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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
Do You Feel Safer? 
16th-Oct-2006 09:39 am
spiral staircase to heaven
Due in part to excessive personal hygene, tamheals was running quite late for her flight to Orlando this morning. When we hit traffic on I-70, I informed her that she would not arrive at DIA in time to check her luggage. After a rough decision about high heeled shoes, I consolidated her luggage down to one carry-on bag and one personal item, the latter containing her toiletries bag containing essential oils bottles, a tube of toothpaste, and small bottles of shampoo.

Speeding on Peña Blvd. didn't make up enough time, so she realized in the security line that she wouldn't catch her flight. When she got to the checkpoint, they informed her that her toothpaste and shampoo exceeded the allowed 3 oz maximum.

The purported purpose of draconian measures at airport security checkpoints is to make sure that flights are safe because nobody aboard the plane is carrying anything dangerous. However, the rule is not "Passengers may not bring dangerous items on board." Instead, there is a long list of specific items which are not allowed. I ca nunderstand not letting passengers take an ice pick on board (clearly dangerous). But they didn't say "Sorry, ma'am, you're not allowed to bring shampoo and toothpaste on the plane." They said "Sorry, ma'am, you're not allowed to bring this much shampoo and toothpaste on the plane." (I believe she even left her 2.5oz of personal lubricant at home.)

There are four possible conclusions to draw from this:

  • There is a way to hijack an airplane with five ounces of shampoo and five ounces of toothpaste (and a dash of eye medicine and personal lubricant) which is not possible with three ounces of shampoo and three ounces of toothpaste.
  • The TSA has no idea what can blow up an airplane, but some Muslims in England came up with a (well-shampooed) hair brained idea involving unknown liquids, so the TSA is throwing chemistry to the wind assuming any liquid in sufficient quantities can blow up an airplane.
  • The TSA is well aware that you can't blow up a plane with shampoo, but wants to hassle you anyway for political purposes.
  • The TSA doesn't trust its employees to make decisions based on the gestalt of a traveller's luggage, so they devise a spaghetti code security policy in the hopes that any terrorists get entangled in mindless rule enforcement.
16th-Oct-2006 08:58 pm (UTC)
If they were serious about safety issues, they wouldn't allow laptops (or at least laptop batteries) on planes. I can only surmise it's for harassment purposes.
17th-Oct-2006 04:54 am (UTC)
I read an article which proposed that lithium ion batteries are safer in the cabin (where you could put them out with a pillow and a blanket) rather than in the hold (where it might catch several boxes on fire before being put out by machinery).

I was wondering earlier today why Richard Reed didn't try to light his shoe on fire in the bathroom where nobody would see him.
16th-Oct-2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
5) Poorly-groomed terrorists wouldn't dream of hijacking a plane.
16th-Oct-2006 10:52 pm (UTC)
I saw a comic the other day with a classroom labelled "TSA Training" and on the blackboard was written "Inconvenience = Security!"

That really seems to be the basic principle here.
16th-Oct-2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
I laugh every time I am reminded of these rules.

Last trip I had stateside, I flew through San Francisco. Going through security to catch my domestic connection, my bag was selected because it was "suspicious". The lady took it to a table and proceded to dig through it. Mind you, not in a way that would look for something of danger, but in a way that would look for something barely qualifiable as "against the rules".

She found my amenity kit. She dug around in it, trying to read what each small item was. AH HA! The culprit was found. My 1 oz free-from-the-plane-toothpaste (this was before the slight ease of restriction) had stowed away in my kit. It was so small that I didn't see it when I removed crap that might make me dislike tsa even more.

I could tell that she felt so empowered and vindicated that she found my evil breath enhancement device. She even went as far as to make a snide comment about how I chose to carry on a selection of things...

The main problem I have with all of this is that there are are about 723476772 ways to make weapons... 17 of which are on a list of restricted plane items. Terrorism works. If you let it.
18th-Oct-2006 01:48 am (UTC)
E) All of the above?


Q) All of the above and (insert 30 other items here)

May I see your papers, please?
You are traveling where?
For what purpose?
You have more than $50.00 in cash or currency?
Is this your soap?

// Shudder //
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