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Lighters, Nail Clippers and Lithium Batteries

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just wanted to jump in with a quick post based on some of the comments we’ve received so far about lighters, nail clippers and batteries. We just wanted to let you know that lighters and nail clippers are allowed through the checkpoint. Lighters were allowed starting in July 2007, (not including torch lighters) and nail clippers, as well as smaller scissors and tools, have been allowed through the checkpoint since December 2005. Unlike improvised explosives devices (IEDs), these items do not present a significant threat to an airplane.

Also, recent rules about spare lithium batteries in checked bags were enacted by the Federal Aviation Administration, not TSA. Click here (pdf) to see the FAA rules.

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team


Submitted by Anonymous on

You still haven't addressed the issue of small knives.

Submitted by Dave X on

Small scissors and tools are allowed since 2005? How about those little promotional swiss army penknives that go on your keyring?

Since 2005 I've tried rounding off the 1" blade like a butter knife, confiscated in ORF.

Breaking off the knife part leaving only the 3/4 inch scissors, tweezers and nail file: Accepted at ORF, Confiscated at STL.

What is a tool using human supposed to do?

How sharp are "round bladed butter knives"? Less sharp than a free plastic knife from Starbucks?

Submitted by Anonymous on

You still haven't explained why a sharp scissor with 4" long blades is allowed but a 1.5" tiny Swiss Army knife isn't. All I have to do is pop apart the 2 scissor blades and I now have TWO very sharp 6 inch or longer knives with convenient handles. Usually these blades are stronger and sharper than that found on the small S/A knife.

ALL blades of ANY size should be prohibited, including those found on scissors. If the TSA isn't worried about terrorists taking over planes with blades, why aren't Swiss Army knives allowed?

I can't take razor blades on a plane but I can take small eyeglass screwdrivers. Well, if I take one of those small eyeglass screwdrivers and unscrew the little screw that holds the blade into my wife's eyeliner pencil sharpener (which is allowed), I now have a razor blade!

Again, no common sense or consistency.

Why are baseball bats or other bludgeons not allowed? Gonna take over a plane by swinging a bat? Not likely (especially since I'll have scissors). Yet, I can bring my heavy camera tripod, pop off the 3 legs and have 3 nice sized bats for me and 2 other friends!

Again, no common sense!

I'm a TSO by the way and even we are sick of all the inconsistencies and looking like fools when we try to explain them to the passengers. No wonder they hate us!

There is no common sense here.

Submitted by Ottnott on

Bob, we don't need a blog to help the TSA explain or defend its policies and practices.

TSA is pissing people off, because its regulations and practices are a huge and expensive hassle that any intelligent person can see provides a very low return in terms of added security.

We are tired of having to go along with the charade.

TSA, unfortunately, lacks the credibility to simply state that its regulations and procedures are well thought out and are a strong deterrent to substantials security risks, etc.

The screening system is something that needs to be reviewed by independent bodies of experts who are given the clear mission of providing the best practical balance of security and expense/hassle.

We don't want our security designed by someone who wants it to reflect one political stance or another. We don't want our security designed by people who have been trying to defend a bad system. We don't want our security designed by reactions to a series of panics over threats, real or imagined.

Is that too much to ask? Quit insulting us. Quit harassing us. Quit adding so much to the hassle and expense of flying from US airports.

Quit pretending that the security we are getting in return is worth it. We know better. Those of us who have traveled through airports in parts of the world where terrorism is a longstanding threat also have seen and experienced better.

Submitted by Anonymous on


You are 100% correct!!!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Sure, the battery restriction was put in place by FAA and not TSA. But that doesn’t justify TSA’s poorly worded explanation of the rules.

The rules place no limit whatsoever on carry-on of lithium-ion batteries used by all consumer-grade cameras and the vast majority of laptop batteries. None of these batteries are over 100 Watt-hours. Yet TSA doesn’t come out and say that on the website; instead they (and FAA) publish vague rules that are easily misread to imply that you are allowed only one spare lithium-ion battery of any size.

I have already heard stories of abusive and misinformed TSOs in SEA confiscating expensive and perfectly permitted camera batteries from passengers at the checkpoint. I have already heard reports of TSOs at DCA being told by their supervisors that only one spare battery is allowed. How many TSOs are going to be able to do the Watt-hour calculation at the checkpoint, or are going to give the passenger benefit-of-the doubt when he does it for them?

Why can TSA publish clear rules, which would give passengers some leverage against abusive and misinformed TSOs? Why can’t they reassure passengers by permitting battery confiscation by TSOs only under the direct supervision of a (well-informed) screening manager?

I travel with an average of 6-8 lithium-ion batteries for a total of 4 devices (computer, phone, camera, gps), all under 100 Watt-hours, and now I have to be afraid of rogue screeners trying to confiscate them and threatening me with “Do you want to fly today?” if I stand up for myself. These batteries are expensive; they’re not a $1 shampoo bottle I can just toss. Yet another example of TSA eroding basic rights and dignities.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So what about the various keychain sized "multi-tools" like Swiss Army or Leatherman? I have a tiny little Leatherman Squirt that I keep in my purse. It has scissors, various screwdrivers, tweezers, a nail file, and a 1" knife that is sharpened on one side (and I use the term "sharpened" loosely). Do I have to worry about it getting confiscated if I forget to check it? My purse is a black hole...

I seem to remember a few years back that anything below 3" was ok. Of course, I'm sure that has changed now.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As an airport worker, I hear alot of rumors. One I heard is that the reason why blades are still banned is because the flight attendant union doesn't want blades onboard. It's said one of the 9/11 hijackers decapitated a flight attendant during the takeover. TSA would rather not be looking for these as, like lighters, they are not a real threat. Besides, anyone now tries anything on a plane with a knife will find several angry passegers in their way.

Oddly enough, knitting needles are allowed....

Submitted by Anonymous on

What "ottnott said..." is completey useless. We this, we that. How about some examples from parts of the world where terrorism is a longstanding threat also have seen and experienced better? Otherwise your rant is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Submitted by Jack on
TSA, unfortunately, lacks the credibility to simply state that its regulations and procedures are well thought out and are a strong deterrent to substantials security risks, etc.

The rules aren't well thought out. They are put into place by paper pushers who don't have to live by those same rules.

Lithium cells? The inspectors have a hard time in determining if a pencil or pen are permitted. Some of the inspectors barely posess basic English capabilities and you want them to determine what a battery is contructed from and decide to either make you toss it or threaten to arrest you when you complain about throwing away a $150 battery.

TSA, you've got to get your act together with the American public. I once listened to several Germans complain (in German) about the grief they got during the inspection process. Sorry TSA, but you've got a very real public image problem
Submitted by Anonymous on

How about some plain old fashion courtsey from TSA employees! I think I could put up with all of the rules stupidity if someone just said please and thankyou once in a while. Who trains these people? I once had a TSA screener in JFK tell me to take the bus if I did not like her attitude. At least I know SHE no longer worksat Thousands Standing Around - I got her fired!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Unlike improvised explosives devices (IEDs), these items do not present a significant threat to an airplane.

.... Thanks for pointing out the painfully obvious....

Submitted by Anonymous on

How long before the comment policy turns this into a heavily edited propaganda machine? I digress...

Reading through the Lithium policy, it almost *almost* makes sense. Except the standard battery in a laptop has proven more than sufficient to start a fire. Might as well not bother, eh?

The real concern here poorly trained TSA employees incorrectly enforcing the policy. Like someone said, i'll write off te $1 shampoo or $3 tooth paste but there is NO way i'm ditching a battery that will easily cost $100-200+ to replace...not to mention limiting my use of a computer on a 6+ Hr flight. And god forbid you argue! At best, you're delayed a bit while trying to convince a supervisor. More likely you waste a half hour or more, slow the line, get everyone mad and possibly miss your flight. Not as likely (if you're polite) but entirely possible is being arrested. Nice.

Does the TSA really thing any terrorist will EVER be able to take over a plane with a knife, scissor or probably even a gun? Not in the post-9/11 world, that's for sure. How about you just give EVERYONE on the plane a nice sharp knife? Solves the problem of a terrorist threatening unarmed people with one, eh?

The biggest laugh i get is the fact that no policy is every actualy explained in any detail. While John Smith might not know why 2x 10 ounce is less dangerous than 1x 20 ounce ... Mr. Terrorist Bomber probably knows already.

I honestly thing a better informed public would be a lot more useful than rag-tag enforcement of little understood rules. Oh, and can anyone tell me why there are laws/rules/guidelines that we're required to follow and yet the TSA/FAA/government refuses to actually publish? They even denied FOIA requests on the basis of "national security".

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was flying with a friend January of 2008 and her cuticle scissors were confiscated. They had curved approximately inch long blades.

If these have been allowed since 2005 could somebody notify all the screening agents?

Submitted by Anonymous on

You say that lighters have been allowed since July, 2007. Not quite!

The decision to repeal the ban on lighters was announced in July. It did not take effect until August 4th! The difference was significant to me as I took a long trip on August 2nd, 2007.

I pointed out that TSA had already decided that there was no reason to ban lighters, but there was a two-week gap between the announcement of the repeal and the date it took effect. I couldn't understand why it couldn't take effect immediately since the TSA admitted it was a pointless rule. The TSA worker explained that it took time for the rules to be promulgated through the system. BS!

A year earlier, the ban on perfumes was announced and implemented in one day (resulting in my wife's loss of a bottle of perfume). So a new restriction can be implemented immediately, but rescinding a mistake takes two weeks.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"Although it’s impossible to calculate the pain that terrorist attacks inflict on victims and society, when statisticians look at cold numbers, they have variously estimated the chances of the average person dying in America at the hands of international terrorists to be comparable to the risk of dying from eating peanuts, being struck by an asteroid or drowning in a toilet."

Submitted by Anonymous on

so, lighters, does this mean zippos?? or are those still on the no-no list?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Interesting comments. Now I'll add my own.

We've all read the reports of the "fake" bombs that make it through the security checkpoints. While that is kind of scary, it also show that the TSA is trying to make things better.

I propose that they also run tests at airports to see how frequently *allowed* items are being confiscated. This should include, scissors, Swiss army knives, files, batteries, etc.

At the very least, if they are going to "confiscate" items, they should provide some way for you to check those items, some of which are expensive, and have them placed with your the rest of checked luggage. Course, it could just be a big conspiracy to force us to buy replacement "items" to boost the economy 8).

I agree that there seems to be a lack of common sense on many of these items. For example, on the TSA website, screwdrivers are allow if the length is less than 7 inches. Scissors with blades less than 4 inches..and a screwdwriver! Now I've got three weapons, with handles! How strong are the windows anyway? What about those little devices to break windows?

Lithium batteries I can understand somewhat. Even a small one can be enough to start a fire if you short-circuit it (I almost set myself on fire once when the cap on one came off of the battery while it was in my pocket and my keys caused a short).

Basically, almost anything can be made into a weapon. The simplest solution is that everything be checked, but that's not feasible or fair to travelers.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I am attempting to get the specification sheets on the batteries used in my canon camera. I've already found the conversion factor on the "lithium rechargeable producers group" - whatever. It is labeled Amp-Hours times 0.3 to get equivalent Lithium content. The problem is my batter has milli-Amps on the label. What ya wanna bet that TSA cant do the the math?

My Canon batteries have below 0.3 grams of equivalent lithium each.
Thankfully, this is not quackery like the liquids ban. Of course, the rule came from the FAA so it does have a shot at some scientific backing

Lithium battery do have a small fire hazard associated with them. It is one of the reasons that electric and hybrid cars do not yet use them. The safety issues for that amount of lithium, in the event of an accident, have not yet been resolved.

This rule does not however do anything to improve the credibility of the TSA. 1) The TSA didn't write it. And 2) we've still go to see them effectively TRAIN their staff and have the rule implemented.

I have my doubts.

Oh, and why is there no downloadable complaint form for the performance of the TSA in the Field. It is not possible to actually get one from staff at the airport. Well, maybe if you go find a cop who will get one for you.

Submitted by Kieran on

If nail clippers, small scissors and lighters are safe why were they ever banned? If items were disallowed from being allowed onboard in the past solely due to reasons of trying to create the appearance of doing something in order to avoid criticism rather than safety, why should we believe in the validity of current rules(e.g. ban on liquids)?

Submitted by TSA TSO NY on

From TSAs website;
"Lithium-ion batteries, often found in laptop computers, differ from primary lithium batteries, which are often used in cameras. Some newer AA-size batteries are also primary lithium.

While there is no explosion hazard associated with either kind of battery, the Federal Aviation Administration has studied fire hazards associated with both primary and lithium-ion cells, and their extensive research is publicly available. As a result of this research, the FAA no longer allows large, palletized shipments of these batteries to be transported as cargo on passenger aircraft.

The research also shows that an explosion will not result from shorting or damaging either lithium-ion or primary lithium batteries. Both are, however, extremely flammable. Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft.

TSA has and will continue to work closely with the FAA on potential aviation safety and security issues, and TSA security officers are thoroughly and continually trained to find explosive threats. TSA does not have plans to change security regulations for electronic devices powered by lithium batteries.

Read the last line "TSA does not have plans to change security regulations for electronic devices powered by lithium batteries"

The FAA posted the Lithium rules. TSA is NOT changing it's procedures to do ANYTHING about Lithium batteries.

We initially recvd a notice telling us to screen for Lithium batteries. Within a day that was rescinded. We were told that it's NOT TSAs job to enforce FAA policeies. I'm surprised our extremely knowledgeable, hand picked bloggers aren't aware of TSAs own policies.

And why do all "Nicknames" print out as small letters when typed as caps?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think the TSA employees should stop posting stupid comments here. I am sure your employer already knows who you are and you wont get a raise next year...
If people just shut up, take their shoes off, stop trying to bring crap through the line, I can get to my gate faster and not have to wait in line as long behind annoying people..
If someone has something banned, on their person, they should not be allowed on their flight..
Mabye then, people will think about what they pack. Its not like we all dont know what we cant bring..
Get a grip!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ok guys and gals first things first. Even though you may think that just because you see TSO's enforcing certain bans and you see us taking those banned items does not mean that TSA created those rules. Sadly enough when it comes to certain bans we are stuck with enforcing them such as the lithium batteries and until recently the lighters ban, guess what agency created these, I'll tell you the Department of Transportation (DOT). Since we already screen the public's luggage the airlines and the DOT got together and basically said they did not want to screen the luggage again for those items and insisted that TSA look for them. Also to my understanding that the reason small blades are still banned is because of the stewardess union, I can’t confirm it for fact, just what I've heard through the grapevine. Would the TSOs at your local airport like to search just for IEDs, components of IEDs, guns and other items that could cause serious harm to the flying public? The answer is an outstanding YES, but unfortunately TSA is part of the bureaucracy and we have many hoops to jump through so everyone that flies and those of us that are buried elbow deep in dirty laundry looking for the liquids, gels and aerosols that where left in a carry on, are stuck with regulations that make people go huh. Maybe one day TSA will be given the freedom of just searching for actual threats, but until that happens give us a little credit for basically being an agency just out its infancy but not quit in the adolescent phase, and by the way please cut the TSOs a little slack, after all we did not create the rules but it is our job to follow and enforce them. Until next time happy flying.

Submitted by Oldnavsailor on

TSA has always let nail clippers go and even before TSA. It was the file that was a problem until they removed the nail file ban in early 2002. I worked for the private company then and work for TSA now.

Submitted by Luggage And Bri... on

Thanks for clarifying that the FAA released the battery rule, not the TSA. I wasn't aware of that. I do suppose that the TSA will be there to execute this change, any light you can provide on how the batteries will be inspected, or how we know how much lithium content is in our batteries would be greatly appreciated.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I may be able to understand lighters, I could see a case where someone could use them to light say a bomb...or the plane chairs. But honestly, if it's to light a bomb shouldn't you have caught that before? Yes, yes, redundancy, it's always good, but still.

As for the nail clippers, well, I think even the TSA is embaressed by that one.

As for Lithium Batteries (as you capitalized), I have dealt with them before, even carrying on a small case of them with out anything happening. They don't normally just catch fire anymore then normal acid or base batteries suddenly leak corrosive matieral onto the surroundings. Yes, there have been cases of laptop batteries catching fire, but that's what you have fire extinguishers for! Small, unexpected fires.

And all the small sharp objects, my god, if the majority of America, with all our anger-prone and unstable people could fly for DECADES with 4 inch blades without too much incedent, how is this a problem. Sure, a terrorist might try to hold someone hostage, but that's what the Air Marshals are for. But stopping people with a 1"-sub 1" blade is crazy. Sure you could kill someone with that, but you could do it just as easily with your bare hands.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Being that lithium batteries are probably the only thing that may pose a real threat, not by terrorists but cellphones and laptops have been known to catch on fire, I can not see why these are alowed but 4oz or shampoo are not. When lighters where banned I was able to get through with them and I accidently got through with a small pocket knife once. Not on purpose but it was on my keys and I realised it after I got to my destination. They did steal a lighter from me that day. These rules distract the TSA from finding the things they need to look for and make them play babysitter to those who smoke and enjoy short fingernail. I know that they are allowed now but that just shows how little thought goes into these rules in the first place. Where these things really ever a threat? Are haircare products a threat now? The answer is no. TSA and the government just wants to keep us worried about terrorists and by creating these stupid rules they are distracted from their real mission. The more fear the pump into us the more power they can have and they are more conserned with this then actually keeping weapons off planes.

Submitted by You're Lucky I'... on

Q: Is the TSA for security or for show?

Let's take the following hypothetical scenario:
A terrorist group acquires 2 vans, 10 suitcases and 2000 lbs of explosives. They drive up to the terminal at the Atlanta airport and, over the course of a few minutes, put their explosive laden suitcases on active baggage carousels. Nobody notices them because there are thousands of people in the terminal. Ten minutes later, BANG, 2000 pounds of explosives detonate in the terminal of the busiest airport in the world and air travel on the east coast of the USA is virtually shut down for weeks. No TSA checkpoints were breached, and there is basically zero chance at prevention of the attack.

A: TSA is for show.

How long did it take me to think up this scenario? About 5 minutes; imagine what the pros could do. I'd love to hear what the TSA thinks about that.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Apparently, nail clippers suddenly became less dangerous as of 2005. Is this because of a change in the manufacturing process, or was the original ban as transparently pointless as it appeared?

Submitted by Britt on

Hi Bob, I hope you actually read this, I doubt you will though.

I have a question, I am a federal employee, I get secondary screening almost all the damn time I fly which is only when I am on orders, I was told it is because I fly so often... Okay, so riddle me this, Batman, I am on Orders and as a federal employee on orders to fly I am still a frequent flyer and must be searched? I bet that means that those pesky Marines flying to Iraq and Afghanistan, as they are flying to terrorist areas, they must all get secondary screening as well...

Bob, I work for the Navy, I have done work in collaboration with the TSA, but sometimes wouldn't it be nice if the Constitution had some sway in how American Citizens were treated? Robert Reid was an idiot, he was trying to light C4 on fire. You and I both know C4 burns when lit, but does not explode. (Ex 10th Mountain Soldier trained in expedient explosives)...

Last rant and then I'll get back to real work.

When did all my rights fly out the window? I mean, remember when you were a kid and we used to joke about the Soviet Union and how people couldn't even travel without carrying their papers? Now the USA is just as bad.



Submitted by Anonymous on

My comment is off topic because posts are closed where I should post it.

I have a suggestion TSA should implement which may help speed things along.

when I go to the airport and there is a long line at security, the first thing I do is go to the front of the line and take enough trays to handle my shoes, laptop and coat.

I go back to my place in line, and take off my shoes, take off my coat, unload my laptop and empty my pockets.

Yes, I'm the guy who is totally ready to go through while you're standing there in front of the machine taking your shoes off, digging through your backpack and otherwise holding things up. I politely walk around you.

In fact, I'm through the screening process while you're still standing their with your belt.

The idea is to utilize the time you spend waiting in line to actually be ready to go through security. Grab two or three trays (depending on what you need) and get to work so that when you arrive at the xray machine, you're ready.

On the otherside, when your items come out of the xray, stack all of your trays, grab your stuff and walk almost to the end of security. Find a little place to set your stuff down and get yourself back together AWAY from the xray machine so that you don't cause a JAM. Too many people stand around the output of the xray machine causing a huge tie up. They need to move away from the machine and spread out so that more flow can get through.

TSA should encourage preparing for screening before you get to the xray by putting trays out every ten feet along the line. It might work. Works for me.

-Bob from LA

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Dave X said...
Small scissors and tools are allowed since 2005? How about those little promotional swiss army penknives that go on your keyring?

Since 2005 I've tried rounding off the 1" blade like a butter knife, confiscated in ORF.

Breaking off the knife part leaving only the 3/4 inch scissors, tweezers and nail file: Accepted at ORF, Confiscated at STL.

What is a tool using human supposed to do?

How sharp are "round bladed butter knives"? Less sharp than a free plastic knife from Starbucks?

February 1, 2008 5:16 PM
Anything with a blade is prohibited. Scissors 4 inches in length from fulcrum to tip of blade are permitted. Small tools (7" or less in total length) are permitted. Now, the following items are prohibited at checkpoint but permitted in baggage:
Drills and drill bits
Saws of any kind
Razor blades that are removable from a razor (straight edge blades, double edge blades, etc.)
Knives of any length this hasn't changed.
Fireworks (not permitted at checkpoint or baggage)
Lighters are permitted at checkpoint but torch lighters are still prohibited (can not be put in baggage)
It is highly suggested that these items be placed in baggage if you want to take them with you. Folks use your common sense, if you t hink it may be prohibited, then you should either leave it home if you can, or pack it in baggage if its allowed. Also, don't listen to the media, they have no real clue what is or is not permitted, and often times they send the wrong messages. The only good source of information when traveling is the TSA web site.

Submitted by Dave X on

You don't need to explain to us what you think is allowed or not allowed in your rules. The screeners don't care what some web site says, so why should we?

All you really need to do is:

1) Make your rules clear enough that your employees understand.

2) Explain the rules to us in the manner they are actually being applied.

If you could do the first, TSA would be a heck of a lot more respected. If you can do the second, maybe this blog would be worthwhile.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Scissors don't pose a threat to planes but a water bottle does? something is wrong here...

Submitted by Anonymous on



Submitted by Anonymous on

Hey, if the pilots on 9/11 had guns, 9/11 would have never happened. Why not allow armed passengers? I mean, what kind of lunatic would draw a gun on an entire cabin full of armed people? Box cutters? Please.. 9/11 is an excuse for tyranny, and the sicko liberals that pulled it off are still walking around in the white house, and in London's financial square. I carry concealed. Guns are legal. Its called the 2nd amendment.

The answer to 1984, is 1776.

Submitted by Thevoiceofreason on

Well, exactly how different does a laptop look outside its bag compared to inside?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lighter ban? Oh, give me a break. The first thing that has to happen is they find it. I found out in 2006 when returning to the states for a wedding. No check leaving Frankfurt. Carried my bic lighter in my carryon baggage. When I got ready to return through L.A international, I just threw it in the same bag. It was x-rayed. The bag went right through without any problems. I was amazed. I'd thrown others out in fear of getting caught.

The inspection is a joke. My wife regularly carries knitting needles to stay busy during the long flights. No problem. I'd really be more worried about them than a lighter.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I fly to US from England two or three times a year. The differences in policies at each end really irk me. In the UK I was only allowed one carry-on, but it could be larger than one in the US. No nail clippers, slightly different volumes of liquids. No particular problem with LiIon batteries.
I found the TSA staff to mostly be efficient, professional, though I was careful to not mess them around, and they seemed moderately patient with often clueless members of the public.

overall, though, I'd go along with Bruce Schneier about much of it being "security theater"

Submitted by Publisher on

The TSA in Omaha confiscated a brand new solid gold lighter from me which was still in its original packaging. When I asked why, the TSA said because "flammables" were not allowed on planes.

I explained that gold is not flammable and the lighter was new and did not have nor had ever had lighter fluid within it. The TSA said, "Tough, it stays and you go or both of you stay."

I pointed out that the solid gold lighter was new and in its original packaging. The TSA said, "Tough again, if you want trouble, you can go to Federal Prison."

I said, can I at least see if someone will hold it for me at a commercial establishment outside of security?" The TSA responded, "No, because you may be a terrorist and you can't leave security with an item we are in the process of confiscating."

I said, "Please, Good Sir, I am not a terrorist, just a guy with a gold lighter that is not flammable in any way." The TSA responded, "We may just keep that gold lighter since it is valuable."

I pointed out that I thought this was against regulations and constituted mere thievery." The TSA said, "As an Argentine, you should be used to corrupt government officials, so what's the big deal?"

QUESTION: How can I get my solid gold lighter back or be reimbursed $1000 from the TSA?

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

It's nice that the TSA has allowed lighters and nail clippers.

Will you please tell your screeners that lighters and nail clippers are allowed?

Submitted by Britt on

Concerning that 2000 lbs of explosives thing that "You're Lucky I am Not a Terrorist" just put in here...

I don't actually believe it is that simple, you see, have you noticed police in Airports? had you ever noticed video cameras? And, that 2000 lbs of explosives, so, 40 people, each carrying in a 55 lb bag each walk into a terminal and put these bags all on active carousels and no one notices people putting bags on rather than taking them off?

Seems suspicious to me. I would strongly suggest you trial run this with 2000 lbs of playdoh and see how far you get dude. I am sure the police will have something to say to you.

Of course the TSA wouldn't see anything, they are not there to guard the airport, they are there to help be part of the team to guard the skies... But the police you see all over airports, they would surely notice 10 vans pulling up as you suggest.

Yeah, terrorists are morons. You and I, we could come up with a much better plan, but you know what? I am damn sure there are smart people whose job it is is to come up with possible scenarios and then try to devise solutions.

Frankly I think the TSA could use some more smart people working for them (hint, I can be had I already have a clearance and work for the Navy) but I do believe that regardless of what our elected officials do to screw things up, public servants like myself our out there every day trying to get the job done.

Submitted by I'm Not A Team ... on

Dear TSA,

Please reinstate no nail clipper policy. Not because I think they are a threat to anyone's safety, but because it is terribly annoying to hear people clipping their finger nails on a plane. It is even more annoying to be hit with a clipped nail from the person sitting next to you.

Thank you for your concern.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I work for TSA and can tell you that there will NEVER be a way to make everyone happy. We try our best to be vigilant and do the right things to protect the public, yet Americans never look at the BIG PICTURE. They are so worried about the small inconveniences they may go though, that they seem to forget about the thousands of brothers, sisters, moms and dads that we lost just a short time ago. I know that some of our officers take some rules too the extreme. Some of us may need to lighten up, but I can't apologize for the procedures that we enforce because I truly believe in them. I hope that the next time you fly, you can take a step back and truly try to look at the big pucture....SAFETY FOR AMERICANS!!!

Submitted by Dave X on

@ 5:16 Feb 1, TSO Tom said...

"Anything with a blade is prohibited. Scissors 4 inches in length from fulcrum to tip of blade are permitted"

@ 9:36 Feb 5,
"Knives - except for plastic or round bladed butter knives. No [in carryon] Yes [in checked]"

Tom, the TSA website contradicts you with an exception for round bladed butter knives. How do I keep a screener from taking a butter knife? If it was you, it sounds like you'd take it with your interpretation of the rules. You say " The only good source of information when traveling is the TSA web site" but that isn't true. The screeners don't give a whit about some TSA website says is permitted.

Travellers interpreting the rules as posted on isn't the problem, it is that the plan doesn't match the reality of what is happening at the screening stations.

What travellers see happening at the screening stations makes little sense.

The bigger service this blog seems to provide is the half-grammatical rantings of the screeners who say they're poorly paid, overworked, just following orders, they know best, and you should just go along with them -- these are the capricious petty bureaucrats that travellers have to appease.

We already know we're dealing with bureacratic insanity, this blog just confirms it.

Submitted by Toby on

Anonymous at 9:01 AM:

Are you proud of the guy's $1000 gold lighter that was stolen? Are you committed enough to America's security to justify that theft?

I'm pretty sure you just made an argument for absolute fascism. Any evil is justifiable if it keeps us "secure."

Give me a break, and come up with a better argument than this drivel.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Re: lighters:
these items do not present a significant threat to an airplane.

Really? I would rather the person next to me be eating their yogurt than playing with a lighter.

Silly me. The TSA knows best. I'm sure the tobacco industry had nothing to do with the lighter ban being lifted....
Submitted by Anonymous on

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I think Publisher is a really good fictional writer. If TSA wouldn't bend the rules for you, maybe you should have gotten the postmaster to bend his rules and mail it home for you. You should put in a claim at the airport that supposedly confiscated your lighter so they can investigate this incident. We do have hundreds of cameras that we use for these type of claims. Let me know how that goes:)