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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

It's nice to know that changes to the policies regarding things like lighters and nail clippers have been put into effect.

It would be a lot nicer if those changes to the policy were better communicated to the TSA personnel and more consistently applied in airports.

Submitted by Amandragoran on

Knives like the Swiss Army ones mentioned in several of these postings, steak knives (the serrated ones used with your dinner), and survival or buck style knives are not allowed at all. There is no allowable length on a knife. The big confusion I have seen comes from the way some of the posters and information on websites relay the length allowance of a pair of scissors (which is 4" or less from the fulcrum). To restate, no knives of ANY length are allowed to pass the checkpoint.

Submitted by Dave X on

Amandragoran @February 5, 2008 7:19 PM:
" knives of ANY length are allowed to pass the checkpoint."

The screeners confiscated my swiss army knife which had NO knife. All it had was tiny scissors, the nail file, tweezers and toothpick.

On the TSA site it makes an exception for plastic knifes and round bladed butter knives. I understand the "No" part of "Knives - except for plastic or round bladed butter knives. No" rule. What is hard to understand is the exceptions.

The exceptions on the TSA prohibited list seem mostly like public relations--something to point to so make it seem like the rules have some reasoning behind them. But practically, they are meaningless: the screeners use their individuality, and get some whack-all idea in their head about what they think is safe and come up with interpretations like yours.

The actual TSA screening isn't consistent with its own rules, and it certainly doesn't seem consistent with reality.

For instance, who was the genius who decided that people could take a 3oz container of pressurized cheese? I don't think anyone sells such a thing.

TSA is a farce. Safety-wise probably more people have died in car wrecks while avoiding the hassle of airline travel than the screening has saved.

Submitted by Anonymous on

amandragoran reiterated the rule that "NO knives of any length are allowed". We all understand what the rule says. What we don't understand is WHY. WHY aren't exceptions made to allow innocuous small knives or multi-function knives with the sharp blades removed?By definition, a knife with no blade is not a knife-it's a knife handle. WHY won't TSA acknowledge that it should not prohibit non-lethal objects on its whim? WHY won't TSA simply set a maximum length for blades?And don't tell me the 9/11 box cutters only had 1 1/2" blades-they also had full sized handles that afforded suficient grip to allow them to be used as weapons. The 1 1/2" Swiss army knife would not allow that. Surely the highly trained,excellent TSA screeners could be trained to tell the difference between a weapon and a grooming device-or,maybe not........

Submitted by Dad Mo on

In 2007 I went through screening about 7 times with a nail clipper with a folded file and 1" blade. Never was there a problem or a detailed look see to determine if it was a knife. Then going through IDA for the first time the screener call over a supervisor and conficated it saying it was a knife. They did offer to mail it home for me, $3.00 for a $1.98 clipper. This was stamped metal not a sharpen edge. I'll accept any rule as long as it is enforced consistently. Can I have my clippers back?

Submitted by TheWanderer on

This seems to be quoted from Benjamin Franklin, but correct none the less.

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

So do as I do, stop flying until TSA is removed from the airports.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There was no 'post a comment' link in the gripes and grins section so I'll post here (it involved lighters loosely). I took a trip a while ago and left JIA for Baton Rouge. They allowed me to take my lighter (which had great sentimental attachment) against policy. On my way back they tried to confiscate it. The TSA agent was rude and unwilling to work with me which led to a commotion, which eventually to be emptying the lighter of fuel and being allowed to carry it.

The thing that struck me as very very odd was that the agent took my lighter from my personal affects and offered no solution as to how to get it home. I would like to suggest that an agreement be reached with a shipper (i.e. DHL, UPS or FEDEX) to have their supplies at these terminals so that when ppl are caught in these situations (and they will be no matter how consistent you become) they have an easy method to ship things.

I wouldn't expect TSA to do anything other than having the shipping materials available and offering them as a solution when these situations arise. These shippers are at airports often enough to make it worth their while to schedule pick ups.

Anyway - that was my complaint and suggestion on how to fix. Seems simple enough.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What really tickles me in all this is we live in a country where it has been deemed that we have the right to free speech, and where even "trolling" has been upheld by higher court systems to be protected by the first amendment and yet... in this very post... SOMEONE HAS BEEN DELETED BY THE ADMINISTRATOR!!! Honestly, what could be said on here that would have to be "redacted?" Unless it was a threat from a terrorist... LEAVE IT ALONE! If you want to give people an opportunity to have a "discussion" with the TSA regarding policies and procedures, then do more than simply pay lip service to the idea that you want their input. It looks draconian and heavy-handed to go around deleting posts.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I've been reading all these posts and find it rather sad. We were attacked, now we attack eachother.

Why do you feel the need to fly? You're still flying, so it can't be that painfull an experience.

FLYING is a priveledge..NOT A RIGHT!

If you people would stop being so petty, materialistic and ignorant, we wouldn't be so hated by other countries and cultures.

WHO Cares if you lost your shampoo. You shoulda known the rules. It has been in effect since the morning of 10 AUG 2006. Do you live in a cave? Under a rock? Or are you TOO busy shopping at MACY'S or watching movies, get over yourselves. It's sad to see how we've become as a country.

You wana gripe and whine? How'd you like some cheese to go with that?

OH, and to the "gentleman" who's $1000 gold lighter was confiscated, I'm not convinced. First, because you called the screener "Kind Sir" yea, ok.
And if you have that much money to spend on a ligher, where's your private jet?

Submitted by Anonymous on

All you ever needed to do to bring disposable lighters on a plane is keep them on your person. The metal detector doesn't see them. And if you're taken aside for some reason (or none at all) for a detailed search: "Oh, sorry, I forgot that."

I did this all the time.

Submitted by Patrick on

Lighters? Really? Is the Tobacco lobby THAT powerful? The bottom line is that there is little to no consistency from one airport to the next. I fly about 200k per year, it's rarely the same. And I've found that the smaller airports, like OKC or MCI (Kansas City) are the worst, period.

TSA is provides the illusion of security, nothing more.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm a guy who has worked since I was 15 years old, I've worked at fast food restaurants, I've worked overnight stock, I've been a landscaper, a janitor and worked until I became a computer networking professional in New York and Florida. I was working in NY when the towers fell and watched the second plane hit. I'm recently married, my life is good and I don't want to die by any means, but I feel intense anger as I step through the "inspection" check points. I feel my soul and what makes me American slipping from my body as I walk through a metal detector in my socks. Is everyone so scared that they would completely sell their souls? Is this what we have become? I need to see an alternate form of transportation that is free once again. This kind of stuff is destroying America by ripping the hearts out of men like me. I would rather take my chances to be honest than this Orwellian nightmare. We could put an armed air marshal on each flight to assist ARMED pilots with all the money we waste on this nonsense and human scanning technology. I wish there was an airline with minimal or no government regulation that operated it's own business and did things a little smarter, I would shower them with my dollars, I would donate my dollars to them. In fact, I think they would be so inundated with freedom loving people they would not be able to handle the masses flocking to them. The story is the same wherever you look, government regulation = less security, more loss of freedom, higher prices, slow response, and broken terrified human beings...I mean we know this from watching it happen other places, why doesn't anyone care? Oh yea, that's right...your scared.

Submitted by The Saj on

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

Unlike box cutters?

"LiIon batteries"

Okay, in my carry-on luggage I have the following: I have my 17" laptop, I have a spare battery, I have my DSLR with 2 batteries. Plus I have 4 spare batteries. I also have 8-12 AA batteries for my flash. I have an iPod with a LiIon battery. A PDA phone.

Wow man....dude...look at all the Lithium I am carrying. Obviously, I am a bad guy. No...just a geek!


When I read this new law, I realized I will probably go to jail eventually. Because if the TSA tries to confiscate my equipment which costs quite a bit (ie: $50 for one battery). They're going to have a fight on their hands.

Honestly, I think this new battery law is more likely to turn frustrated U.S. citizens into pissed off aggressors than anything else.


"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."

No, we're not...

We're just smart enough to know that the events of 9-11 happened because of stupid policies. (ie: the policy being to instruct everyone to give in to hijackers). When the policy should be to encourage every able bodied man to rise up at the top of the hour and subdue the hijackers. There is almost never more than 4-6 hijackers. A plain full of people in close quarters can subdue hijackers even if they're armed with AK-47's. If they blow up the plain, it was likely they'd have done so anyways. At least the passengers have prevented greater tragedy. (ie: Were this standard policy, four airplanes full of passengers would have been lost - instead of four full airplanes plus two monumental buildings and all of their inhabitants.

It's similar to the police telling you not to take action. By the time the police arrive, you've either been robbed, your neighbors are now murdered, etc. But the police have arrived and are their to file a police report on your behalf.

And remember, the hijacking of the Japanese airliner. The one that landed safely because everyone rose up and beat the hijackers to death with their cell phones, & PDAs.

That's the thing I never understood. On 9-11 the hijackers used box cutters. Box cutters are rather unimpressive weapons. Especially compared to my 17" Toshiba laptop! Any hand weapon in a close quarters environment when outnumbered by 10 to 1 ratio is fairly useless. Sure a couple of people would have been hurt.

I've had a knife drawn on me, while it made me nervous that I might have to get in an altercation, I was not very threatened or intimidated by it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There are companies that are currently clear of TSA - Pay for a private corporate jet - NO SECURITY at all!! Have fun!!and a nice day

Submitted by Anonymous on

Thanks, doesn't really help the shrinking overtaxed middle class though.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just want consistency and reason; which I realize is probably too muh to ask from TSA. I fly out of Reagan National (DCA), BWI, and Dulles (IAD) with some regularity, to my parents' hometown of SJT (small Texas, 2-gate airport). I rarely have any problems in the DC-area airports; but SJT is a constant nightmare; every passenger gets their bags rifled through; my carry-on was re-xrayed 3 times coming home from xmas and picked apart twice because they were confused by a wooden mortar-and-pestle "it looked like a liquid in the x-ray" was the explanation.


Submitted by Anonymous on

The problem with armed pilots and marshels is that a bullets flying around a plane at 30000 feet arnt a good idea, no matter who fired it. If the pilot breaches the hull with a misfired round its the same as if a terrorist did.

Im was rather surprised to read that small scissors and tools are allowed. As well as nail clippers. Just recently while flying I noticed the bin where they throw everything had several screwdrivers, nail clippers/files, and a few lighters. Then in the store right around the corner inside the security area they were selling nail clippers. If they really are allowed then that needs to be published more obviously, and someone needs to let the workers know.

Submitted by CatFish (Canadi... on

In response to the anonymous post "How about some examples from parts of the world where terrorism is a longstanding threat also have seen and experienced better? "

The United Kingdom for one. I flew out of Heathrow a couple of weeks after the big liquids scare. Although there were a lot of restrictions in place at that time, and some further delays, I found the experience to be extremely professionally handled. The British can seemingly handle these kinds of things without breaking a sweat. They had extra people hired on, and trained well to help you go where you needed to, to help you understand the new restrictions, and to make sure you were in the correct line, so you didn't waste the next 2 hours of your life waiting in the wrong line. The security personnel all seemed to be on the same page. And in subsequent trips through the UK, via various airports, the consistency shown at the security screenings has struck me as top notch. Although the restrictions on what can and cannot be brought through security have changed a few times since the liquids scare, it seems like all the screening and security personnel have stayed in synch with the policies in place, and overall have done an excellent job of communicating these policies to the public.

This is a country that has dealt with, and continues to deal with terrorism. It's almost like it's part of the national character. "Blow up a train? B'ah, that's not going to slow us down. Liquids posing a threat to our airplanes? Ok. Let's just deal with it, and get on with our lives. We've been bombed harder by bigger and badder men than you. We lived through it, and learned from it." From the Luftwaffe through the IRA, the UK has had some significant experience dealing with being bombed. They know to deal with these things.

On a related note, the TSA is a fledgling organisation. They will need time to get things sorted, learn from mistakes, learn from others, etc. I've not had any undue hassles when dealing with the TSA, but I can agree that they need to work on consistency and communication.

Just thought I would share some of my experiences and thoughts with you.

Submitted by Anonymous on

A blogger here said: "FLYING is a priveledge..NOT A RIGHT!"

Really . . . Driving is a privilege (sp) and requires a License. Flying does not require a 'license', so can you explain that comment ?

Oh and excuse us for utilizing this blog for it's intended purpose.

Submitted by Dave X The First on

Back to my February 1, 2008 5:16 PM post:

How do I prevent the TSA from taking things like my not-a-knife? You know, my 2" keychain swiss army knife with the knife part removed? The one with the conformant 1.5" scissors, nailfile, screwdriver, tweezers and toothpick?

Yet another restatement of "no knives of ANY length are allowed to pass the checkpoint" are not responsive.

My question again:

How the heck do I keep my stuff that seems to follow the rules?


Where the heck are the rules that your people are actually following?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Before 9/11 you could hijack a plane with just about anything. The accepted wisdom said that resisting was the best way to end up dead.

Now we know that resisting is the only way to stay alive.

The odds of anybody ever successfully hijacking a plane again with box cutters or knifes must be just about 0.

The only thing that might cause people to hesitate in charging a hijacker is a gun or a bomb.

As such TSA should only ban guns and bombs. Taking people's Swiss Army knifes is irritating to the people and doesn't increase our safety one bit.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What is the TSA's opinion of sealed lead acid 12V batteries, like those used for electric wheelchairs, being taken aboard airplanes?

I don't pay close enough attention to wheelchair-bound passengers to notice if electric wheelchairs are permitted or not. If they are not permitted then the rest of this post is moot and can be deleted/ignored.

Non-wheelchair-bound travelers frequently bring electronic devices to entertain themselves during a long flight, and many of these devices have relatively high power requirements, like laptops. Travelers with electric wheelchairs are permitted to bring abundant battery power with them in the form of a 10 to 25 pound sealed lead acid battery.

My question is: can the TSA forsee a scenario where non-wheelchair-bound travelers can be permitted to bring a 10 pound sealed lead acid battery with them in carry-on? If so, this could allow travelers to power their equipment using a $50 battery and $10 inverter, instead of buying one or more spare $100 laptop batteries.

(Sample scenario: during TSA screening, the traveler presents a sealed lead acid battery wrapped in plastic or enclosed in a one gallon zip-top bag, and also presents a disconnected 12VDC-to-110VAC inverter in a different zip-top bag. While en-route the passenger connects their inverter to their battery, plugs their laptop into the inverter, and powers their laptop (and their neighbor's laptop, etc.) for many hours.)

If not, is a sealed lead acid battery prohibited when carried on a wheelchair but not prohibited when included in carry-on baggage, and why? Is a $10 automotive inverter from Wal Mart also prohibited in carry-on baggage?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I agree and I think even the driving priveldge is bull. I bought the car, I chipped in for the road, I paid the gas, I paid the tolls, etc etc etc. Somehow it's a priveldge. Oh well stick to one rediculous thing at a time.

Submitted by DireWolf on

ahhhh ... I love a website that only works in IE ... but that's a different story.

We travel with audio recording equipment, and many LI batteries. We knew about the battery rule change, packed accordingly, and carried copies of the web pages from both DOT and TSA, *just in case.* Flying out was fine (but weighty). Coming home from Florida was bad. The screener didn't care what TSA's own guidelines were ... "I don't care what's on the website, you'll do it my way." He was so into his powertrip that after making me remove the battery from my bag, remove the battery from its bodyglove (the instructions were to package the batteries so that they couldn't bump anything and strik a spark), he then proceeded to search my bag to the point of rifling thru my wallet! grrrr

Submitted by Britt on

This may be viewed as off topic and deleted but I think it is actually at the heart of the matter.

Privilege Versus Right.

The Government in the United States of America exists to serve me. Remember that line on the Constitution that says that the government is 'for the people'? That means we, the people (sound familiar so far?) are in charge. We elect government officials to represent us, they do stuff, we remove them if they do enough stuff we do not agree with.

So, how does this relate? Well, for the last 50 years or so unelected government officials have been saying more and more stuff is a 'privilege' not a right. Okay, strictly speaking someone could say that if something is not in the Bill of Rights then it is not a right, but on the other hand I challenge any Constitutional Lawyer to tell me that a government that is supposed to be representative of the people's will can grant 'privileges' to the people it is supposed to serve!

Anyone reading this stuff? Or are my comments just deleted?

Submitted by Anonymous on

What I want to know is: What does the TSA "do" with all the stuff they confiscate from us?

I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect a lot of our stuff winds up in the pockets of the screeners....

Submitted by Britt on

Trust and transparency.

Gentlemen, this Blog is worthless. I see my postings almost always are deleted. Therefore for me, this blog is worthless. Note, my postings are nto replied to to let me know why they were deleted, they are merely deleted.

Submitted by Gaki on

There are so many common sense things that could be done to keep us safer in the skies, many of which have already been done (i.e. fortification of flight deck doors, not allowing people to congregate in the front of the plane by the flight deck, etc.) that don't violate anyone's rights or freedoms and at the end of the day make the whole experience in no way unpleasant. There is nothing wrong with a quick bag check to see that no one is bringing manifestly dangerous items on board -- loaded firearms, explosives, that sort of thing. It is absurd to think though that someone who is determined to cause a problem on a flight won't find a way to do it. Back in the good old days (the 70s and 80s) the world was a dangerous place and there were problems on planes. The world is still a dangerous place and despite the security theater of the TSA there are problems on planes. The only real difference is that now we have the government treating everyone as if he or she were a suspected terrorist simply because that person needs to go somewhere. With minimal or minimally invasive screening, you might let something slip by once in a while. With the "intensive" screening that happens now things slip by and you have highly disgruntled and terrorized passengers and citizens -- at the hands of their own government! What's the difference? Either way, life is risky. Either way, the risk of something happening in the air is pretty small. But the difference is now, people are less likely simply to sit in their seats and take it if someone tries something having learned something from 9/11 than they would have before. Stop the madness

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
What I want to know is: What does the TSA "do" with all the stuff they confiscate from us?

I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect a lot of our stuff winds up in the pockets of the screeners....

I really doubt that screeners would risk losing their jobs to take some property that was surrendered. At our airport knives are put in a locked cabinet in the view of the passengers. We have passengers tell us to keep their liquids, lotions, gels that are surrendered everyday, and I tell them we can't and throw them in the trash in their view. Many folks think it's more of a shame that these items are thrown away, rather than someone getting use from them.

TSA Screener

Submitted by Anonymous on

@Anonymous: "What I want to know is: What does the TSA "do" with all the stuff they confiscate from us?"

One word: eBay.

Search for "TSA Lot" and you will see what I mean.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Hello anonymous, who asked about ottnott:

I'm not ottnott, but I flew into Spain about six weeks ago. In 2004, a terrorist group called ETA (who wants Basque independence) blew up terminal four of the Madrid Barajas airport. Flying into that very same airport was nothing compared to flying into Chicago from Detroit. They smiled at me, said "Welcome to Spain," and when I asked if I had to take my laptop out, and they said, "What, do you want to show it off?"

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let me just echo the comments of Gaki on February 9, 2008 1:55 PM


WHy not try an intelligent approach to prevention rather than this sham of an appearance of security that prevents nothing.

Submitted by Charles on

Based on this policy regarding lithium batteries, what is the specific policy for rechargable batteries either installed in or carried as spares for authorized oxygen concentrators? These batteries exceed the size limits shown. Allowing the concentrator without its battery would be useless -- without a spare on a long flight, also useless.

Submitted by Anonymous on

To those of you who say print a copy of the permitted/prohibited items list and take it with to explain why you have a given item. Have you ever read the first paragraph in the brochure? "A TSO may determine that an item not on the prohibited chart is prohibited. The TSO may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous."

Each individual TSO makes his/her own rules. The government's own policy says so.

Submitted by Dave X The First on

@ February 11, 2008 8:49 PM Anonymous said...

To those of you who say print a copy of the permitted/prohibited items list and take it with to explain why you have a given item. Have you ever read the first paragraph in the brochure? "A TSO may determine that an item not on the prohibited chart is prohibited. The TSO may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous."

Each individual TSO makes his/her own rules. The government's own policy says so.


Even if it isn't very satisfying, that is effectively the correct answer: "Each individual TSO makes his/her own rules."

Reading the posted rules is worthless, The explanations of Kip or the rest of the bloggers are also worthless. Hidden in a PDF on the TSA website is the carte blanche that TSA screeners use to justify any interpretation.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dear TSA, this may belong in your inconsistency thread, but yesterday a travel partner of mine got 2 small lithium batteries confiscated by TSA at Houston. The reason was "you are only allowed two lithium batteries". This person was carrying four, so two got confiscated.

This is NOT what the published rules say! You are allowed to take as many lithium batteries as you need, in carry on, as long as they are below a certain amount of lithium. Virtually all normal use batteries fall well within this limit, and so did this persons 4 batteries.

Basically, he got 2 batteries, and thus quite a bit of money, confiscated for no valid reason.

Please circulate some easy to understand rules to your own personnel!

Submitted by Anonymous on

I bought a TransPack lighter case. What sort of lighters can be placed in checked luggage? Some TSOs I asked said any kind. Others said only empty ones. Others still said any type but a torch lighter. If the TSOs don't know, how am I supposed to know???

Submitted by Anonymous on
How do I prevent the TSA from taking things like my not-a-knife? You know, my 2" keychain swiss army knife with the knife part removed? The one with the conformant 1.5" scissors, nailfile, screwdriver, tweezers and toothpick?

Even though the knife was removed and all the other components remained and are allowable, it probably would have been a good idea to ask a member of TSA before passing through the security checkpoint. It never hurts to ask questions.
Submitted by Dave X The First on

@ anonymous:
"Even though the knife was removed and all the other components remained and are allowable, it probably would have been a good idea to ask a member of TSA before passing through the security checkpoint. It never hurts to ask questions."

They confiscated it before they would let me pass through the checkpoint. When I asked here, the people who post as TSOs here responded with the unhelpful "No knives of any length" answer. Where are you supposed to find an authoritative answer? It seems the screeners are laws unto themselves.

It does hurt to ask questions if you get wrong answers, or if you get delayed and extra-screened for doing the asking.

Submitted by Anonymous on
They confiscated it before they would let me pass through the checkpoint. When I asked here, the people who post as TSOs here responded with the unhelpful "No knives of any length" answer. Where are you supposed to find an authoritative answer? It seems the screeners are laws unto themselves.

It does hurt to ask questions if you get wrong answers, or if you get delayed and extra-screened for doing the asking.

By you saying:"They confiscated it before they would let me pass through the checkpoint,"I take it this swiss army knife (san the blade because you removed it) was taken from you before you passed through the walk-through metal detector and before your items passed through the x-ray machine. Correct me if I am wrong?

Yes, no knives of any length are not allowed... but what I don't understand (in your defense) is why you didn't explain you removed the blade and didn't seek out a supervisor to remedy the situation. If you are not satisfied with what a screener tells you because you feel your item is allowable, escalate it to the next level. Seek an out an answer from their supervisor. There, you should receive an authoritative answer.

In addition, I can't speak to why you received additional screening if this situation lead to that.
Submitted by Dave X The First on

In STL, my keys with my bladeless swiss army knife went through the X-ray in a little bowl. They took the keys and said the knife was not allowable. I said it had no knife, that I ground it off, they didn't care, and gave me the choice of taking it back out to the beginning of the line, or forfeiting the trinket and proceeding through. Since arguing, further, resisting, or escalating would require abandoning my wife and 1yo daughter with our 12 tubs of junk for who knows how long, I really had no choice and just complied. I did not receive additional screening, but I feared it.

The same procedure worked fine on the outbound from ORF. Also from PHF through CLT to HOU and back.

One thing that sucks about the "process" is that if you get the wrong answer from the TSA website, this blog, another screener, it costs you your items or significant time when you run into the next screener's inconsistent interpretation.

Kip thinks it is a positive sign of independent thinking. I think it is a sign of a process out of control.

Submitted by Pair-a-docs on

Direwolf, this blog also works in Firefox.

Anonymous, sealed lead acid batteries are only permitted in mobility devices used by persons with disabilities. This is not a TSA rule, it is an airline/FAA rule.

Zippo lighters are permitted as carry-on property, as are Bics and similar. Torch lighters are not.

Some items are prohibited from carry-on or checked baggage because various other agencies (gov't and airlines) have classified them as hazmat. With regard to these items, TSA is following the same rules that the private security companies were required to follow pre-9/11. If you think about it, any pressurized gas container is at risk in an environment in which air pressure changes range from that found at sea level to that found at 45,000'. The cargo hold is not pressurized like the aircraft cabin is, and safety suggests that one would not want random gasses escaping and mixing with each other in a contained area. "Empty" lighters are permitted in checked baggage, and there are small sealed containers available for purchase, for Zippo lighters. Torch lighters are never allowed.

Another anonymous poster listed some very good questions regarding 4" scissors being akin to 2 4" knives, and camera tripods equalling 3 baseball bats. I think every one of us has asked those very same questions, to no avail. We too would like to see some logic applied.

One point I'd like to make. The TSOs you see in your travels are only as good as the management team at their airport. Is their management team supporting them to become better every day? Or is their management team role modeling institutional arrogance? Any team out there is only going to be as good as their management allows or promotes them to be. When you travel, look around for the 'suits." Look around for the "three-stripers." Are they interacting with their TSOs, helping out when it's busy, or are they standing back simply observing and playing "clipboard nazi?" There's where you'll find a lot of your answers to the "whys" regarding inconsistancies, bad attitudes and blatant circumvention of the rules. A team is only as good as its leadership.

Many of us take our jobs seriously, both in terms of providing the best security we can, and in providing the most positive interactions with the passengers that we can. Many of us come to work with a smile on our face, and we go home with that same smile. Just because you run across a TSO who you'd rather slap than look at, don't assume all TSOs are like that.

When you go get in your car to drive somewhere, there are rules you have to follow. Speed limits, stop signs, yield signs, one-way signs, seat belts, turn signals, detours, etc. When you go to get on an airplane, there are rules you have to follow, too. When you submit your property for screening, that's the point when you give consent for the search, and if it's discovered that you've opted to not follow the rules then you are given a series of options. This is much more than the traffic cop will give you if you're pulled over for breaking a traffic rule. We are required to give you options for your prohibited items, essentially the chance for a "do-over." The options may not always be convenient to you, but they are much more than the traffic cop is required to give you, or will.

Personally, I'd prefer it if no blades of any type were allowed. No, I'm not worried a terrorist is going to ever overtake a plane with a blade, again. I'm more concerned about the nut who's gone off his meds and holds the 4 year old little girl hostage and slits her throat before the cabin full of passengers beats him to a bloody pulp. I'd like your trip to be as safe as possible from any kind of incident like that.

But yes... generally I tend to agree with most of you here, there is a drastic lack of common sense and consistency and many of us have been arguing the same things as you are, for a very long time. Perhaps the more we all chime in and the more things become "in their faces" public, the better chance there'll be of getting the cubicle-dwellers out of the rule-making game. Keep up the good work folks!!

Submitted by Charles Platt on

This is all so depressing. TSA has been given a mandate ("Protect the Skies") which is impossible to fulfill, and travelers end up paying for futile gestures mandated from above. Guidelines have to be simple enough for mass application by thousands of screeners; that means the guidelines must be rule-based, arbitrary, and irritating. And so on. The problem traces back to the fallacy that government can protect us all from pathological extremists. Government can do no such thing. But since we have no way to roll back this concept, we end up quibbling about nail clippers and batteries.

Personally I travel with printouts from the TSA web site, defining regulations. This is the only way I know to deal with the absurdities which have been thrust upon us. Also I have taped to each of my lithium batteries a calculation of its lithium content. Will this protect me from an arbitrary and uninformed challenge? Maybe.

One time going through Newark (before the current Ziplock Bag guidelines clarified some issues), I inadvertantly tied up three screening lines when I was challenged over two Chapsticks. I brought out my printed pages. The supervisor and all his employees kept everyone waiting while they all gathered around and spent a good ten minutes reading the contents of the TSA's own web site and arguing about how to interpret the regulations.

Conclusion: They retained one Chapstick and let me keep the other one. Again, this was before the Ziplock rule clarified things, but still, such absurdities are characteristic of an entity that inspires no confidence whatsoever, because there is no way it can do what it has been told to do.

Submitted by Anonymous on

a knife can be made from a broken container of glass (e.g. a bottle or glass from a restaurant).

Shouldn't those be banned or limited in size, in the terminal area?

Submitted by Anonymous on

to the guy posting about taking apart a tripod and using them as 3 clubs for him and his "friends". Yeah so in all fairness, TSA is just gonna have to prohibit tripods as well... you know just cause you're such a funny guy. har har

Submitted by Anonymous on

Let me just echo the comments of Gaki on February 9, 2008 1:55 PM


WHy not try an intelligent approach to prevention rather than this sham of an appearance of security that prevents nothing.


in reply to the above: "prevents nothing"? it prevents plenty, things are confiscated from passengers on a daily basis. stop being so melodramatic.

Submitted by Britt on

To Charles Platt:

I agree with you whole-heartedly!

We, the people, need to take responsibility for ourselves and our safety, not expect the government to provide it for us.

In the Special Forces they say that your mind is your primary weapon. If I am ever so unfortunate as to be aboard a plane hijacked as they were on 9/11 I assure you that my shoes laces become garrotes, my belt a poor man's cestus, a ball point pen a stabbing tool, my keys brass knuckles.

If you doubt the efficacy of these tools in self defense, watch the Bourne movies.

As citizens of these United States it is each and every one of ours obligations to protect and defend our neighbors. This is the beginning of good citizenship.


Submitted by Anonymous on

everyone needs to look at these rules in a different manner. for example your precious swiss army knife. You don't need that on the flight, so why bring it in your carry on. You don't need your baseball bat, tennis rackets, etc, with you on the actual flight so check it in checked baggage! If you know its going to be taken away, don't bring it with you. Plain and simple. If you need a swiss army knife to open a bag of peanuts, you might have a bigger problem in your life, rather than your gripes with TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

from ottnott:

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.


all you talk about is hassle, hassle, and more hassle. You fail to realize the hassle is caused by an inability to follow instructions. Have your boarding pass out a second time, take the crap out of your bag, your ugly shoes must come off. walk through, grab your stuff, and be off. Wow, that is very difficult!!! Thats pretty darn efficient if you ask me. HASSLE for whom? not me, but most definately YOU.

Submitted by Anonymous on

As a passenger I have the following rights:

1. I can break the rules because

I don't agree with them.

2. When I am caught breaking the

rules I can hold the security

lines up for as long as I want.

Then blame TSA for slow security

3. When I am told that I am not

going to be allowed to break

the rules I can verbally attack

them. Make off the wall

assumptions about them, their

education and their ability

to gain respectable occupations.

Then when they stand up

against this verbal assault I can

complain about their customer

service skills and recommend

they go to training for this

obvious problem. Preferably one

that teaches them to bow at my

abusive shoeless feet.

4. as if this was not privilege

enough now I can go onto a blog

that was intended to answer

legitimate concerns and

questions and continue my

abusive rants.

5. I am allowed these rights

because I am better than these

non-human goons’!

6. Then when I am running late

I can complain about how

Strict and useless security


7. When I show up early and

Have time to wait I can

Complain about how

Inadequate the security

Process and officers are.