The public could be enlisted to assist in this endeavor and I believe would be eager to evaluate their screening process.


A good idea! Maybe TSA officers will volunteer to "secret shop" when they fly out for business or pleasure. Require the secret shopper to report anything about the airports they are screened through good or bad.

Dr. Inge said...

I would like to see security camera's installed to monitor employees who search our suitcases. I got robbed coming back to the U.S. This is the second time. My purse is gone (thank God I removed most valuables from it), and several bottles of expensive perfumes from the Middle East. Even if I get my money back, how do I replace these gifts?

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Also TSA needs to use a secret shopper program to evaluate checkpoint procedures. This would be a very effective tool to understanding what is really going on at TSA checkpoints. The public could be enlisted to assist in this endeavor and I believe would be eager to evaluate their screening process.


A good idea! Maybe TSA officers will volunteer to "secret shop" when they fly out for business or pleasure. Require the secret shopper to report anything about the airports they are screened through good or bad.

April 8, 2010 12:39 PM
.............
If you read the archives of this blog you will find that this and other good suggestions on ways to improve TSA were offered by readers.

The Secret Shopper idea was not mine but offered by other active contributors to this blog well over a year ago.

As you know TSA has not embraced suggestions from the public.

Anonymous said...

How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob?
___________________________________
Do some research if you care so much. You can google ANYTHING! I am sure Bob doesn't care. All that matters is what we are doing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob?
___________________________________
Do some research if you care so much. You can google ANYTHING! I am sure Bob doesn't care. All that matters is what we are doing.

April 8, 2010 1:29 PM
______________________________

None would be the correct answer.

Anonymous said...

So what is the standard sized laptop in inches? Is an ultra portable with an 11 inch screen not considered standard? Depending on your definition of a netbook, is a netbook with a 12 inch screen not standard sized? How about a 13 inch screen notebook?

Rocco said...

"TSM,Been..." is a perfect example if why folks hate the TSA. If they can arbitrary break any 'rule' they want, then their are no rules, only guidelines, and vague ones at that.

Which is pretty much the way things are. Many times I've followed the rules regarding things like the war on liquids only to have everything removed anyway. Even though I stuck to the 3oz size rule, I've had my liquids bag torn apart because they didn't like the look of something, or the containers I used, etc etc.

It's annoying and capricious and makes us hate authority when we can't plan for it. It's like why I choose a carryon instead of checked luggage - I don't like dealing with lost luggage or TSA thieves, so I choose to carry on. I need to know sizes allowed, etc. Yet even though the airline may say all this, I've had flights where they announce at the gate I have to check anyway. then its a mad scramble while I remove valuables from my carryon. I've had three family members have valuables stolen from bags FROM TSA APPROVED locks, and never hear back from the TSA for redress (or the police, who simply pass the buck to the TSA again),so I simply cannot trust the TSA with my more expensive things.

I still want to hear how my 10" netbook doesn't need screening and isn't dangerous while my 13" one is.

Dr. Inge said...

I think they also should have the employess initial or stamp w/ a personalized stamp, the cards they put in our luggage after roaming though. That way you can trace back to the thief.

RB said...

Dr. Inge said...
I think they also should have the employess initial or stamp w/ a personalized stamp, the cards they put in our luggage after roaming though. That way you can trace back to the thief.

April 8, 2010 2:56 PM
___________

Agree, an identifying number would be better than initials since a person could claim someone else scribbled the mark.

I worked in a facility where Quality Assurance Inspectors were assigned stamps with a number. Each document for an item inspected had to be stamped and signed. The number was a secondary means to ID the inspector.

TSA needs to show some accountability to travelers on the way their baggage is protected from theft while out of custody of the owner. This would include while being handled by airline/airport workers. After all, if a person has access they could place contraband in a checked bag and we all know that TSA does not require 100% screening of its employees or of other airport workers who have sterile area access.

TSA is concerned about safety, right?

Anonymous said...

"Do some research if you care so much. You can google ANYTHING! I am sure Bob doesn't care. All that matters is what we are doing."

Bob's the official TSA blogger and the one who keeps claiming that the shoe carnival is the only thing keeping planes from falling from the sky. He's a big boy who can answer questions all by himself.

Blogger Bob said...

TSM, been here.... said...Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse. April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

----------------------------

I'm hoping I read this correctly when I approved it, but I'm thinking I may have read too fast. I took it as:

(paraphrased) You're allowed to keep them in your bag, but we're allowed to take them out if they need to be searched.

TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport? Please clarify... You can e-mail me at tsablog@dhs.gov if you like.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

Blogger Bob said...
TSM, been here.... said...Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse. April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

----------------------------

I'm hoping I read this correctly when I approved it, but I'm thinking I may have read too fast. I took it as:

(paraphrased) You're allowed to keep them in your bag, but we're allowed to take them out if they need to be searched.

TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport? Please clarify... You can e-mail me at tsablog@dhs.gov if you like.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 8, 2010 3:25 PM
..................
Bob, I see you and other TSA employees referencing your SOP's often.

Does SOP stand for "STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES" at TSA like it does in the rest of the world?

Sandra said...

BB wrote:

"TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport?"

BB, this happens every day at every checkpoint: screeners making up "rules" on the spot.

Can you now understand why so many people are calling for rules to be published and for consistency from the TSA?

Anonymous said...

"TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport?"

Of course that's what he meant, Bob. Your agency's twisted rules don't just allow this sort of thing, they encourage it. Screeners make up policies on the spot because they feel like it in every airport, every day, with no concern whatsoever for their impact on innocent people trying to fly from point A to point B. Why on earth would this possibly surprise you? And why is THIS the incident that's made you aware of this sad fact? Have you just not flown on an airplane any time since your agency went insane in 2006?

avxo said...

Suzi-Q wrote: "Thanks for your responsiveness. Managing such a large workforce (and keeping consistency across it!) is quite the task."

I'm not one of the TSA and/or Bob-bashers on here, although I can be critical; there is a difference! But this blog is way too unreal to not comment on it.

I'm not sure you can call the blog team "responsive" in the sense that we sometimes go for days without having a single comment approved and posted. While I'm sure that moderating the large volume of comments that this blog invariably gets is tedious and time-consuming, I don't think that a 3 day comment-approval turnover time qualifies as responsive.

Second, I don't know if Bob actually has another job within the TSA, but if he does, I very much doubt he personally manages the agency's "large workforce." Not that whoever does is doing all that good a job either...

What "consistency" are you referring to? Even accounting for the agency's randomized screening protocols, there's exactly zero consistency. In LAS shoes go in the bin; but in LAX they don't. In LAX laptops come out of the "laptop-friendly" bags; in MSP they don't. These aren't the only examples. A reading of the previous posts on this blog will uncover more.

I could go on, but if this blog documents nothing else, it documents the inconsistent, and at times capricious, application of the actual rules -- and on more than a few occasions, the application of a number of made-up rules -- by TSOs.

TSOWilliamReed said...

Bottom line about this is that if we can't tell whats in your bag then we have to search it and x-ray it again with some items outside of the bag to make it easier to tell what is in your bag. Electronic gadgets make x-raying bags very difficult due to all the internal components and things, they make the bag appear very cluttered and hard to see in. So if you have a couple gadgets in your bag then the TSO's may have to remove them so they can see through your bag easier.

avxo said...

TSM been here wrote: "We routinely ask that these things be taken out so that we can get a better look as these items usually make it more difficult for some people to read the xray image."

If you ask, that would imply that we actually have the right to refuse to take things out. And it's pretty clear that we don't.

Remember, that unlike all other voluntary encounters with agents of the government -- from clerks at town hall, to police officers, to FBI agents -- we cannot just end the interaction with the TSA at any time. Instead we are compelled to cooperate with and complete the screening.

In that context, TSM, you don't ask. You order. There is a difference.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it’s time that RB, AngryMiller, Adrian, and of course the various Anonymous Posters out there realize that the TSA is not going to screen passengers how these folks would like. TSA’s limited history shows that they are going to screen passengers however they need to mitigate the threat. If that means that they have to remove Kindles, net-books, or home made electronic devices, then that is not only what they are going to do but what they SHOULD do. This includes the addition of new and better screening technology, new procedures, and new ideas.

None of that is ever going to meet the needs of those who cannot ever stop complaining. TSA knows this, so they are going to screen to the best of their abilities and deal with the complaints however they must. At least you “can” complain, it’s nice to live in a country where you can voice your concerns, even if they make no sense.

LTSO with Answers said...

Dr. Inge said...

I think they also should have the employess initial or stamp w/ a personalized stamp, the cards they put in our luggage after roaming though. That way you can trace back to the thief.


That will merely put the blame always on TSA and that officer that checks your bag when that may not be the case. The bags are not in TSA control once we clear them so other entities such as airport workers and airlines could steal from baggage once it has left TSA control. I can tell you at my airport and probably most airports have cameras watching us search bags for our protection of such accusations. Not every airport may have cameras though so it is a problem but not only with bad apples in TSA. Thank you for your suggestion.

Andy Foster said...

What constitutes a "standard sized" laptop? I own both a 12 inch MSI Windows 7 laptop and a 13 inch MacBook Pro. Both are smaller than the average 14-15 inch laptops most folks carry, but I don't know I want to risk going through the line a second time or getting stopped with either.

CCEMT-P said...

Blogger Bob said...

TSM, been here.... said...Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse. April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

----------------------------

I'm hoping I read this correctly when I approved it, but I'm thinking I may have read too fast. I took it as:

(paraphrased) You're allowed to keep them in your bag, but we're allowed to take them out if they need to be searched.

TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport? Please clarify... You can e-mail me at tsablog@dhs.gov if you like.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team



-------------------------------

Bob

See this is what posters on this blog have been saying for a long time. This is the attitude, inconsistency (of rules and application), retaliation, and rules being made up on the spot. This is why many have been asking for ALL of the rules to be published for a long time. This isnt a suprise to most especially since TSM position is a management position. Which anyone with deductive reasoning skills means the problems goes from the top all the way to the bottom

in anycase i see a CYA coming

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bob, they do create their own rules at every airports (sometimes at every checkpoint). We've been saying that for as long as this blog has been up and running. TSORon says that every airport is different. Doesn't sound like the SOP is very standard.

Anonymous said...

"Also TSA needs to use a secret shopper program to evaluate checkpoint procedures. This would be a very effective tool to understanding what is really going on at TSA checkpoints. The public could be enlisted to assist in this endeavor and I believe would be eager to evaluate their screening process."

That's an idea that has been floated by posters here before.

When I have my "Sorry can't take my shoes off for medical reasons" and "You aren't following SOP with this search" discussion with a screener and they ask me howcome I know their SOP, I answer, "I'm one of the secret shoppers."

Ahh, the looks they get on their faces, so cute.

Randy said...

My CPAP is smaller than a laptop . . . does it have to come out?

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bob said...
TSM, been here.... said...Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse. April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

----------------------------

I'm hoping I read this correctly when I approved it, but I'm thinking I may have read too fast. I took it as:

(paraphrased) You're allowed to keep them in your bag, but we're allowed to take them out if they need to be searched.

TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport? Please clarify... You can e-mail me at tsablog@dhs.gov if you like.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

**********

Now do you get what happens to passengers every dat Bob. TSO's who create their own policies and passengers who have no redress because telling them I saw it on the blog or the TSA website does not work.

There are no rules for TSO's, just guidelines and this post makes it clear how passengers are treated.

adb said...

If only the workers actually read this blog...

Flying LaGuardia to Detroit first thing Thursday morning, sent my messenger bag through; it had an iPad, a Kindle, a couple of chargers, and an electric razor--e.g., minimal packing for an overnight trip. While I was on the other side putting on my shoes, belt, etc, I was told I had to take my iPad out of my bag. I had to walk it back through, setting off the metal detectors, send it through on its own, take off my shoes, belt, etc, and walk BACK through the metal detector.

I'll file an official report as well.

Blogger Bob said...

Anonymous said... How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob? April 8, 2010 11:35 AM
------------------------------

Passengers traveling around the world will encounter a variety of levels of footwear screening ranging from random to 100%.

For example, at eight Canadian airports, one Irish airport, and four islands (Bermuda, Aruba, and two in The Bahamas), pre-clearance operations take place.

At all of these locations, Customs and Border Protection Officers are forward deployed to conduct immigration, customs, and agriculture screening of passengers flying to the United States.

In order to permit these passengers to disembark into the domestic terminals at their U.S. destinations (and avoid re-processing by CBP or re-screening by TSA), we ensure that the domestic security measures employed by TSA are essentially replicated at those 13 airports.

100% screening of footwear is part of the enhanced security.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Dan said...

Blogger Bob said...

Anonymous said... How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob? April 8, 2010 11:35 AM
------------------------------

Passengers traveling around the world will encounter a variety of levels of footwear screening ranging from random to 100%.

For example, at eight Canadian airports, one Irish airport, and four islands (Bermuda, Aruba, and two in The Bahamas), pre-clearance operations take place.

At all of these locations, Customs and Border Protection Officers are forward deployed to conduct immigration, customs, and agriculture screening of passengers flying to the United States.

In order to permit these passengers to disembark into the domestic terminals at their U.S. destinations (and avoid re-processing by CBP or re-screening by TSA), we ensure that the domestic security measures employed by TSA are essentially replicated at those 13 airports.

100% screening of footwear is part of the enhanced security.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 9, 2010 3:41 PM

==================================

Okay Bob as of 341 pm you have ignored all of the other questions posted here, including the questions about a member of TSA management violating the SOP (if there is even one, since its obvious to most travelers it isnt followed anyways).


The question you decided to spin are preclearence facilities for flights bound for the US. I have flown through aruba plenty of times and outside of the US bound flights i havent had to to go through the Charade TSA demands. yet none of those flights has had a problem.

So let me modify the OP question. What countries and airports require the shoe carnival among other things for flights not destined for the US.

Mike E. said...

I'm curious how often Blogger Bob goes through TSA checkpoints as a flying "customer" and how many different airports he uses.

LAX - liquids can stay in luggage
PHX - liquids must be removed!

SNA - shoes can be on the conveyor belt
SEA - shoes in bins only!

LGB - laptops in TSA approved bags are ok
LAS - laptops visible in a bin!

There is no consistency between airports as far as I can tell.

tericee said...

Still a problem at JAX: http://twitter.com/charleneli/status/11896837312

HappyToHelp said...

Randy said...
"My CPAP is smaller than a laptop . . . does it have to come out?"

Yes. Pulling out a CPAP has to do with the CPAP's dense components.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

Blogger Bob said...
Anonymous said... How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob? April 8, 2010 11:35 AM
------------------------------

Passengers traveling around the world will encounter a variety of levels of footwear screening ranging from random to 100%.

For example, at eight Canadian airports, one Irish airport, and four islands (Bermuda, Aruba, and two in The Bahamas), pre-clearance operations take place.

At all of these locations, Customs and Border Protection Officers are forward deployed to conduct immigration, customs, and agriculture screening of passengers flying to the United States.

In order to permit these passengers to disembark into the domestic terminals at their U.S. destinations (and avoid re-processing by CBP or re-screening by TSA), we ensure that the domestic security measures employed by TSA are essentially replicated at those 13 airports.

100% screening of footwear is part of the enhanced security.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 9, 2010 3:41 PM
...............
That 100% screening of footwear is only for flights headed to the US, correct Bob.

No other country in the world requirs 100% shoe screening unless the destination is the United States.

If your going to tell the story then tell the whole story.

RB said...

Blogger Bob said...
TSM, been here.... said...Bottom line is just because we state in this blog or on our website that you are not required to take these out as a matter of course, we are also allowed to go beyond the baseline. If we ask that these items be taken out, we are not breaking any rules. Therefore, no recourse. April 8, 2010 11:31 AM

----------------------------

I'm hoping I read this correctly when I approved it, but I'm thinking I may have read too fast. I took it as:

(paraphrased) You're allowed to keep them in your bag, but we're allowed to take them out if they need to be searched.

TSM, Am I interpreting this correctly? Did you really mean you would create your own rules at your airport? Please clarify... You can e-mail me at tsablog@dhs.gov if you like.

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

April 8, 2010 3:25 PM
.............
So how did TSM answer?

I suspect he told you exactly what happens at airports, they make it up as they go!

Anonymous said...

"Passengers traveling around the world will encounter a variety of levels of footwear screening ranging from random to 100%.

For example, at eight Canadian airports, one Irish airport, and four islands (Bermuda, Aruba, and two in The Bahamas), pre-clearance operations take place.

At all of these locations, Customs and Border Protection Officers are forward deployed to conduct immigration, customs, and agriculture screening of passengers flying to the United States.

In order to permit these passengers to disembark into the domestic terminals at their U.S. destinations (and avoid re-processing by CBP or re-screening by TSA), we ensure that the domestic security measures employed by TSA are essentially replicated at those 13 airports.

100% screening of footwear is part of the enhanced security."

Bob, is the proper translation of this answer into English "one, the United States, plus a handful of airports in a handful other countries that the US has browbeaten into doing so"?

Anonymous said...

Ok, let me try to explain some of what the problems are from both sides of the aisle. The general rule is close to what we all see daily, usually you will not have to remove your small electronics from your bag, unless you have every charge cord possible stored in the same bag as your DVD player, or your 11 or 12 inch laptop along with the same type of cords, which people have a nack for doing. We say things like usually or you should not have to, but some people will have to. The problem exists because not everyone on the xray have the same experience has someone else. I have been driving a car for almost 40 years. I have been to defensive driving courses, I have been trained for extreme conditions, I drive better then most people, but I am not perfect. I can say with 100% confidence that I drive better then my 22 year old son, who has been driving for only 6 years. The same can be said for those that you may run into who are trying to still learn on the xray, which is a daily thing, we get better with time, and you get better by seeing more and looking into more bags. That is the reality. Another example, we (TSA) say that you can take a cane with you when you travel, or you can take a walk stick, but you are not going to be able to take a club, and if someone thinks that your cane looks like a club, then you may not be able to take your "club" and use it for a cane. I once had to tell someone that the axe handle that he was using for a cane was not going to be allowed to go past the checkpoint, we got him a wheelchair, had someone take his axe handle down to the airlines, and he was picked up at his destination in a wheel chair and was able to pick up his axe handle that way. Now before anyone starts, axe handles are not canes, and I really dont care what you want to call it, it is still and axe handle. Minor examples but I hope that you understand that when someone says something like "you should be able" or "there should be no reason that you can not", or "that should be fine", that may not be the last word, and of course the one who tells you no does usually have the last word, it will usually not be the person who you thought told you yes, and sometimes that may be here on the blog. Just trying to tell the truth, but I will get slammed here, but what else is new. Danny BDO

AngryMiller said...

Anonymous said:

Maybe it’s time that RB, AngryMiller, Adrian, and of course the various Anonymous Posters out there realize that the TSA is not going to screen passengers how these folks would like. TSA’s limited history shows that they are going to screen passengers however they need to mitigate the threat. If that means that they have to remove Kindles, net-books, or home made electronic devices, then that is not only what they are going to do but what they SHOULD do. This includes the addition of new and better screening technology, new procedures, and new ideas.

None of that is ever going to meet the needs of those who cannot ever stop complaining. TSA knows this, so they are going to screen to the best of their abilities and deal with the complaints however they must. At least you “can” complain, it’s nice to live in a country where you can voice your concerns, even if they make no sense.


I will keep hammering on TSA for the overall lack of professionalism at the checkpoints. Improve professionalism and you will take care of many of the problems. Until then you're going to have to put up with the broken record.

Anonymous said...

For example, at eight Canadian airports, one Irish airport, and four islands (Bermuda, Aruba, and two in The Bahamas), pre-clearance operations take place.,

Uh, Bob, isn't that number an incredibly small number when you factor in the number of airports around the world?

LTSO with Answers said...

Randy said...

My CPAP is smaller than a laptop . . . does it have to come out?


Randy current procedures for CPAP machines are to have them removed seperately from luggage/bags for x-ray inspection. Nothing on top of or underneath the CPAP when it goes through the x-ray.

Sean said...

I believe there also needs to be some education about what the products are. I just passed though the security screening, i took my full sized laptop out of my bag, but left my netbook in. My bag was stopped, i was asked if i had a laptop in there. I replied it was a netbook. His reply was..."whatever it is, you need to come take it out of the bag, and make sure you take it out next time" Apparently the word on this hasn't reached Orlando.

Ted said...

I may soon switch from a 15" to an 11" laptop, so I'd really like to know what counts as "standard" and what counts as "netbook" size. I keep hearing that 13" "laptops" are popular, so I would guess 13" is still a "laptop"; meanwhile, many "netbooks" seem to be 11" or smaller. So if it were up to me, I'd consider the 11" "smaller than a standard laptop" -- but it's not up to me. It would be very helpful to have some guidelines on this. (And what about the 12" laptops that are out there? I almost bought one...if I had I would have NO IDEA AT ALL whether to take it out of my bag.)

Anonymous said...

Is this a rule or just an opinion? I have nothing official to show the next screener I meet. I have seen nothing on the regular TSA site regarding this, in fact when I do a search for netbooks nothing comes up.The screener I asked yesterday (4/11) knew nothing about this.

Rocco said...

Bob:

Please post official guidelines on what a 'normal sized laptop' is. I want to speed through security and need to know what is ok to leave in the bag. If the answer is "whatever we feel like" then don't say there's a rule about, just be honest and say that the size is discretionary.

I'd love to hear why a 10" laptop isn't dangerous and a 13" one is, but I'm not holding my breath on the "war on e-readers". In the absence of that, a simple posted guideline would be nice.

And I'm asking a simple "what is the rule" question here, so all the TSO's who's standard response is either a) whatever we say b) if you don't have anything to hide, why do you care and c) flying is a privileged, not a right...I know guys, you don't believe in personal freedom in your zone of enforcement. It's OK. No need to belabor the point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Blogger team at TSA!

I am really glad you've clarified this, and I understand it. I just went through screening at PHX Terminal 4 at 8:15 am, and was informed to take my iPad out of my checkpoint-friendly bag. No problem.

When the screener then put the iPad face down (glass on the plastic) and I went to turn it over to protect the device, he raised his voice in an uncomfortable way. Not OK. When someone does that, the normal human instinct is to freeze and not know what to do next.

He then proceeded to lecture me on why I shouldn't be carrying around as many electronic devices as I do.

Now, is this really the role of a TSA Security officer, to tell me how many electronic devices I can carry? Should I cross-inform him/them about how much food they eat during the day? Neither is appropriate.

I just wanted to let you know, because I do believe you care, that it doesn't instill confidence in the agency if your personnel are going to focus on things that (a) are of no material importance to them and (b) don't impact safety.

By all means, screen and keep the skies safe. Keep your judgements about how Americans can and should travel to yourself.

Much appreciated,

poorly-treated-traveler

charliereece said...

Dear Blogger Bob,

After reading this blog post, I chose to take my netbook on a recent trip to Colorado rather than my full-sized laptop. At 6:15am on Friday, April 9th, I arrived at the security checkpoint at RDU's Terminal 1 and placed my carry-on bag on the x-ray conveyor along with my shoes.

When I got to the other side of the metal detector, a TSA screener approached me with my bag and asked if I had a laptop computer in the bag. I replied that no, I had a netbook, and that pursuant to the most recent TSA policies I was not required to remove a netbook for screening. The screener frowned at me and said, "But you have to take your laptop out of your bag!"

I tried to explain the difference between a laptop and a netbook, but the screener explained to me that, because my netbook was "bigger than a DVD player" that I needed to remove it from my bag and send it through the metal detector separately.

I complied with the directions of the screener and went back through the security checkpoint. As I was putting my netbook back into my bag on the other side of the x-ray conveyor, the screener made a point to approach me again and lecture me on the proper procedures when going through an airport security checkpoint with a laptop. I replied that she had apparently not received the most recent guidance from TSA and that she should check with her superiors at her next opportunity.

At all times I was cordial and polite. By contrast, the TSA screener in question seemed alternately rude, condescending, confused, and angry that a member of the public would suggest that she did not understand the current screening guidelines.

Blogger Bob, I understand that TSA has the right to request that I remove my netbook from my bag for additional screening, and I have no problem with that. But this blog assured me in no uncertain terms that I did not need to remove my netbook from my bag prior to screening, and my reliance on that assurance caused me to be delayed at the security checkpoint, lectured by an ill-informed screener, and embarrassed in front of other travelers.

In the future, please make sure that the workforce is "refreshed" on changes in screening procedures before assuring the readers of this blog that those changes are in effect.


Sincerely,
Charlie Reece

RB said...

Gosh Bob after reading the comments on this thread it looks like your claim of well trained TSA employees is just a figment of your imagination.

Want to explain why all of these people are getting treated differently than what your telling us?

Anonymous said...

This is just the people who received poor treatment from the security screeners. Have you tried getting a supervisor involved? If so, any luck in getting any issues resolved?

Just curious. :)

Jake said...

Thanks for the update, but I'm curious when we'll be allowed to use e-readers during take-off and landing? Surely we're ready to move past this ridiculous idea that my wifi receiver is going to somehow crash the plane, right?

Now that I can avoid carrying paper books and magazines, I'd like to be able to use my e-reader at all time.

Any feedback?

masteinhorn said...

Is this an opinion or a rule? I've seen nothing on your main site regarding this. The screener I asked 2 days ago knew nothing about it. In short, there is nothing in black and white I could show a screener that would allow me to keep my netbook in my suitcase.

Anonymous said...

Jake said: "Thanks for the update, but I'm curious when we'll be allowed to use e-readers during take-off and landing? Surely we're ready to move past this ridiculous idea that my wifi receiver is going to somehow crash the plane, right?"

That's a good question. It's also an issue for the FAA, and not the TSA.

charliereece said...

This is in response to the commenter who asked if anyone that had received poor treatment had asked to speak to a supervisor.

This suggestion actually speaks to the asymmetry between the traveling public and TSA screeners at security checkpoints -- as a traveler, I need to get to my gate and board my plane, whereas the TSA screener has no such need to get through the checkpoint. Therefore, any request on my part to attempt to escalate the incident to a supervisor triggers at the very least a further delay above and beyond that entailed in merely going back through the screening process with my netbook out of my bag and on the x-ray conveyor. Add to that the possibility that speaking to a supervisor might well lead to the very same result (being forced to go back through security), or even worse being subjected to additional screening procedures, and I think it's fair to say that there are few incentives to ask to speak to a supervisor in this kind of incident.

But that's just my two cents.

MarkVII said...

Hi Bob --

I found your recent comment that checkpoint personnel shouldn't be "scolding" passengers very interesting, in light of reports of being "lectured", as well as my own experiences with being flat-out yelled at.

Given the varying implementations of the TSA's rules, (not to mention the number of screeners who obviously "didn't get the memo" relative to netbooks), the checkpoint personnel are in no position to start pontificating.

After getting yelled at for no good reason on four trips in a row (I wanted to back up this observation with a few anecdotes, but the blog said my post was too long), I simply stopped flying. At least I can drive down the Interstate with my "liquids, gels and aerosols", electronics, pocket knife, or whatever else and be unmolested. I can lock my belongings in my vehicle, and they'll be reasonably secure.

I simply don't understand the fondness for being so confrontational. Why does clearing a situation have to be made into a public spectacle?

For all the PR speak about how the TSA holds it people to the highest standards of behavior, I find the continuing reports of rude screeners quite interesting.

Once again, it's time for my pet suggestion -- proactive measures the ensure passengers are being treated correctly (i.e.: secret shoppers).

Mark
qui custodiet ipsos custodes

Anonymous said...

Jake, that depends on what airline you fly. Some are testing in flight wireless internet. The take off and landing use probably won't happen for a while because electronics interfere with communications between the pilots and the tower.

Anonymous said...

"Want to explain why all of these people are getting treated differently than what your telling us?"

Because TSA's workforce is unprofessional and poorly screened.

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to report that I left my iPad in my bag at ORD and had no problems. I really expected the worse.

Anonymous said...

Security measure is in direct proportion to the [perceived and actual] security threat.

SO, stop gripping as if TSA steps on your fav pet when they ask to examine your carry-on.

Sebastian from Cologne said...

Israel bans import of IPads. Not because of security issues: The Ipad consumes too much capacity on wireless networks and could disrupt other devices.

NY Times

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Newark airport Terminal A, where screeners are requiring passengers to remove all electronics "that don't fit in your pocket," including Ipads and Kindles. Looks like more training is needed here.

Steve Scottsdale said...

I'm going to go off-topic but having just been to PHX & seeing it happen several times in the past several weeks through the x-ray, I need to comment.

I understand the need to train x-ray screeners & that neophytes are unsure of themselves. But if someone is in training, at least have an old hand looking over the newby's shoulder. Twice I've gone thru screening with the newby unsure, looking at the screen, wondering; calling over another newby & now we have two newbies pointing to the questionable area but both unsure. Meanwhile the line piles up. Sometimes they decide to re-screen, thinking it's going to look differently the next time but it never does.

Today it was a young lady, chewing gum, leaning against the wall behind her (Terminal 3, North concourse) smiling, giggling & not deciding.

Finally (today it was over 5 minutes altho it seemed like forever), a three striper (the shoulder epaulettes)showed up, made a decision, walked away & we move on; only to be repeated one or two inspections later.

So please TSA, if you're going to train, you need not only the trainee but a trainer, working together. Make the go or no-go decision (no-go meaning a separate inspection)& move on.

The idea that staring at a screen for several minutes will add information is not working.

Marcus said...

I thought the Nintendo Wii was smaller than a laptop. So netbook OK, Wii not OK. Thanks for the clarification, not that I plan on taking my Nintendo anywhere.

Anonymous said...

all i see are negatives about the screeners ,they are trying to keep you safe!!screening is a difficult job and sometimes the objects in the bag come through at a funny angle so the screener may request it be removed or search the bag.let the people do their job!if the airlines did theirs and restricted the amount of items passengers took on a plane everyone would win.if you dont need it with you check it in thats how i travel its so much easier ,tsa guys keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Instead of coming up with a rule that says "all electronics under x inches may stay in the back," why not just bring ALL electronics out for safety reasons? I'll bet that once you give free passage to all electronics x-inches and under, then some fool will bring on/design something dangerous under that limit. The issue is safety, no? I'm willing to be a little inconvenienced to feel safe in the skies.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said "Greetings from Newark airport Terminal A, where screeners are requiring passengers to remove all electronics "that don't fit in your pocket," including Ipads and Kindles. Looks like more training is needed here."

It's not about training. It's about information. The sad fact is that, in this case, the public got the information BEFORE the screening workforce did. You can't expect TSOs to enforce changes they weren't given. They should not be receiving any change even one minute AFTER the public. Many of you read the blog and then fly the next day. Many of them come back from their days off and don't get briefed on changes right away. Blame the higher ups for this - don't take it out on the workforce.
Also, there are sometimes additional screening measures in place for checkpoints that change on a daily basis which could include the removal of all electronics so they may actually be aware of the change and may have instead been enforcing an additional screening measure at that checkpoint. Not saying this is the case, but just something to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

charliereece said...

This suggestion actually speaks to the asymmetry between the traveling public and TSA screeners at security checkpoints -- as a traveler, I need to get to my gate and board my plane, whereas the TSA screener has no such need to get through the checkpoint. Therefore, any request on my part to attempt to escalate the incident to a supervisor triggers at the very least a further delay above and beyond that entailed in merely going back through the screening process with my netbook out of my bag and on the x-ray conveyor. Add to that the possibility that speaking to a supervisor might well lead to the very same result (being forced to go back through security), or even worse being subjected to additional screening procedures, and I think it's fair to say that there are few incentives to ask to speak to a supervisor in this kind of incident.

My Response:

If you have at least 1 hour to spare before your flight after going through security, then you should have enough time to talk to a supervisor. If I am not mistaken, it is supposed to be TSA's policy to immediately get a supervisor (without retaliation unless the passenger is being hostile) when requested. It was even the blog's suggestion as well??? If you are retaliated by either or, then you should immediately talk to a manager (either TSA or airport) and let them know of your experience. Maybe it will help, maybe it won't.

Unfortunately, the Got Feedback program didn't work for me (Sorry Bob...twice twice w/o any response. If you want to chat with me personally, please feel free to e-mail me at Arun @ cyberdolphins . org (remove the spaces)). Sent some constructive feedback (mostly suggestions and no complaints) and requested a reply, but no response. Thus, this is why my suggestion of immediately talking to someone might be a better choice?

In addition, if you do get detained or arrested w/o legal justification (and can prove it), you should immediately file legal action against the offenders.

Just my 2 cents. ;)

Anonymous said...

Flew out of Juneau, Alaska a few days ago and they are making people take out portable dvd players. What is the rule? No one is following what you tell us Bob.

Mike said...

I just went through security at the Atlanta airport and due to all the issues I have read on this blog, I printed this page and put a copy in my bag... I was traveling with 2 computers, one full sized work laptop and one personal netbook... I took the laptop out of my bag, but left the netbook inside my suitcase.

predictably, the screener asked me if I had a computer in my bag. I told him there was a netbook inside and he told me I needed to step to the side and he would need to open my bag and look inside.

when he opened the bag, I took out the printed page and explained to him that the TSA allows keeping netbooks inside the bag. He told me that it didnt matter what the website says, they make everyone take them out.

Its quite frustrating for the average citizen when the published rules are not being followed. In their defense, they were quite polite about the issue and neither of us wanted to make a federal case out of it.

There obviously needs to be more education of the screeners.

TSM West said...

Bob, why do you keep avoiding some of these comments. Your silence is giving the impression that our TSO's and even TSM Been there have no clue about what our procedures are. The fact of the matter is (and I believe this is what TSM Been there was trying to say)that our screening force has been given the authority to use their personal experiences and network to make decisions not specifically outlined in the SOP. This is one of the main causes of the confusion to the traveling public and one of our best layers of security. As far as the notebooks are concerned, if they come through unobstructed there should be no reason for them to be removed. But TSO x-ray experience, orientation of the object and other factors my cause concern for the x-ray operator and they may have to be removed to allow a better view of the bag and it's contents. It's been a while since I've worked the x-ray, but I can honestly say that I couldn't tell you if the notebook is 11 inches or 12 inches just by the image. We all know that there are a number of factors that could cause the x-ray operator to require any object to be removed from the bag. That doesn't mean that they are not following procedures. It just means they are serious about security and have the mind set that nothing bad is going to get past them. I for one don't consider that a bad quality for a professional especially one tasked with ensuring the safety of others.

I also see a lot of complaints of TSO's being rude and lecturing passengers. I don't believe thats the intention of a majority of the TSO's. I honestly believe they are just trying to inform the passenger to help them get through security better the next time they fly. Remember the TSO doesn't know you're a frequent flyer. I spend a lot of time at our screening locations and observe our workforce. Mostly because I believe there should be a fair balance between customer service and security, but also because I read this blog and I do hear your concerns. If I see bad behavior I correct it right on the spot. Believe me I do use corrective and disciplanary action. But I have also seen the other side where the passenger was 100% at fault and tried to lie and blame the whole incident on the TSO. The TSO gets disciplined for thier bad behavior, but the passenger doesn't. I understand your concerns but I also see both sides. At my airport no TSO will get a free pass on bad behavior. I just hope that the traveling public understands there are some of us out here looking out for them as well as our employees.

Randolph said...

There is nothing in the new policy that prohibits an officer from requesting that electronics other than standard sized laptops are removed prior to xray. All the new policy does is remind officers that a requirement to remove kindles, Ipads, etc. is non-existent. I think that security would suffer if there were a blanket prohibition on officers requesting that specific electronics are removed prior to x-ray. At the end of the day, property is easier to screen when electronics are removed. When an officer requests that electronics are removed prior to x-ray it is done to promote a better, more efficient, and effective screening process. In laymen's terms...they're just trying to find bombs and guns...they're not trying to piss you off! Get over yourselves...lol

Anonymous said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but
TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE FIRST! Then implement a new rule.

Anonymous said...

Instead of griping all the way through the airport (and, YES, beating the dead horse), why not:

Pack light and organized.

Be able to present the content of your belongings when requested by authorized personnels. You don't own the airport and unlikely to be in the position to dictate the details of the security protocols, after all, Anonymous A, B & C.

Jim Huggins said...

Randolph writes:

There is nothing in the new policy that prohibits an officer from requesting that electronics other than standard sized laptops are removed prior to xray. All the new policy does is remind officers that a requirement to remove kindles, Ipads, etc. is non-existent.

So, in other words, there's absolutely no change here, since any TSO can require separate examination of any item at any time for any reason --- regardless of the agency's national policies?

See, this is one maddening thing about TSA's operating procedures. How is a passenger supposed to know how to navigate a checkpoint if the procedures to be followed change at the whim of those performing them?

RB said...

Randolph said...
There is nothing in the new policy that prohibits an officer from requesting that electronics other than standard sized laptops are removed prior to xray. All the new policy does is remind officers that a requirement to remove kindles, Ipads, etc. is non-existent. I think that security would suffer if there were a blanket prohibition on officers requesting that specific electronics are removed prior to x-ray. At the end of the day, property is easier to screen when electronics are removed. When an officer requests that electronics are removed prior to x-ray it is done to promote a better, more efficient, and effective screening process. In laymen's terms...they're just trying to find bombs and guns...they're not trying to piss you off! Get over yourselves...lol

April 17, 2010 5:58 PM
............
If TSA employees are requesting removal before xray then that contributes to the confusion factor.

Screen the bag and if you can't tell whats what then do a bag check.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Backlash from the TSA workforce?

Anonymous said...

TSM West said; "At my airport..."

Which airport is that please?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
all i see are negatives about the screeners ,they are trying to keep you safe!!screening is a difficult job and sometimes the objects in the bag come through at a funny angle so the screener may request it be removed or search the bag.let the people do their job!if the airlines did theirs and restricted the amount of items passengers took on a plane everyone would win.if you dont need it with you check it in thats how i travel its so much easier ,tsa guys keep up the good work.

April 15, 2010 7:47 PM
................
So check unneeded items is your solution to this problem.

Airlines state to not place computers, cameras or other expensive electronics/items in checked baggage.

Because they get stolen!

Also neither the airlines nor TSA will take responsibility for the thieves in their employ and TSA makes locking a bag with any kind of real lock near impossible..

You go ahead and check this kind of stuff, the rest of us will take our chances with carry on.

RB said...

It's not about training. It's about information. The sad fact is that, in this case, the public got the information BEFORE the screening workforce did. You can't expect TSOs to enforce changes they weren't given.

April 16, 2010 11:59 AM

Like the fiasco with shoes on the belt/shoes in the bins that TSA majorly screwed up last year?

What is it about TSA that prevents proper training and deployment of new procedures and the workforce that just makes it up as you go?

Anonymous said...

RB said
"Like the fiasco with shoes on the belt/shoes in the bins that TSA majorly screwed up last year?

What is it about TSA that prevents proper training and deployment of new procedures and the workforce that just makes it up as you go?"

Yes, exactly like the belt/shoes in the bin situation. When that change came out, TSOs were originally told shoes had to be out of the bins (or at least the guidance implied that). It wasn't until passengers voiced their complaints about possible shoe damage on the Blog that it was re-stated as an "advisement" not a requirement. By that time, thousands of TSOs had heard only of the "requirement" and not the amendment to an "advisement". Unfortunately, not every TSO reads the Blog and the Blog is not a place for them to get guidance. Blogger Bob, as wonderful as he is in providing information to the public and clarifying procedure, cannot give direction to the workforce - that has to come from management. TSOs cannot implement changes that are posted on the Blog but have not been given to them from their chain of command. But, maybe if passengers continue to exprese their displeasure in the way information is filtered down to those who need it most, something will change. Whether you believe it or not, many of those on the line are just as frustrated as you are.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said
"Like the fiasco with shoes on the belt/shoes in the bins that TSA majorly screwed up last year?

What is it about TSA that prevents proper training and deployment of new procedures and the workforce that just makes it up as you go?"

Yes, exactly like the belt/shoes in the bin situation. When that change came out, TSOs were originally told shoes had to be out of the bins (or at least the guidance implied that). It wasn't until passengers voiced their complaints about possible shoe damage on the Blog that it was re-stated as an "advisement" not a requirement. By that time, thousands of TSOs had heard only of the "requirement" and not the amendment to an "advisement". Unfortunately, not every TSO reads the Blog and the Blog is not a place for them to get guidance. Blogger Bob, as wonderful as he is in providing information to the public and clarifying procedure, cannot give direction to the workforce - that has to come from management. TSOs cannot implement changes that are posted on the Blog but have not been given to them from their chain of command. But, maybe if passengers continue to exprese their displeasure in the way information is filtered down to those who need it most, something will change. Whether you believe it or not, many of those on the line are just as frustrated as you are.

April 20, 2010 8:46 AM
......................
The problems you state makes providing the traveling public with a concise list of rules that must be complied with when transiting a TSA checkpoint a must.

The public has every right to know what they must do as well as the screeners.

This making up rules, not knowing the policy by screeners is unacceptable.

But unacceptable pretty much describes TSA!

8675309 said...

"How many countries force every passenger to remove their shoes for screening, Bob?"

I flew out of Mexico last week and 100% of passengers were required to remove their shoes before they could board the aircraft.

So far I've flown out of 2 different countries and had to remove my shoes at 100% of them. So in my experience, the answer to your question is "100%".

Anonymous said...

"I flew out of Mexico last week and 100% of passengers were required to remove their shoes before they could board the aircraft"

Were you flying within Mexico?

Or to the US?

Did Mexico want you to remove your shoes? Or were they required by the US to have you remove them?

WinterHawk said...

Blogger Bob, I travel every every week. You mentioned that we should not have to remove our ipads, and if another response that we shouldn't be scolded. When
Is the last time you went through a checkpoint?

After two years of traveling with a kindle, they suddenly started scolding me for leaving it in my bag, and running the bag and iPad back through the xray. They apparently also started to dislike the gps mount I travel with that has gone through for years - every week.

Since getting my iPad, I have been scolded three times for leaving it in my bag, twice for taking it out and three times it went through fine...

In my experience the security agents need lessons on being civil and another in being consistent. At O'Hare terminal three they are either flirting with each other and don't care what goes through or they are being rude to passengers. Try going thru there on a Thursday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

What on earth is the "secondary" screening at the gate for except to clearly harass the flying public? We supposedly were thoroughly screened just a bit ago at the security checkpoint. Now we have to be screened again at the gate? REALLY? PS, your TSA's should listen to the announcements that the gate agents make about delays. I witnessed them being fairly rude and demanding to gate agents when a plane was delayed for a flat tire. I mean the gate agents had enough to deal with in the flying passengers who were missing connections. Added to the unhappy flying public, were cranky, rude, and demanding TSA agents unhappy they couldn't search everyone again.

Also, at MRY on Thursday we were told we had to put our shoes on the belt, and had to get our DVD player out of the bottom of our bag for screening. So there's a place that needs to be trained that shoes can be in bins and that smaller than laptops can stay in the bag.

Anonymous said...

Can you please clarify for us what the "size of a standard laptop" is? 15" seems like a reasonable standard to... 13.3" is _clearly_ less than standard!

Also, could you please clarify why an extra couple inches of screen comprises more of a security risk?

Lastly, can you please point me to the procedure on your website so that I can print it for the next agent that isn't aware of these regulations.

Thanks for all you to do protect our friendly skies!

WinterHawk said...

Could it be possible that the harrasment recently by TSA is calculated to put fear in the hearts of Americans? A frightened nation is easier to control.

I have noticed a recent increase in the rudeness of the agents and in the randomness of the rules. I think it is a calculated move to keep us off guard.

That is the way King George ruled England before the Magna Carta. And the way Hitler ruled Germany. We all know where that led.

Anonymous said...

A recent encounter of a loss of 3 Apple IPAD from check-in at JFK Airport. TSA had opened my bag and the bag was found open without a zipper as it was cut.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:14 AM

Another possibility: None of what you described ever happened; you wrote it simply for the [non]sense of it.

avxo said...

TSM West:

I appreciate your lengthy post, and your attitude towards your job. If more TSA supervisory-level staff were like you, perhaps the checkpoints would run a lot more smoothly than they seem to at times.

Can you answer one question for me? Why is it that every single time I go through a checkpoint -- doesn't matter what time it is, or if it's in LAS, MSP, LAX, JFK or DFW -- I see enough TSOs to staff an extra lane, just standing by the x-ray machine chatting it up, or sitting immediately behind the metal detectors looking off into the great unknown. Meanwhile we are queuing up outside and have to wait.

Can't some of them go toward the exit side of the X-ray scanner and monitor the bags of those who are delayed in the metal detector so a miscreant can't make off with a laptop -- or worse yet -- ID?

And why, pray tell, are TSOs requiring that people put wallets -- and even passports -- in the bin?!

Isn't it a better solution to allow passengers to keep those things and have them hand-screened if they alarm, in full view of the passenger?



talking amongst themselves, wh

Anonymous said...

Further to the loss of 3 Ipad, what happen was that we checked our bags through at JFK Int'l Airport by Cathay Pacific Airline (Terminal 7)on Sat, 17 April (8 am) with TSA locks. This is a flight to Hong Kong and throught o Bangkok. By the time I reached Bangkok, while waiting for the bags to arrive at the belt, the bag was delayed unusally and I found my bag by the side and open and inside the bags was a mess and of course my 3 IPAD including 2 chrgers for the IPhone was stolen from my locked baggage. There should be TSA officer to check these bagage prior to check in with airline if they are going to open without our consent to avoid this kind of theft from passengers. This is totally unfair and unethical experience for visitor to New York for the 1st time!!!! I am hoping TSA would review my claim urgently and provide compensation in full.

Anonymous said...

TSA screeners are still forcing the removal of netbooks from carry-on bags for re-run.
Fix it or issue a new policy that will be effective when announced, with screeners trained properly.

JOHN said...

i hope this gets standardized across airports. i was traveling out of LAX a couple weeks back and left my (regular sized) kindle in my backpack with just clothes on top, so it should have been a pretty unobstructed view.

F. Stein said...

Hi Blogger Bob,
I was quite embarrased during my last trip through RIC. After having shared your posting in my Defense Agency's Security Update with 17,000 DoD employees, I too was asked if I was traveling with a Kindle and told I would have to take it out next time. I spoke with the check-points supervisor explaining your release on the topic and my embarassment after having just told my Agency (Headquartered close to RIC, and using RIC as a primary airport)if these items are ALWAYS checked. The response was that "TSA POLICY is all electronics such as this must be removed."

Coming back through MSP nothing was said about having to remove it!

I certainly hope the word gets out soon so there is some ability to know what to expect.

RB said...

Bob, based on the last several comments about inconsistencies of how various airports are screening
E-Books/Net-books it seems your own employees are contradicting your well trained claim.

What say you Bob?

Scott Duncan said...

Just traveled a week agho with my netbook ATL to CVG and then back.

On the ATL-CVG leg I left it in its carrying bag and I was told I had to take my Asus netbook out as it was "as big as a DVD player." On the other hand, I forgot to take my liquids bag out and put it into a bin and that got through.

On the CVG-ATL leg, same thing regarding the netbook (and I asked first this time), i.e., I had to take it out.

Mike said...

I disagree with the phrase "our officers are trained." Your officers do not know the TSA's own rules. I specifically checked the list of prohibited items before attempting to bring my safety razor with me on my recent trip this week between BOS and ATL. Leaving BOS was fine, however returning through ATL the TSA "officer" took the disposable blade from my safety razor.

If you notice on TSA's own prohibited items website: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm safety razors are specifically excluded from the list of prohibited items.

You guys really badly need to train your officers on what is allowed and what is not allowed through security. And fix the stupidity of the list itself. Your next blog post should read "Snow globes: a threat to national security."

Bob Abooey said...

DTW requires you to still remove these items as of 26 April.

knight rider said...

i was traveling out of LAX a couple weeks back and left my (regular sized) kindle in my backpack with just clothes on top, so it should have been a pretty unobstructed view.

mtoma2az said...

I am flying again tomorrow for the first time in almost 6 months, and am NOT looking forward to the usual DREADED "shoe problem"! I found this blog when Googling to try to find the 'official' guidelines on where to put my shoes, since the last time was really humiliating.

The last time I flew, PHX -> PVD -> PHX, I was yelled at in Sky Harbor for doing it one way and at TF Green for doing it the OTHER way! I no longer remember which I did first, IN the bucket or NOT in the bucket, but whatever I did the first time, I got yelled at sharply, and then when I did what the FIRST airport said to do at the OTHER airport, I was yelled at AGAIN for doing THAT!

I KNOW whatever I do with my netbook will be wrong, so I am resigned to being sharply rebuked on THAT.

I am repeating that round trip, and since I haven't flown in a few months I'm a bit rusty.

I will write again when I've flown out and returned home, so I can update this blog on which shoe 'method' is required at which airport. Until it changes...

Clearly, it is NOT standardized.

Yifan said...

Just went through security in Nashville (BNA) and was admonished for leaving my netbook in my luggage. I was kind of expecting such a thing but informed the screener that netbooks and other small electronics did not have to be separated now. She looked at me kind of funny and said "Really?" and then the screener running the machine said "a laptop is a laptop." Everyone was very nice and it took me less than 5 minutes to get through but I wish TSA could get their employees trained nationwide on these kind of changes rather than letting the traveler play Russian Roulette.

April Braswell said...

Hi Bob,

Indeed, it is not standardized. However, I also understand that the different airports actually have different levels of security policies depending on their security alerts and markets they serve (I'm sure I'm not using the right term.). Invariably I carry a notebook sized laptop, which is entirely my choice, and I am prepared to remove it. What busts my chops, oh, there I am complaining, but it did happen and I almost freaked because it was my work and my business on that laptop, when a TSA handled it poorly and it fell. Most of the TSA folks are excellent and gracious.

Great to have you disseminating this information about what is the current policy. Then we frequent travelers can keep ourselves properly informed.

Thank you

Sincerely,

April Braswell

Bud said...

Anonymous Said...
Jake said: "Thanks for the update, but I'm curious when we'll be allowed to use e-readers during take-off and landing? Surely we're ready to move past this ridiculous idea that my wifi receiver is going to somehow crash the plane, right?"

================

Jake: You seem to be operating under a mistaken impression. The real reason that you're not allowed to use electronic devices during takeoff/landing has NOTHING to do with any idea that it might crash the plane. And nobody has ever told you that. The real reason is quite logical and simple: if there is going to be a problem with a flight, it's most likely to happen during takeoff or landing. For safety reasons, the flight crew needs everyone to be paying attention, and not have 93 electronic devices in their laps that can easily become missiles, so that if there is a sudden need to brace for impact, or evacuate, you can actually get everyone off the plane, instead of having geeks trying to put their tray table up and save their iPads first.

Clear enough?

WinterHawk said...

Sorry, Bud, but dispute your apparent disbelief that the reason we can't use portable electronic devices (PED) during take off and landing and sell phones during flight is because of suspected danger to the airplane, the FAA and the FCC tell us you are wrong. Look it up. The rules are on their websites. There are, in fact, two different rules, one from each agency indicating that there may be reason to believe that such devices emit electromagnetic impulses that could interfere with aircraft communication.

So before you diss someone for saying something that you don't believe, check your facts. Maybe, just maybe, you are mistaken.

Unless you know everything, listen to those who know something. (WinterHawk)

Anonymous said...

My experience is that most screeners are not aware of this policy change. Flying out of JFK, STL and TPA recently I had to show the supervisors a copy of this post. An agent at American in JFK went so far as to borrow my copy and make a duplicate to post for his co-workers.
One agent wanted to debate "who's to say how large or small a notebook is?"
The supervisor in TPA insisted that I was wrong and that if I traveled with multiple devices (all smaller than a notebook) each one had to be in its own carrier. According to him there was no new policy.
Discussing this with him his coworker volunteered that they make everyone with an iPad remove it from their baggage. (TPA is just a short distance to the local Apple store).
Just think of the unnecessary inconvenience and thousands of wasted man-hours spent enforcing a policy that no longer exists.

Adam said...

I'm looking to buy an ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) that doesn't need to be pulled from my bag in the airport.

From the article:
Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases. It’s that simple.

Several other posts have already expressed my concern: How do you decide what does and what does not qualify? How can we passengers best ensure efficiency in line?

UMPCs tend to be 10"-13", overlapping netbooks (which tend to be 9"-11") and both are smaller than the traditional 14" laptop. UMPCs and netbooks are both significantly slimmer and lighter in addition to being smaller by the other two dimensions.

It would be nice to know the logic behind the decision and the exact phrasing as presented to security officials at the scanning stations.

This could be facilitated by pictures; here's a dozen borderline devices that need separation, here's a dozen that do not.

Brandon said...

I too would like to see some consistency.

I just went through security at Chicago O'Hare, Terminal 1 about 2:45pm and had to take my iPad out of the bag. It all started with an exchange...between the screener and the secondary, "Are we supposed to screen iPads separately?"

*sigh*

Bob said...

Has anyone ever carried a desktop computer (full size tower) and monitor on an airplane? I'm going to a LAN party in November and I'm hoping to carry my desktop and monitor on the plane for fear of damage to the monitor. The parts will be removed from the inside and carried on separate and checked, but I'm afraid they won't let me carry on a desktop and monitor. Anyone ever have experience with this?

Blogger Bob said...

Bob said... Has anyone ever carried a desktop computer (full size tower) and monitor on an airplane? I'm going to a LAN party in November and I'm hoping to carry my desktop and monitor on the plane for fear of damage to the monitor. The parts will be removed from the inside and carried on separate and checked, but I'm afraid they won't let me carry on a desktop and monitor. Anyone ever have experience with this? May 18, 2010 12:19 PM

--------------------------

The tower and monitor are fine. Just make sure you run them separately through the x-ray.

You might want to check with your airline to see if there might be any issues, but I doubt there will be as long as your monitor isn't a 50" wide screen. :)

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

Allan said...

It is nice to get such information before we get to the checkpoints. Thanks!

Dan Kirsch said...

So much for iPads and kindles remaining in your bag, and forget about checkpoint friendly laptop bags -- at least in Atlanta on 5/22/10. When told that I had to remove both kindle and ipad and said that the TSA site says that is okay, was told by the screener that was incorrect. AND was told that there was no such thing as a checkpoint friendly laptop bag. That meant having a bin EACH for my laptop, kindle iPad, shoes and liquid/gels bag. I am a platinum flyer and not simply confused or inexperienced.

RAK said...

Netbook update - May 20 SFO Terminal 1 4:45 AM was told that ALL computers must be removed from bags. I pointed out the rules change and was told by the lady screener that I was incorrect or lying. Another agent apologized for her behavior. May 21 ORD E-F security point 3:20 PM- Agent advised that ORD does not support this rule and all computers must be out of bag. ... seems like only the public and TSA know about this, not the inspection points. RK

Anonymous said...

Please train the TSA agents at Atlanta Airport (ATL) that Netbooks can be left in carry ons for screening. I had a TSA agent give me a lecture on May 22 how I should know better than to leave my computer in my carry on. I referenced to the TSA Blog and he still pulled the Netbook and had it and my carry on rescreened.

Alex said...

Here's another training opportunity for the TSA. June 2nd 2010, 6:01 PM, Newark terminal A screening line 1. Not one screener of the 5 present seemed to be aware of this policy. Furthermore, when I told the screener that your web site explicitly says to leave iPads in carry-ons he told me he didn't care. It's not a setting where you can ask an employee's name without risking retaliatory actions, but clearly every employee on duty at that time was unaware of the rule.

I'm surprised it's this difficult for the TSA to disseminate this type of basic information. Makes you wonder what else is getting miscommunicated.

Dakota said...

one of the anon posters made a comment about how easy it is to remove netbooks and kindles from your bag and to quit whining...that's not true for every carry on bag. mine is a case logic backpack that looks a bit like a vertical dufflebag, tall and round with a zipper around the top, it has a specific padded compartment for a netbook, etc, but when the bag is packed, the top of this compartment is about 6 inches down from the top. if my bag is fully packed, that can be quite a few things i have to take out to get to the compartment. it's not always just that easy. think a little about bag variations before you throw uninformed insults and criticisms out.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

A couple of questions -

1. What about multiple laptops? I have a Thinkpad (work machine) and a Macbook Air (personal machine). Can both be taken?

2. As an ultraportale, should I take the Macbook Air outside the bag or leave it inside (similar to a netbook)?

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

First I would like to say that I am a TSO. Secondly the key to this issue is clutter. Most people travel with everything but the kitchen sink since airlines started charging for checked baggage. If you are wondering if you should remove it,then remove it. It should go like this: Shoes directly on the conveyor belt(nothing in,on or under your shoes)and laptop out of the bag and placed in a bin by itself. If a TSO tells you to remove your ipad, kindle etc. it might be due to the fact that you have a cluttered bag. And 99% of people travel with cluttered bags. Instead of telling you this long story at the busy checkpoint and talking you through this process, they might save you and themselves some time by telling you to take these items out and place them individually. Most of these bags end up being re-runs because of clutter.

Thirdly I would like to express my disappointment with this blog. It is being used by people that hate the TSA and all of it's Officers to just show hatred and scrutinize even further this agency that has been scrutinized more than any other agency of the U.S. GOV. I love what I do and it is a difficult job. The traveling public forms a very important part of the process. Everyday there are bins full of prohibited items being discarded because the traveling public does not research, or does not understand the 311 rule. But somehow the TSA officers are the ones called stupid in blogs like this. Use this blog to inform yourselves so you can make the process easier for us and yourselves. Before you criticize the TSA criticize yourselves, the traveling public that after 7 years of liquids being prohibited on board aircraft manage to fill 10 garbage bins full every day at my terminal. Somehow the thousands of TSO'S that have to explain the 311 rule to passengers on a daily basis manage to not blog about how uneducated the travelers are on these procedures or how difficult it was explaining fluid ounces to a drunk guy who wants to bring a 7-11 BIG GULP in his bag.
Get over it!! the TSA will be here for good, because we live in a different world and if we are an inconvenience to you then we are a necessary one. Let's cooperate with each other. Courtesy and compliance go hand in hand.

Harem bele said...

What is a standard size laptop? can you explian for me plz.

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! You guys are really making me worry. Are we men or mice? Do you really mean that taking a six ounce ipad out of your bag hurt you? Did it tire you in any way? Are you serious? You guys must be joking!!! Are we Americans becoming a bunch of whiny bloggers that cry about everything? You guys couldn't travel with me!!
It is obvious that ipads and kindles and netbooks have almost all the components to build a bomb! So if you add a sandwich or a Cliff bar on top of it, together with a charger or usb cable, you got yourself a pretty scary x-ray image. Would you rather the screener say,"It looks scary but the rule says the ipad can stay in the bag" or "Sir can you place the ipad in a separate container please." What you guys don't realize is that America is facing a new kind of enemy, a very resourceful and invisible enemy. This enemy hates whiny Americans. This enemy would love to travel through six airports with a bag that creates a scary x-ray image without anybody stopping him due a leave it in your bag rule. Come on!!!! Are you guys serious? Inconsistent or unpredictable? By the way I don't work for TSA but I have trained with this type of equipment. What do you guys know about an unobstructed view? There are people traveling with you that are there just to study these checkpoints in order to cause harm. Don't be naive!!!
And by the way! A superiority complex is a very serious sign of personal issues that need to be taken care of right away!
So stop acting like you are security experts when you are just traveling business men and give every body their respect. How could anybody work under so much scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

Wife was told to remove netbook at SMF yesterday despite having read this blog and assuming everyone was now up to speed. Interestingly, her Kindle was let through no problems. Her bag was not "cluttered".

Looking for an official policy today that she could hand to an uninformed TSO and I cannot find it anywhere other than this informal blog.

Could you point me to the official policy document and also a definition of "standard sized laptop"? This was a 10" netbook, I think well below anybodys definition of "standard".

Also, how can we address this obviously untrained TSA employee so that we can avoid this hassle in the future?

Scott Duncan said...

A couple weeks ago when I was going through Jacksonville, I had my wallet, change holder, watch and cell phone in an outer pocket of my clothing bag. They wanted to search the pocket due to an inability make out what was in the pocket. Usually, I have my phone in a separate pocket, but I had my glasses case and a couple other things in that outer pocket.

So I understand the clutter issue totally unrelated to any type/size of computer considerations.

I do note, though, that there seems to be an increase in time for the x-ray check and an in the frequncy of hand-checking. So more may be involved than just the "what is a netbook" definition.

Shawn Chittle said...

The national rules for TSA do not apply to NYC-area airports. JFK, EWR all require iPads to come out of your luggage. Period.

Anyone from the TSA says you can leave these in your luggage has never flown via a NYC-area airport. Period.

Please kindly stop misinforming the public.

Thank you!

jack said...

I too would like to see some consistency.

Anonymous said...

Scott Thomas seems to be a very smart man! His comment was posted on June 29, 2010 10:22 AM read it and learn. Thank you Scott Thomas stay smart!!!!!!!

Jackster said...

The problem is, there is no real set "rules" or policies - everything keeps changing, which I guess is the point, but still drives me nuts...

Adam said...

Response to anonymous TSO (June 9):

Blogs this public will be filled with many perspectives and will include many ... allegations. Most of us are merely trying to figure out the policy and how to best work with it. Sorry if you're reading this as a string of complaints -- it's not.

If clutter is the problem, teach us how to avoid it.

How can we pack our iPads, Kindles, and netbooks so as to make their nature obvious at the X-Ray? Discounting the hopeless cases, the 311 rule works decently and is easily trained and enforced. There is no similar rule for electronics, nor is there one for clutter.

There's even profit to be had -- look at the "checkpoint-friendly" laptop bags and how profitable they are despite their lack of advertisement. TSA could expand this into a specification for a bag that reduces clutter by its compartments and design and comes with a small 311-like leaflet suggesting how to pack it to reduce clutter. The leaflet should also explain that this is not a guarantee that a TSO won't request you to remove some of its contents.

Mike Snyder said...

Thanks for posting this information, it should save me a few minutes at the airport since I am (was) a sloppy packer.

Anonymous said...

As a flight crewmember, I understand that the TSA is there to protect all onboard the aircraft, and I appreciate their efforts. However, in spite of my efforts to keep up with the whims of TSA screeners, I am told approximately 50% of the time that I "should have removed the netbook from my bag" and "especially as a crewmember, you should know better." They are shocked to find out the truth, and I have yet to hear any sort of apology from TSA screeners when they have just wasted my time and have thrown in a heavy dose of sneering and sarcasm while pulling my netbook out of my bag. It really gets old, and the worst and most uninformed seem to be in Houston (IAH) and Austin (AUS).

The biggest problem with TSA from my limited perspective is the lack of training, standardization and people skills from 90% of the TSA screeners. We all have a job to do - do they have to act so belligerent?

Jeff said...

I was wondering is there anyone capable to point me to the official policy (written document) where I could read more about "standard sized laptop"? Basically, I was having a hard time on LAX airport with my iPad on top of the luggage bag. Thanks!

Dakota said...

so, i travel in 3 days and will have my netbook and kindle with their various chargers, etc in tow. they will be in my carry on bag, obviously, and as stated in a post previously, this carry on has it's own compartment for electronics to pad and protect them. along with them will be various and sundry items i have learned are essential to carry on with you after my last trip in to texas left us with bags that did not arrive until the next day and prior to that, didn't arrive for hours. and, since i can't afford an extra $50 some odd bucks to check a second bag both ways, my and my husband's carry on's will be packed full. i can see where this is headed. it won't be a huge problem this time, considering the airports i'm flying in and our of are pretty small, but if i was flying out of MSP or DFW where the waits can be endless, it could lead to a very frustrating process, for me and the people behind me. and it may sound whiny, but yeah, it IS a little hard to take all these things off or out and put them up on the belt. i have MS and fibromyalgia and sometimes, just standing in line is more than i can do, not to mention take off my shoes, empty out my carry on of everything i own, pull out any scary liquids, etc. and when i have to travel with prefilled syringes of medicine that have to stay cold...holy hannah. seriously, we're not all just being whiny or entitled. sometimes it really IS just hard! also, just putting my say in here, lecturing others about being whiny or entitled or having superiority complexes fairly REEKS of having your own complex. lecture not lest ye be labeled the same as those you are lecturing to!

rustam1007 said...

this is a very intresting blog i like it
.................
salman

Frustrated said...

I travel frequently myself and had read this blog soon after obtaining my iPad. Every screening checkpoint has made me remove the device from my carry on.

Maybe Blogger Bob doesn't work for the TSA, or maybe he is as misinformed as the screeners at the airport.

Blogger Bob, either post the correct information for us, or make sure the correct information reaches the checkpoints.

All of us have made the effort to look for the correct information from the TSA so we can make our, the screener's, and our fellow traveler's live a bit easier. Conflict information does the opposite...

Scott said...

I am an airline pilot so I deal with TSA daily. Unfortunately, in the last 6 weeks or so I am seeing unbelievable variation in TSA procedures and this is one of the main areas. I travel from IND and they remove my netbook every time. The same bag packed the same way is left untouched at every other airport. Yesterday in SYR, two identical netbooks in adjacent bags; one removed, the other untouched, both belonged to crewmembers. In none of these cases does the screener say that their view is obstructed or cluttered; they remove the item because they can. Apparently the local managers are forgetting that one of the reasons the TSA was created was to ensure a uniform level of safety in screening across the country.

Anonymous said...

will ANYONE say what is the "STANDARD" size notebook?...geez!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

If you have at least 1 hour to spare before your flight after going through security, then you should have enough time to talk to a supervisor. If I am not mistaken, it is supposed to be TSA's policy to immediately get a supervisor (without retaliation unless the passenger is being hostile) when requested.
---
I have needed a supervisor numerous times, and most airports do not have a supervisor at every check-point. In fact, I've waited as much as 15 minutes for a supervisor to arrive. However, if you plan for enough time, and can work with a supervisor, I have found that they tend to know all of the regulations, or can quickly look them up. Even rare or obscure rulings, such as FAA allowances for carry-on of sport skydiving parachutes (to ensure proper care of this sensitive equipment).
Most people seem to have a problem with the screening process when running late for a flight. We can't always pack lightly, or check everything in, but it's less of an issue when you aren't trying to rush through the airport like a maniac. On the other hand, I have found more polite representatives at the local DMV (which doesn't say much), so everybody could practice a little more patience. :)

Anonymous said...

I am sitting in the Columbus OH airport after having just gone through the TSA screening. I was treated rudely by the screener who said (loudly, as I was being patted down since I have metal knees....another story) to me from across the room: "Don't you know you have to remove your laptops?" and who then proceeded to "remind" the other passengers behind me: (LOUDLY, as one speaks to schoolchildren misbehaving on a playground): "Remove all laptops from your bag." I said I had checked with the TSA web site prior to packing and TSA itself said little netbooks do not have to be unpacked to go through the scanner, but he just rolled his eyes at me and repeated (as though I was mentally deficient or unable to understand English): "no, our policy is all laptops have to be unpacked".

So this is not a complaint about rudeness (I am used to that, I get patted down always because I have metal knees so I get to observe a LOT of stuff as I wait) but IS a complaint about how come TSA can't make sure all checkpoints get the message? Good God, if passengers are smart enough to check the web site, why isn't it standard for TSA supervisors?

Ash said...

It is a worry that this blog post started in April and now the comment above in October shows that some staff are refusing to obey TSA instructions. I can understand that initially some staff may have missed the memo because they were on leave, but six months on the job should have given them enough OTJ experience to see that their colleagues are not requiring netbooks to be removed.

Solution: get new signs made that spell this out, so that less time is wasted and more time is available to eyeball the pax.

I will be removing my netbook next time as I have always done.

Cary Lee said...

Last weekend, I was travelling out of the Chicago Midway Airport and did not remove my 10" netbook from my bag, as per this blog post. TSA agents then removed my netbook and reran my bag. I stated that official TSA policy does not require removing netbooks under the size of a standard laptop and referenced this post as well as the date it was written. The TSA agent replied, "Well, they didn't tell us that." It's upsetting to see that it must take more than seven months after a policy change for TSA employees to actually get the message.

AndySocial said...

On November 14th, the LAX TSOs insisted that my 10" netbook be removed from its case, and that nothing else be in the case even then. This was just ten feet past the "netbooks are okay" sign. So much for good training.

Scott Duncan said...

AndySocial said: This was just ten feet past the "netbooks are okay" sign. So much for good training.

Training? How about just the ability to read then ask higher level TSA personnel what the sign means compared to what they think the policy is?

Anonymous said...

"Standard size laptop" is a completely useless rule/guideline. What's "standard?"

A sign in the CAK airport yesterday said electronic devices smaller than 12"X14" is allowed to stay in a bag. is this the definition of "standard?" And if so, why aren't those dimensions published?

Anonymous said...

When you buy your ticket you give implied consent that you will cooperate with security provided by the tsa. Refuse and don't fly, as simple as that. There are enough passengers willing to endure the long line to at least make us feel safer.
Take a road trip if you don't like it!

Christyb399 said...

TSA agents don't seem to change their gloves after each search. This seems to be a very good way to pass germs onto passengers. Also, agents "think" they are protecting themselves from germs...yet I saw, on video, 3 agents do their searches, then touch themselves on the face (one her mouth) with the dirty glove. Also, what about people allergic to latex??

Anonymous said...

So I just read all of these comments and there is STILL no response from Bob about what entails a laptop and a distinguishes it from a netbook? Geez... its a simple question, can we can a simple answer?

Anonymous said...

its actually pretty simple. ignore everything you read Blogger Bob post and assume the position.

the rules are whatever the screener says they are

Anonymous said...

There still seems to be no consistency in how iPad size devices are handled as of Feb 2011 between airports. I've been removing mine from the bag which defeats the convenience of my tsa-laptop bag (still having to use 2 or 3 bins for e-reader items, etc) - but this does seem to avoid having the bags rescanned 50% of the time. This is unfortunate as tsa screeners occasionally decide to shove bins around which has on several occasions resulted in scuffs and scrapes on brand new equipment.

Anonymous said...

I was required to remove my netbook from my carry-on on 2/6/11 at Dulles.

There is no point in having a policy if employees do not know the policy!

Anonymous said...

Having long since realized that there was no consistency and having my bag re-run sans netbook 8 times out of 10, I removed my netbook (10 in.) from my bag and put it in a bin today at BOS. I had the audacity to place my jacket on top of it, however, and this also apparently necessitated a re-run because "all laptops must be removed."

The supervisor took 10 minutes to figure out how to navigate her computer to tsa.gov (!), whereupon she printed out information that said all electronics must be removed. Somebody should tell O'Hare, where an identical bin configuration was no problem this morning.

Nice one TSA!

Anonymous said...

TSA - FAIL !!!

Every time my netbook gets chem swiped and my bag searched thoroughly. My kindle doesn't cause problems but my little Dell Inspiron Mini netbook never fails to get me yanked out of the line.

And since I'm a Platinum with American, Gold with Delta, AND Gold with Continental that means I get harassed a LOT over a netbook that supposedly is just fine.

As others have noted, when I question this, and I ALWAYS do, I get the same wrong answers that all netbooks and computers must come out. Tonite at DCA I was told only iPads could stay in the bag.

TSA - FAIL

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