Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taz Arnold’s Spiked Shoes Are Clear for Takeoff and Options for Prohibited Items That Are Not

Spiked Shoes
Photo courtesy of
Just last week at Dulles International (IAD), Taz Arnold came through the checkpoint and our X-ray Operator saw a pair of shoes like no other they had ever seen before… It was a pair of Louboutin Spikes. As you can imagine, the X-ray image was quite unique. After taking a closer look, our Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) permitted Taz to travel to the gate with his spiked shoes. It caused a slight delay, but it all turned out well in the end. Taz tweeted his experience and many different blogs understandably decided to jump on the chance to write about it. This led to a few tweets and blog comments sent in our direction.

While Mr. Arnold’s shoes were not a prohibited item, I’d like to talk a little about what happens when a prohibited item is brought through the checkpoint.

What caught my eye in many of the articles about the shoes was the word “confiscated.” Even if Mr. Arnold’s shoes would have been prohibited, he would have had options. I think some people assume that if a prohibited item is brought through the checkpoint, we just take it and that’s that. This is not the case. You have the option of being escorted out of the checkpoint with your item and at that point, you have a number of options:

1) Take the item to the ticket counter and check it in your baggage or a box provided by the airport.
2) Ship your item through the US Postal Service or other shipping service at the airport.
3) Hand the prohibited item to family or friends who may be at the airport to see you off.
4) Take the item to your car if you drove to the airport.
5) If the item is a liquid, gel or aerosol that meets the 3.4 oz requirements but was not packaged properly, you can depart the screening checkpoint, package it properly, and then return with it to the checkpoint.

If you’re not given these options, or not permitted to use them, you should ask to speak with a supervisor or manager. You can also use the Talk to TSA program to contact TSA Customer Support at that specific airport.

Of course, if you have an illegal, prohibited item, (guns, bombs, Illudium PU-36 Explosive Space Modulators) you will not be given the above options. You’ll have a conversation with a Law Enforcement Officer.

We understand passengers aren’t always able to use these options due to the chance of missing flights. If the passenger doesn’t have the time or doesn’t want to bother with it, they can surrender the item. So, what happens once an item is surrendered? Some people are under the wrong impression that our TSOs get to keep the items. Nico wrote a really informative blog post on what happens to surrendered items. You can read it here.  

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.