Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lady Gaga’s Handcuffs & The TSA Permitted/Prohibited Items List

You may have heard about Lady Gaga recently being permitted to take handcuffs through a checkpoint at LAX. Some assumed handcuffs were prohibited, and were very surprised to find out they’re not. Why not, you might ask? They’re not a threat. You can’t do any real damage with a pair of handcuffs and if you really wanted to tie someone’s hands behind their back, there are many other ways you could do it. I’m sure you’re thinking of a few right now. Speaking of tying things together, I’d like to tie the prohibited items list into this post. It’s one of the most popular TSA related searches out there, so I thought I’d let you in on our cool new mobile/web tool.

MyTSA App BannerOur new MyTSA App (Available as an iPhone App or Mobile Web App) amongst other great features has a “Can I Bring My…” tool. You can type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it will tell you if the item is permitted or not. If it’s not included in the list, you have the option of submitting it to us for addition. We even added “tatting shuttle.” Yep, we had to Google it too and they are permitted)

Just so you know, you don’t have to have a mobile device, “Can I Bring My…” is also on the web.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using “Can I Bring My…”
  • Don’t type the brand name of the deodorant – but do type if it’s roll-on or stick.
  • Don’t type “food” – type what type of food – brownie, Jell-o, apple, pudding.  Food is too generic.
  • Type “disposable razor,” not “2 disposable razors”
And sorry, the tool doesn’t give answers for mother-in-law, screaming child, wife, or ex-husband.



Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

96 comments:

Ayn R. Key said...

I think you could hurt someone a lot worse if you whacked them with the handcuffs than if you whacked them with a 4 oz bottle of water.

Michelle said...

I noticed a lot of questions on Quora about what you can and can't bring. You guys should check it out and consider answering a few of them.

Anonymous said...

I am a law obiding citizen with no intention of ever harming a soul, much less an airliner. Do not construe any comments as threats,

However, your logic that "handcuffs can't harm" is ridiculous. Ask anyone in law enforcement why they double lock their S&W handcuffs: because you can use the locking arm as a knife. If handcuffs can't harm, then neither can knives, or dare i say, box cutters. The entire security process is nothing more than kabuki theater and we all know it. America has had one successful hijacking in the past 20 years, and with locked cockpit doors (not to mention the dismissal of "appease and land" policies) means we are spending far too much to mitigate the smallest of risks.

Anonymous said...

You can’t do any real damage with a pair of handcuffs and if you really wanted to tie someone’s hands behind their back, there are many other ways you could do it.

You can't do any real damage with many things that are prohibited.

Water, for example.

Anonymous said...

Toothpaste is not a threat either. Nor is water. Yet, we aren't allowed to take it with us.

George said...

How is this "cool new mobile/web tool" actually useful, given the inconsistency that has become synonymous with the TSA? A passenger can be meticulously conscientious about researching and complying with the available rules, but still end up "voluntarily abandoning" an item because of a particular TSO's "interpretation" of the rules. That's one reason people come to hate the TSA.

So does the "Can I Bring My...." tool include whatever "interpretation" of the rules that happens to be in effect at this airport, at this checkpoint, by this TSO, at this time? If it doesn't, it's not merely useless to the passenger, but likely to compound the frustration for everyone.

Anonymous said...

You can't do any damage with a 20oz bottle of water either, yet it's not allowed on the flight if brought in from the land side of the airport.

Anonymous said...

I am sure the flight attendants are just going to absolutely adore this.

Anonymous said...

Is Clear Care brand contact lens cleaner permitted or not?

Anonymous said...

No matter what the website says about an item being permitted, the TSA has always maintained that a TSA screener can always refuse to allow any item past the checkpoint if he/she feels it might be dangerous.

So what's the point of checking to see if an item is permitted? A screener can disallow it, and the passenger HAS NO RECOURSE! Do you think they care what the website says?

(In most cases, the supervisor at the checkpoint will simply back up the screener, rarely overturning their decision!)

Anonymous said...

Handcuffs are not a threat, and they are not prohibited. Water and toothpaste are not threats either; when will they be removed from the prohibited items list?

It's been over 4 years; it's far beyond time for this insanity to end.

Anonymous said...

And will the list be obeyed by the TSO at the gate? Or will he/she invent a reason for my scissors with blunt tips and less than 3 inch blades needs to be confiscated?

Anonymous said...

Like when you enter "Ice" (the frozen kind) and get back "Service Dog"! - Try it yourself
Need a better search engine!

Anonymous said...

I fail to see the use in this app when each TSA checkpoint is allowed to increase the items denied at will. For instance, I had flown for months with freezer packs to keep food cold, but on fateful evening at MDW, the TSA agent (and his supervisor) forced me to either throw them out or check my bags -- in spite of them being specifically on ths list of "allowed substances".

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should make your app smarter as opposed to telling people what not to type?

Do they type "food"? Then list all food items in the database.

Do they type "2 razor blades"? Then list "razor blade"

If the TSA was in charge of software development, we would all still be using DOS.

Anonymous said...

anon said:
"A screener can disallow it, and the passenger HAS NO RECOURSE"
im sure that the screener gave you some options, like checking a bag with the item in it. so you do have recourse.

another anon asked:
Is Clear Care brand contact lens cleaner permitted or not?
in your checked luggage im sure its allowed. how large of a container are you asking about?

yet another anaon:
No matter what the website says about an item being permitted, the TSA has always maintained that a TSA screener can always refuse to allow any item past the checkpoint if he/she feels it might be dangerous.

perhaps but ask for your options, it doenst mean that you have to lose it.

HappyToHelp said...

@ Ayn R. Key
Agreed. After you through the bottle, they may die of laughter when you pull out your tiny key chain Swiss pocket knife.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ Michelle
Thanks for the hot lead.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ Anonymous September 22, 2010 5:32 PM
You can take toothpaste, and water past the checkpoint. LGA’s are restricted. Please read about 311 on our website (www.tsa.gov). The total ban was lifted a long time ago (depending on your definition of “a long time ago”).

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ George
So to help travelers get the information they might need quickly and easily, we launched the MyTSA mobile web app and iPhone app to put the information you need right at your fingertips.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@Anonymous September 22, 2010 7:51 PM
Not true. You can bring a frozen 20oz water bottle through the checkpoint. Passengers bring frozen LGA’s daily at my airport (not the aerosols.. which is a wise decision).

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Barnes said...

So, do you have to put the handcuffs in the checked baggage or can you put it in your carry on?

Jim Huggins said...

HappyToHelp: please give one TSA web page which affirms that I, as an able-bodied passenger, can bring a frozen 20oz water bottle through a checkpoint.

(The only web page I've seen on the issue only discusses ice in the context of medical needs.)

Anonymous said...

"You can take toothpaste, and water past the checkpoint. LGA’s are restricted."

Why are they restricted when they present to threat to anyone?

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Liquid water is no threat to aviation. Why can't I bring liquid water? Did you ever consider that it might be a little difficult to have frozen water at hand on a connecting US flight after an overnight flight from abroad? Did you also know that we can fly with liquids in foreign countries, and planes don't fall from the sky?

Anonymous said...

"Did you also know that we can fly with liquids in foreign countries, and planes don't fall from the sky?"

Nor do we have to take our shoes off. Why, I took an international flight to the US earlier this year and did not have to take my shoes off. In fact, the professional, well-trained security screener rolled his eyes when I asked. TSA is a laughingstock everywhere, it seems.

George said...

@Tim: So to help travelers get the information they might need quickly and easily, we launched the MyTSA mobile web app and iPhone app to put the information you need right at your fingertips.

Tim, thank you for taking the time to address my comment with an utterly useless non-answer that looks like it's copied from an official press release.

Does the app somehow read the mind of the TSO who is screening a traveler, to provide information about the rules in effect at this checkpoint, for this TSO, at this moment? If it can't do that, the app fails to do what you say it does. While it's surely useful to know the official published guidelines, it does no good if the TSO who is screening you at that moment decides that an officially permitted item is (for some unknowable reason) prohibited.

Does the app perhaps give passengers more leverage with TSOs who (for some unknowable reason) decide that an officially permitted item is prohibited? Or will an attempt to use the app in that situation be punished with a dump search, an "enhanced pat down," or other retaliation that's officially not supposed to happen? The app surely was well-intentioned, but as usual whoever was keen on deploying it failed to consider the full impact.

The TSA seems to have a fetish for technology nearly equal to its fetish for secrecy, regardless of whether the technology is useful or effective. I suspect that both fetishes are inept attempts to cover up their systemic inability to do anything consistently or competently.

HappyToHelp said...

@ Barnes
Both carry-on and checked baggage is okay.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ Anonymous September 24, 2010 4:25 AM
You are absolutely right. Water is not a threat to aviation. However, we have blogged many times why LGA’s are restricted. This is getting off topic so feel free to look up our blog posts in the search bar. If you want to comment further, you can comment in those blog posts or the off comment blog post.

Thanks,

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ Jim Huggins
All 311 exemptions’ are listed on the 311 for carry-on page. We have discussed this before. You can either except that ice is allowed for ALL passengers, or…. don’t. However, passengers of all walks of life are taking advantage of this.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

HappyToHelp said...

@ Anonymous September 24, 2010 10:43 AM
A well trained security screener does not roll his eyes at a passenger, when a passenger is only asking a security related question. That would have made me mad, not come to the conclusion that TSA is the laughing stock of the security world. However, people take input differently, and this is one of those cases.

Tim
TSA Blog Team

Jim Huggins said...

HappyToHelp:

Excuse me? TSA's 311 Webpage says absolutely nothing about ice. Neither does TSA's 311 Brochure.

The only mention I can find of this is on an obscure webpage which only grants the right to frozen materials if the passenger has a medical need. There is nothing there indicating that the right is extended to all passengers.

Care to read the web pages for yourself and prove me wrong? Or are TSA's webpages wrong on this issue?

Anonymous said...

I have had ice (the SOLID state of matter for water for those TSA agents w/o a H.S. diploma) confiscated by TSA. I would suffer food poisoning as my packed sandwhiches (about $3 for a 20+ hour trip (airport food would have cost me nearly $30)) rotted. I have had a sealed can of macaroni and cheese confiscated by TSA becasue apparently "MAC+CHEESE is a liquid." I went hungry as weather delays turned a 4 hour flight into nearly 12 hours at the airports.
Bottom Line : TSA agents are subjective and rule sets can not be relied upon.
p.s. a few years ago I saw a kid's toy (plastic) handcuffs tossed by TSA.

Anonymous said...

"However, we have blogged many times why LGA’s are restricted."

No, you haven't. You've never been able to justify your liquid hysteria nor point to a single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research that supports your fantastical claim that 3.5 ounces of shampoo can destroy a jetliner.

Anonymous said...

This is getting off topic so feel free to look up our blog posts in the search bar. If you want to comment further, you can comment in those blog posts or the off comment blog post.

Thanks,

Tim
TSA Blog Team


How is it off topic? The title of the post says ".... &The TSA Permitted/Prohibited List"

So discussing permitted /prohibited items is off topic in a thread titled "...&The TSA Permitted/Prohibited List"

Anonymous said...

"You can either except that ice is allowed for ALL passengers, or…. don’t."

Or you could post a link to the page you claim exists.

George said...

@Tim: A well trained security screener does not roll his eyes at a passenger, when a passenger is only asking a security related question. That would have made me mad, not come to the conclusion that TSA is the laughing stock of the security world. However, people take input differently, and this is one of those cases.

I suspect that the (anonymous) person to whom you're referring was being sarcastic in calling the eye-rolling TSO a "professional, well-trained security screener." The TSO apparently was neither professional nor well-trained.

For that matter, why is being mad mutually exclusive with concluding that "TSA is the laughing stock of the security world"? I think they go together. We should indeed be outraged that an agency that's consuming so much of our tax dollars and our privacy can't train their people to implement absurd and arbitrary rules with any consistency. We should be outraged that they can't their screeners to treat passengers courteously even when they don't understand the absurd and arbitrary rules-- which we're not supposed to understand anyway because the rationale is a "national security" secret.

Whether or not the TSA is a "laughing stock" is not the issue. The fact is that many people perceive it that way, mainly because of what they've personally experienced. If the public perceives the TSA negatively, it's because the TSA has encouraged that perception through the behavior of the people who represent it.

TSA management doesn't seem to have figured out how to correct that problem effectively, assuming they actually care. For example, the app that is the subject of this post is surely well-intentioned, but it does nothing to solve the problem the TSA created with its inability to apply the rules with any consistency. If anything, it will create more problems whenever a TSO confiscates an item the app clearly says is permitted.

I respectfully suggest that the TSA spend its money on getting its sorry act together rather than on fancy technology that doesn't solve any of the agency's many problems.

Anonymous said...

I hate doing Tim's job for him, when h it comes to ice here is the link:
http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

Scroll down, it's about 2/3 f the way down.

As to the new app, it's useless. Since of TSO's can deny any item to pass the checkpoint without cause, even if you can show then the TSA list. Oh and good luck trying to get your checked luggage back to store it there.

Anonymous said...

Are you planning on blogging about the woman who was going through a checkpoint, and had her wallet and receipts scrutinized by TSOs?

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2010/09/25/bolduan.tsa.searches.cnn?hpt=C2

Didn't your officers get "training" after the incident with the Ron Paul aide? Or after the decision in U.S. v. Fofana?

Anonymous said...

anon said:
" No, you haven't. You've never been able to justify your liquid hysteria nor point to a single piece of independent, peer-reviewed research that supports your fantastical claim that 3.5 ounces of shampoo can destroy a jetliner."


so does it have to be one that you approve of? the bbc did a study and video on the effects of liquid explosives on a jetliner on the ground. it was quite destructive on the ground, i can just imagine what it would do at 30000ft. the point is that the tsa cannot take the time to determine if what you have is shampoo or not or the wait times will go on for hours, because one way or another your oversized will have to be checked...

RB said...

Anonymous said...
I hate doing Tim's job for him, when h it comes to ice here is the link:
http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

Scroll down, it's about 2/3 f the way down.

As to the new app, it's useless. Since of TSO's can deny any item to pass the checkpoint without cause, even if you can show then the TSA list. Oh and good luck trying to get your checked luggage back to store it there.

September 25, 2010 1:47 PM
..........

As has been pointed out repeatedly that section you refered us to is addressing only some travelers.

Prior to the bullets the sections starts out with these words:

"To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounce (100ml) of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):"

...........
then the bullets follow one of which mentions ice.

So for the regular traveler without any additonal issues ice is simply not addressed.

TSA could make a minor change to the information provided to travelers yet they have not done so, the only conclusion is so that they can not allow ice at any moment for any person.

avxo said...

"We even added “tatting shuttle.” Yep, we had to Google it too and they are permitted"

Let me get this straight. You -- the TSA, the people responsible for determining what is and and not permitted on board -- had to Google whether tatting shuttles are permitted on board?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
So for the regular traveler without any additonal issues ice is simply not addressed.
********
I though the bullet point was pretty clear about ice

"Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements."

Anonymous said...

"so does it have to be one that you approve of?"

No, but it must be conducted by independent researchers and peer-reviewed. The "study" you cite was neither.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
so does it have to be one that you approve of? the bbc did a study and video on the effects of liquid explosives on a jetliner on the ground. it was quite destructive on the ground, i can just imagine what it would do at 30000ft.

And making the terrorists bring the explosives in two 3-ounce bottles instead of one 6-ounce bottle somehow magically... what? prevents it from exploding?

the point is that the tsa cannot take the time to determine if what you have is shampoo or not or the wait times will go on for hours

The TSA doesn't bother to test the 3-ounce bottles people carry through now. Do you really think the terrorists are too stupid to think of pouring their liquid explosive into several 3-ounce bottles, then combing them once they breeze through security??

Oh, and the risk from 'liquid explosives' has been shown to be that much malarkey. The process for combining the two halves of a binary liquid explosive requires a lot of time, an ice-water bath (if the mix heats up, it'll kill the person mixing it, but not cause significant damage), creates horrible fumes, etc. This is not something that can be done on a plane. So Binary liquids are OUT. Other liquid explosives, as I just pointed out, can trivially be brought in in small amounts until enough is gathered.

Once again, There is NO reason for 3-1-1 to exist; it cannot, WILL NOT, keep terrorists from getting explosives on board a plane. It DOES, however inconvenience millions of travelers a year, all for no increase in security.

Jim Huggins said...

Anonymous writes: "I thought the bullet point was pretty clear about ice."

But the bullet point occurs in a list of exceptions to the 311 rule for passengers with medical needs ONLY. There's absolutely no documented evidence that the rules allow an ordinary passenger to bring un-melted ice through a checkpoint.

Anonymous said...

avxo said...
"We even added “tatting shuttle.” Yep, we had to Google it too and they are permitted"

Let me get this straight. You -- the TSA, the people responsible for determining what is and and not permitted on board -- had to Google whether tatting shuttles are permitted on board?

September 26, 2010 1:32 PM
********
Unless you are hobbyist who makes lace, everyone would have to search the web to find out what a tatting shuttle is. It is rather a rather obscure tool

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
So for the regular traveler without any additonal issues ice is simply not addressed.
********
I though the bullet point was pretty clear about ice

"Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements."

September 26, 2010 5:10 PM

.............
The bullet you reference is perfectly clear.

Also perfectly clear is that section of information is directed only to people with special needs, not the general public.

If TSA wanted to take a few minutes and clarify the issue they could and this would no longer be a matter of discussion.

Why do you suppose TSA will not take the steps needed to clear up this matter?

ottnott said...

Agreed with Anonymous September 22, 2010 4:54 PM:
"The entire security process is nothing more than kabuki theater and we all know it. ...we are spending far too much to mitigate the smallest of risks."

The above captures why the TSA screening process is so frustrating. It is a huge expense and hassle providing very little benefit. The time spent in a typical screening line is sufficient to come up with multiple ways in which a terrorist or even a mentally unbalanced person could pass through screening with dangerous weapons or materials. Imagine what one could do with determination and months of time in which to gather info, test methods, and plan a criminal act?

No amount of public relations and tweaking at the edges of the prohibited list overcomes the impression that TSA is incompetent and uncaring. The fix is to establish systems and procedures that produce safety benefits far in excess of the cost and hassle imposed on the public. Why not learn from other countries that have been dealing with serious threats for much longer than we have?

ottnott said...

Agree with Anonymous September 26, 2010 8:06 PM:
"Once again, There is NO reason for 3-1-1 to exist; it cannot, WILL NOT, keep terrorists from getting explosives on board a plane."

Indeed. Because the screening is at the terminal entrance, there is no limit on the number of conforming containers of liquid that could be combined between the screening station and the gate.

And that doesn't include all the opportunities to bring in materials via the terminal service and vendor deliveries and staff.

Here's what the TSA tells us about 3-1-1:
"Please keep in mind that these rules were developed after extensive research and understanding of current threats."

We are to believe that the "research and understanding of current threats" is the reason for requiring a zip-top bag?

We are to believe that the "research and understanding of current threats" is the reason that you can bring 5 3-oz tubes of toothpaste through screening, but you can't bring an almost empty 6 oz tube of toothpaste?

We are to believe that the "research and understanding of current threats" is the reason that you can bring as many 100-ml containers as will fit in a quart bag, but you can't bring 1 or 2 100-ml containers in a gallon bag?

To pretend that these arbitrary rules are somehow threat based is insulting.

Somebody thought it would be good to have uniform and objective standards. That's great practice for assembly lines at GM or McDonalds, where the standards are key to producing a great product at the least cost.

For threat screening, however, it has the opposite effect. The tiny handful of bad guys know exactly what to do to pass through TSA screening, and the security benefit of making all of us good guys conform to 3-1-1 is zero.

Mike e. said...

Regarding the frozen water thing, the TSA site says the following...

"To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounce (100ml) of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):

...
....
Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;"


Note the "for passengers with a disability or medical condition" part.

What would a TSA agent tell me if I, as a healthy adult male, tried to bring in a frozen 16.9 FL OZ bottle of water through security?

TSM West said...

ANON Said
The TSA doesn't bother to test the 3-ounce bottles people carry through now. Do you really think the terrorists are too stupid to think of pouring their liquid explosive into several 3-ounce bottles, then combing them once they breeze through security??

Oh, and the risk from 'liquid explosives' has been shown to be that much malarkey. The process for combining the two halves of a binary liquid explosive requires a lot of time, an ice-water bath (if the mix heats up, it'll kill the person mixing it, but not cause significant damage), creates horrible fumes, etc. This is not something that can be done on a plane. So Binary liquids are OUT. Other liquid explosives, as I just pointed out, can trivially be brought in in small amounts until enough is gathered.

Once again, There is NO reason for 3-1-1 to exist; it cannot, WILL NOT, keep terrorists from getting explosives on board a plane. It DOES, however inconvenience millions of travelers a year, all for no increase in security.

September 26, 2010 8:06 PM
-----------------------------------
Another explosives expert heard from

Kat said...

When the "Can I bring" was rolled out, it didn't include

chicken salad
guacamole
quiches

and a whole raft of other items. I submitted them.

"Can I bring" still can't find them.

chicken salad = chopped chicken + mayonnaise -- I'll lay odds the TSA figures mayonnaise is a liquid or a gel. It's isn't, it's an emulsion, but they're unlikely to let that stop matters.

Guacamole = mashed avocado + lemon juice + seasonings. It's neither a liquid nor a gel, but I'll lay odds the TSA thinks it is.

Quiches = eggs + cheese + spices + meat and veggies. It should come under the heading "pie," like pumpkin pie, but with the TSA, who knows?

Sandwiches are allowed, but what about sandwich-type roll-ups?

TSO Tom said...

Great, now as for the mobile app, when will you release in the droid platform? Everything is not Iphone you know.

Anonymous said...

Kat said...
chicken salad = chopped chicken + mayonnaise -- I'll lay odds the TSA figures mayonnaise is a liquid or a gel. It's isn't, it's an emulsion, but they're unlikely to let that stop matters.


In the world of science there are only 3 states of matter. Solid, Liquid, or Gas. Guess what mayonnaise falls into? Guac would count as a liquid cause it will have liquid added to give it a liquid consistincy. In other words, you don't know what is in that guacamole to give it that consistincy thus making it restricted by 3-1-1 rules.

LTSO with Answers said...

Mike e. said...

What would a TSA agent tell me if I, as a healthy adult male, tried to bring in a frozen 16.9 FL OZ bottle of water through security?


If the water is completely frozen it is not prohibited.

Ayn R. Key said...

TSM West wrote...
Another explosives expert heard from

And still absolutely none from the TSA so far.

Jim Huggins said...

LTSO With Answers writes, regarding frozen water bottles:

If the water is completely frozen it is not prohibited.

Please produce one piece of documentation proving your assertion.

George said...

@LTSO with Answers: If the water is completely frozen it is not prohibited.

Yet another arbitrary TSA rule that makes no sense. A bottle of unfrozen water is prohibited because it could theoretically contain a liquid explosive, if one chooses to believe the TSA's claims to that effect based on classified research. But a bottle of frozen water is permitted, even though it could more than theoretically be used to inflict serious damage or injury if thrown or used as a club.

The TSA would probably respond to any such observations by insisting that passengers should refrain from any thinking while within 100 meters of a TSA checkpoint. Our minds should be blank and ready to instantly obey the TSO's orders as soon as they are bellowed into our ears. We should leave all the thinking to the very smart, very patriotic officials at Headquarters who are uniquely qualified to transform robust intelligence into the policies and procedures the highly trained, highly professional TSOs implement at checkpoints. As long as it all makes sense to them, it shouldn't matter if it makes no sense to us. And in fact, we should be reassured when something makes no sense because it surely will confuse terrorists even more!

That's what makes the TSA highly effective at doing whatever they're supposed to be doing.

TSM West said...

Ann R Key Answered
TSM West wrote...
Another explosives expert heard from

And still absolutely none from the TSA so far.

September 29, 2010 11:54 AM
-----------------------------------
Only your opinion. At my small Cat I airport we have two explosives experts with over 60 years of combined experience. I trust their opinion far more than I would yours or any expert who is paid to give their advise on the subject. Our experts get paid a small civil servants pay. It doesn't benefit them one way or the other to lie. If one of them tell me that liquid is a threat then I believe them. Especially since they both have all of their fingers after all the time they've been in the business.

Anonymous said...

"I trust their opinion far more than I would yours or any expert who is paid to give their advise on the subject."

If they truly know what they're talking about, independent peer-reviewed research should back them up. Funny how you and your agency can't point to any such research, isn't it?

Kat said...

Anonymous said, on September 29, 2010 11:46 AM, in reply to Kat's comment about food, In the world of science there are only 3 states of matter. Solid, Liquid, or Gas. Guess what mayonnaise falls into? Guac would count as a liquid cause it will have liquid added to give it a liquid consistincy. In other words, you don't know what is in that guacamole to give it that consistincy thus making it restricted by 3-1-1 rules.

Actually, there are four -- and possibly five states of matter. http://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/states_of_matter.htm is a link to a middle school level explanation -- it's even suited for elementary students.

In point of fact, neither chicken salad nor guacamole should be restricted by 311 since it specifically says "if there's a medical need."

Most people have a medical need to eat. But the TSA dismisses medical needs while giving lip service to them. I was told by a TSO that even a doctor's letter was inadequate because "anyone could forge one of those."

RB said...

TSM West said...
Ann R Key Answered
TSM West wrote...
Another explosives expert heard from

And still absolutely none from the TSA so far.

September 29, 2010 11:54 AM
-----------------------------------
Only your opinion. At my small Cat I airport we have two explosives experts with over 60 years of combined experience. I trust their opinion far more than I would yours or any expert who is paid to give their advise on the subject. Our experts get paid a small civil servants pay. It doesn't benefit them one way or the other to lie. If one of them tell me that liquid is a threat then I believe them. Especially since they both have all of their fingers after all the time they've been in the business.

September 29, 2010 9:07 PM
.............
President Nixon had many years of experience!

Ayn R. Key said...

TSM west wrote...
Our experts get paid a small civil servants pay. It doesn't benefit them one way or the other to lie.

The principle of "your job is to find the result we want and if you do you get to stay employed" is a benefit one way to lie. Have they published their results in peer reviewed journals? They could get a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work.

TSM West wrote...
If one of them tell me that liquid is a threat then I believe them.

Have they actually told you that one of the two impossible potions exists:

1. It is mixed before entering the airport, safe to transport (no nitro-glycerine), invisible to chemical detection (no nitro-glycerine), and cannot be poured from individual 3 oz bottles into one large bottle
2. It can be assembled from separate components without the aid of a fully equiped chemical lab, it is mixed after passing through the TSA checkpoint, and all the components are invisible to chemical detection

I'm betting they haven't told you that, so therefore you telling me how much you trust them is a red herring.

LTSO with Answers said...

LTSO With Answers writes, regarding frozen water bottles:

If the water is completely frozen it is not prohibited.


Jim Huggins said...

Please produce one piece of documentation proving your assertion.


I see how the public website may be a bit confusing. I do not know why it is organized the way it is. That is the Office of Public Affairs. Maybe Blogger Bob will ask to clarify this issue for the public. No proof I can show you. The information on the website is all I could refer you to.

LTSO with Answers said...

George said...

Yet another arbitrary TSA rule that makes no sense. A bottle of unfrozen water is prohibited because it could theoretically contain a liquid explosive, if one chooses to believe the TSA's claims to that effect based on classified research. But a bottle of frozen water is permitted, even though it could more than theoretically be used to inflict serious damage or injury if thrown or used as a club.

The TSA would probably respond to any such observations by insisting that passengers should refrain from any thinking while within 100 meters of a TSA checkpoint. Our minds should be blank and ready to instantly obey the TSO's orders as soon as they are bellowed into our ears. We should leave all the thinking to the very smart, very patriotic officials at Headquarters who are uniquely qualified to transform robust intelligence into the policies and procedures the highly trained, highly professional TSOs implement at checkpoints. As long as it all makes sense to them, it shouldn't matter if it makes no sense to us. And in fact, we should be reassured when something makes no sense because it surely will confuse terrorists even more!

That's what makes the TSA highly effective at doing whatever they're supposed to be doing.


The public has to put together puzzles with missing pieces. There are scientific reasons why liquid water is prohibited and frozen water is permitted. Saying frozen water could be used as a club is a wild scenario. A sock full of quarters would hurt too I would think. Should we prohibit quarters and socks through the Checkpoint? The two are not close in threat level. Liquid water(Potential explosives) could take down an aircraft. Frozen water will hit 1 person and cause a bruise and bump.

LTSO with Answers said...

If they truly know what they're talking about, independent peer-reviewed research should back them up. Funny how you and your agency can't point to any such research, isn't it?

Maybe no one wants to use the money and time to conduct such research? Nothing stops a company from testing the same things governments around the world has tested. Maybe you are up to the task anon? No independant studies are done on 3-1-1. Not TSA's fault that no independant party wants to.

Anonymous said...

Kat says

In point of fact, neither chicken salad nor guacamole should be restricted by 311 since it specifically says "if there's a medical need."

Most people have a medical need to eat. But the TSA dismisses medical needs while giving lip service to them. I was told by a TSO that even a doctor's letter was inadequate because "anyone could forge one of those."


I think saying just eating is a medical need doesn't quite cut it. Grown ups are able to control hungar and when they eat. I guess that is why TSOs would have to talk to the individual and find out why someone medically needs food. People will say anything most of the time to get what they want. If someone is hungry enough they will pack some food that is not going to be restricted. If they do not pack food that they can bring then that is the passengers fault for not thinking.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Kat the 4th matter is plasma which is defined as ionized gas. Not sure if it could be a specific sub category or if this website just classifies it as a 4th matter. Things have changed since I have learned about this stuff. I never knew about it, thanks for sharing.

RB said...

What no puppy post late Friday afternoon?

Guess Bob's handlers didn't give him permission to speak.

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
LTSO With Answers writes, regarding frozen water bottles:

If the water is completely frozen it is not prohibited.

Jim Huggins said...

Please produce one piece of documentation proving your assertion.


I see how the public website may be a bit confusing. I do not know why it is organized the way it is. That is the Office of Public Affairs. Maybe Blogger Bob will ask to clarify this issue for the public. No proof I can show you. The information on the website is all I could refer you to.

October 1, 2010 12:21 PM
...............

Oh come on, confusing?

The TSA website does not address ice for the general public in any way, shape, or form.

That is not confusing, what TSA keeps claiming is just not there.

You would think that such a professional organization that TSA claims itself to be could handle something like this, eh?

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
George said...

Yet another arbitrary TSA rule ..........


The public has to put together puzzles with missing pieces. There are scientific reasons why liquid water is prohibited and frozen water is permitted. Saying frozen water could be used as a club is a wild scenario. A sock full of quarters would hurt too I would think. Should we prohibit quarters and socks through the Checkpoint? The two are not close in threat level. Liquid water(Potential explosives) could take down an aircraft. Frozen water will hit 1 person and cause a bruise and bump.

October 1, 2010 12:46 PM

But TSA will not permit a "Tactical Pen" yet a 6 inch phillips screwdriver is perfectly ok.

http://www.tsa.gov/who_we_are/workforce/workforce_stories/catch_100110.shtm

Don't try using common sense on us because TSA does not use common sense.

Anonymous said...

how come you're allowed to bring screwdrivers inyour carryon...they can be dangerous also.

Anonymous said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Liquid water(Potential explosives) could take down an aircraft.


But not if it's poured into many <3.4 ounce containers, then poured into a big container once you're past security, I guess. Right?

See, that's the fatal flaw with the 3-1-1 rule. Anyone can split up their 'liquid explosive' into small bottles, waltz right past the TSA, and recombine it into one bottle. Therefore, 3-1-1 is useless.

Additionally, anyone can 'game' the system. Imagine a 2 liter bottle of "cream soda" (really gasoline) with a tiny timer circuit hidden up in the cap. Someone tries to bring it thru security, the brave and intrepid TSA catches this 'potential (real) explosive' and... dumps it inthe trash right next to the 100 people lined up waiting to get through security. Boom. Therefore, 3-1-1 is actually is a threat to flyers.

Frozen water will hit 1 person and cause a bruise and bump.

No, frozen water will melt into "Liquid water(Potential explosives)". :-)

LTSO with Answers said...

RB said...

But TSA will not permit a "Tactical Pen" yet a 6 inch phillips screwdriver is perfectly ok.

http://www.tsa.gov/who_we_are/workforce/workforce_stories/catch_100110.shtm

Don't try using common sense on us because TSA does not use common sense.


I like to think that HQ makes things broad like that because to make an extensive specific list of all things prohibited would burden officers in the field. A generic category and enforce all things within. I could be wrong though. Is it easier to remember and enforce all tools over 7" are prohibited or is it easier to enforce specific tools like pipe wrench, pry bar, 3/4" socket wrench, levels, nunchuck chalk lines, cold chisel, etc.(examples) I think the long list of stuff would be hard to remember and cause even more inconsistincies and chaos. Just a thought.

LTSO with Answers said...

Ayn said...

Have they actually told you that one of the two impossible potions exists:

1. It is mixed before entering the airport, safe to transport (no nitro-glycerine), invisible to chemical detection (no nitro-glycerine), and cannot be poured from individual 3 oz bottles into one large bottle
2. It can be assembled from separate components without the aid of a fully equiped chemical lab, it is mixed after passing through the TSA checkpoint, and all the components are invisible to chemical detection

I'm betting they haven't told you that, so therefore you telling me how much you trust them is a red herring.


Ayn I know we have been over this before. Know that if there was no 3-1-1 policy in place that any size liquid would not be looked at in the suspicion that it is looked at with 3-1-1 in place.

No 3-1-1
So you have your 16oz bottle of explosives that you are transporting safely. Yes Ayn, safely because it has been done! And you come through the airport. You are going through screening and you have your bottle just out in a bin because its in a soda bottle and you place lots of jackets and stuff on top of it. It is x-rayed and the officer sees a drink bottle and jackets and clears the items through.

If 3-1-1 was in place that would of not been cleared. Yes your right we could test the bottle but without 3-1-1 we wouldn't of had a policy suspecting such items. I am trying to explain best I can.

avxo said...

LTSO With Answers wrote:

"Liquid water(Potential explosives) could take down an aircraft. Frozen water will hit 1 person and cause a bruise and bump."

In the 60's and 70's the CIA developed "explosive flour" that could be made into a dough and even baked into the shape of a load.

Using your logic, a couple of soggy bread slices around a spam sandwich are potential explosives too.

Why that croissant the snooty French guy had in his carryon going through the checkpoint last week was practically ticking!

So quickly LTSO, get the ball rolling so that baked goods get added on the list so that we can finally stamp out this deliciou... err... I mean insidious threat.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome!

Cant believe that Gaga had handcuffs - but i guess no one should be!

Anonymous said...

"how come you're allowed to bring screwdrivers inyour carryon...they can be dangerous also"

Because TSA does not actually care about security.

LTSO with Answers said...

Anon said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Liquid water(Potential explosives) could take down an aircraft.

But not if it's poured into many <3.4 ounce containers, then poured into a big container once you're past security, I guess. Right?

See, that's the fatal flaw with the 3-1-1 rule. Anyone can split up their 'liquid explosive' into small bottles, waltz right past the TSA, and recombine it into one bottle. Therefore, 3-1-1 is useless.


Let's hope that the mixture gets ruined when this scenario is done. Good thing this stuff needs to be very precise.

Additionally, anyone can 'game' the system. Imagine a 2 liter bottle of "cream soda" (really gasoline) with a tiny timer circuit hidden up in the cap. Someone tries to bring it thru security, the brave and intrepid TSA catches this 'potential (real) explosive' and... dumps it inthe trash right next to the 100 people lined up waiting to get through security. Boom. Therefore, 3-1-1 is actually is a threat to flyers.

If more than just the liquid was present in the bottle, it would not be thrown in the trash. Law enforcement would be involved in this scenario.

No, frozen water will melt into "Liquid water(Potential explosives)". :-)

Yes sir. Frozen water will melt back into liquid water :-)

LTSO with Answers said...

RB said...

Oh come on, confusing?

The TSA website does not address ice for the general public in any way, shape, or form.

That is not confusing, what TSA keeps claiming is just not there.

You would think that such a professional organization that TSA claims itself to be could handle something like this, eh?


Oh RB I was poking around and found the ice issue on the TSA public website. It is addressed for your needs. It is not under medical needs either!

http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements.

It is there. Hope this helps all with the mystery.

Anonymous said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Anon said...
See, that's the fatal flaw with the 3-1-1 rule. Anyone can split up their 'liquid explosive' into small bottles, waltz right past the TSA, and recombine it into one bottle. Therefore, 3-1-1 is useless.

Let's hope that the mixture gets ruined when this scenario is done. Good thing this stuff needs to be very precise.


First of all, the Binary Liquid Explosive scare is bull.

This isn't the movies, where a syringe of dark liquid squirts into a glass vial of clear liquid, and the bomb squad guy goes "Uh oh, it's armed" just before it explodes in his face. Binary liquid explosives just don't work like that in real life.

A binary liquid explosive needs to be mixed carefully- a process involving mixing the two liquids drop by drop, stirring carefully, in an ice bath, and avoiding the toxic fumes. For more details, see: http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200608/msg00087.html As you can see, it's extremely unlikely anyone would manage to do that on a plane. So, that just leaves a liquid explosive that doesn't need mixing. And, as I said before, that can be divided up and go right past the TSA.

Thus, 3-1-1 is useless.

Additionally, anyone can 'game' the system. Imagine a 2 liter bottle of "cream soda" (really gasoline) with a tiny timer circuit hidden up in the cap. Someone tries to bring it thru security, the brave and intrepid TSA catches this 'potential (real) explosive' and... dumps it inthe trash right next to the 100 people lined up waiting to get through security. Boom. Therefore, 3-1-1 is actually is a threat to flyers.

If more than just the liquid was present in the bottle, it would not be thrown in the trash.


Ha ha ha. You make me laugh. Do you really think it would be visible? Here's a test- take a penny or nickle. Glue it inside a 2-liter soda bottle cap. Then screw the cap on. Then look. Can you see the coin? Nope. Especially if there's 'soda' in the bottle. A simple timer circuit, with a hearing aid battery, should be about that size.

And so, those are the two criticisms of the 3-1-1 rule: It won't stop bad people from getting whatever liquid they want through security- they just need to put it into small bottles and put them in a single quart-sized Ziploc(tm). And the liquids that are taken are certainly not handled like the "Potential explosives" the TSA CLAIMS them to be, but rather handled and disposed of carelessly, like the un-dangerous substances the TSA KNOWS them to be.

Jim Huggins said...

LTSO With Answers:

No, no, no.. Look at that webpage you cited. The information you copied was one of six bullet points, all dealing with medical exceptions to the 3-1-1 rules. Look at the paragraph right above the bullet points:

"To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounce (100ml) of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):"

The plain and obvious meaning is that ice is only "acceptable" if a passenger needs it for "health and welfare" reasons.

Of course, we hear reports all the time that the actual practice at the checkpoint is different. How is a humble passenger supposed to know what the actual rule is?

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
RB said...

Oh come on, confusing?

The TSA website does not address ice for the general public in any way, shape, or form.

That is not confusing, what TSA keeps claiming is just not there.

You would think that such a professional organization that TSA claims itself to be could handle something like this, eh?


Oh RB I was poking around and found the ice issue on the TSA public website. It is addressed for your needs. It is not under medical needs either!

http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

..................

Your taking that paragraph out of context. The wording you quote is a bullet under the exceptions for those peoples with special needs, not the general public.

If your reading comprehension is equal to others at TSA then I see the problem.
...........................


To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounce (100ml) of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):

Baby formula, breast milk, and juice if a baby or small child is traveling;

All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including petroleum jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes;

Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;

Life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs;
Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and,

Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering which of the following items I might be permitted to bring on my next flight:

* a brick
* small pointy sticks commonly called golf pencils and a nice sturdy rubber band?
* 3 100ml containers filled with mercury

Ayn R. Key said...

LTSO...

It's amazing that you can take time out to tell me I'm wrong, but not to tell me how or where or in what detail I'm wrong.

Your "16 oz bottle" and "safe to transport" is addressed in my post. Nitro is volatile to transport, and your 3-1-1 rule doesn't address storing 16 oz of it in 5 bottles of 3.4 oz each.

Gunner said...

Why does it seem as though TSA's policies are driven less by real secuirty concernt than by:

1) The tone and tenor of national media coverage.
2) What happens to Hollywood celebs during the screening (or fawing) process.

Anonymous said...

Are u all Anonymous that insane???
Ever put something else in a container that isnt what it is used for???? duhhhh Lets see what can Do with a swiss army knife on a key chain dah doesnt it cut???? Think about what you are saying, we are not doing this out of spite.

Anonymous said...

So are badminton rackets allowed as carry-on? The website's "Can I bring...?" section is useless in addressing this. It just says if something can be used as a club, it's not allowed. So where does a badminton racket fall? Yes or no?

Website basically just says it'll be up to the screener at the checkpoint to be the final authority.

These are expensive (>$200) rackets that won't fit in my checked luggage, so if I can't carry them on, I won't take them on my trip (they are gifts), but I can't wait till I'm at the checkpoint to know if they're allowed.

I can't believe such a common item as a tennis or badminton racket isn't specifically spelled out as prohibited or permitted!

Well TSA'ers? Anything definitive on this?

LTSO with Answers said...

RB said...

Your taking that paragraph out of context. The wording you quote is a bullet under the exceptions for those peoples with special needs, not the general public.

If your reading comprehension is equal to others at TSA then I see the problem.


It is not my reading comprehension thanks. It is the fact that I already know the information and know what I am reading and how to correlate it.

I don't see the problem with how it is written. I see where you and Jim are coming from. There are bullets explaining juices and directly stating for a medical reason. Ice does not state this in its bullet. Does it satisfy the public's needs? Well I guess not but the information is there in a confusing way.

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
RB said...

Your taking that paragraph out of context. The wording you quote is a bullet under the exceptions for those peoples with special needs, not the general public.

If your reading comprehension is equal to others at TSA then I see the problem.


It is not my reading comprehension thanks. It is the fact that I already know the information and know what I am reading and how to correlate it.

I don't see the problem with how it is written. I see where you and Jim are coming from. There are bullets explaining juices and directly stating for a medical reason. Ice does not state this in its bullet. Does it satisfy the public's needs? Well I guess not but the information is there in a confusing way.

October 6, 2010 10:03 AM
...
I am afraid that it is your reading comprehension that is being questioned.

The entire section of text that is being discussed is completely for people with special needs. All of the bullet points are directed only to people with special needs.

I suggest TSA could easily clarify this matter but for some reason has not.

Care to explain why your agency will let this dis-information to continue when the fix would take a matter of minutes?

Anonymous said...

So what *is* the deal with sewing needles? My hobby is embroidery and I'd like to be able to do it on the plane. All the site says is that sharp objects are allowed for those with a medical need, and that small scissors are allowed. But sewing needles, which are harmless, are not addressed.

LTSO with Answers said...

Care to explain why your agency will let this dis-information to continue when the fix would take a matter of minutes?

RB I am equally as clueless as you.

LTSO with Answers said...

Anon said...
So what *is* the deal with sewing needles? My hobby is embroidery and I'd like to be able to do it on the plane. All the site says is that sharp objects are allowed for those with a medical need, and that small scissors are allowed. But sewing needles, which are harmless, are not addressed.

Anon... sewing needles are good to go.

RB said...

LTSO with Answers said...
Care to explain why your agency will let this dis-information to continue when the fix would take a matter of minutes?

RB I am equally as clueless as you.

October 13, 2010 10:21 AM
.........
So you finally agree that the information concerning ice that TSA provides is not directed at the general public.

We have made progress.

Anonymous said...

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