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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

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

First in response to Meyre's remarks concerning lighters and scissors. Regular lighters are now allowed through checkpoints, torch style lighters are not. Also NO lighters are allowed in checked bags. In regards to scissors, not all scissors are allowed. There are size restrictions on them and they should be blunt tipped scissors, not pointed at the ends.

Secondly concerning the poster commenting on his bags being opened when reaching his destination. At the airport where I am a TSA screener every effort is made to have the owner of a bag return to open it for inspection if necessary. Forcefully opening a bag is only done as a last resort. Obviously I can not comment on operations at other facilities, or if other circumstances were involved.

Concerning confiscated items, absolutely nothing is kept by the officers or staff, everything is disposed of properly. A large amoutn of confiscated liquids, aerosols and gels are actually considered to be haz-mat and subject to special disposal requirements. Officers go to great lengths to offer options which let passnegers keep their items other than surrendering them. The final decision is left to the passenger, although people still say we steal everything. Also at my location the airport has established a program allowing passengers to donate unopened items to a local homeless shelter before entering the checkpoint.

As a screener I am happy to say that we recieve far more positive comments and thank you's from people than complaints. Wish more of them would come here and post their own remarks.

Submitted by Dunstan on

"As a screener I am happy to say that we recieve far more positive comments and thank you's from people than complaints. Wish more of them would come here and post their own remarks."

Sorry, but this blog was started, it seems, to solicit suggestions on how to improve the screening experience. Nice job! is comforting, I realize, but unfortunately a few bad apple spoil the pie for the rest of you. Both the professional TSO's and passengers need to work on reporting the failures. I'm certainly going to do my best to be friendly and watchful the next time I fly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Dunstan, I agree that this blog was started to solicit suggestions for improvements from travelers. Unfortuantely most of the posts I have seen are simply people vneting and complaining, and not offering any real suggestions of their own. Consider that any procedure you could suggest, or item you feel should not be allowed is going to irritate some group of people somewhere who will say that we are violating their civil rights.

Submitted by Dunstan on

Anonymous said...

Dunstan, I agree that this blog was started to solicit suggestions for improvements from travelers. Unfortuantely most of the posts I have seen are simply people vneting and complaining, and not offering any real suggestions of their own. Consider that any procedure you could suggest, or item you feel should not be allowed is going to irritate some group of people somewhere who will say that we are violating their civil rights.

April 3, 2008 6:24 PM"

You have to take the bad with the worse... People in my professional circle get set up, robbed and killed because of what they work with and sell, thus I am very conscious of security. I really don't feel secure when I fly, and I do not trust the system that is in place now.

Submitted by Anonymous on

There have been many suggestions! Among them:

- Show us clear scientific evidence that the procedures adopted work, so we feel better about going through with them.

- Substitute liquid baggie with puffers that detect if the liquids are dangerous.

- Scan shoes only when metal detector or puffer goes off.

- Offer seats for persons who have to take off shoes.

- Do not steal from checked luggage.

- Be nice.

- Explain what you want.

- Post rules clearly.

- Be reasonable.

Submitted by Anonymous on

This site seems completely useless in helping to fix any of the problems that are being voiced by the public. It's a great place to blow off some steam and commiserate with other passengers. And it feels like the TSO's have no interest in understanding the details of what we're saying, they're so busy trying to defend themselves. Like when a security hole is pointed out, the response was: Secondly concerning the poster commenting on his bags being opened when reaching his destination. At the airport where I am a TSA screener every effort is made to have the owner of a bag return to open it for inspection if necessary. Forcefully opening a bag is only done as a last resort. Obviously I can not comment on operations at other facilities, or if other circumstances were involved.
So the whole point that there is a breach of security was completely ignored because he was in defense mode - I'm doing my job right and have no idea what others are doing. The point is! If my bag is checked by TSA and I witness that it is good to go, why should there be any reason for it to be opened again? If there is a problem later on down the line, then the TSO who did the initial check is not doing their job properly. If the initial check was correct, then there is something else going on here.

Submitted by Anonymous on

While I can not comment on the personell at other facilities, myself and the screeners are very nice and considerate to the passengers that come thorugh every day. Often engaging in small talk and answering questions for people as they come through as well as providing extra assistance for those neeidng any. But please understand that at times when the line is long and the checkpoint is busy we need to get everyone screeened as quickly and efficently as possible, while still maintaining the same screening procedures. At times like this we are not able to be quite as polite and social as we would like to be.

There is a great deal of signage posted at checkpoints and throughout airports indicating what should be done to help speed up screening, but a great many people simply ignore them. If you have questions please ask an officer or airline employee before entering the line for screening, we would be more than happy to answer them for you and this would make everything easier from both sides involved.

The facilites and furniture provided are often under the controll of the airport, not the TSA. We are only allotted a small area for screening and make the best use of that space as we are able. Chairs and benches are provided at checkpoints by TSA, however these need to be maintained within the area TSA actually controlls.

Unfortunately I can't really comment about stealing from luggage, only to say that this is taken very seriously by TSA. It only takes a few bad officers to give the entire agency a bad image.

Consider that Richard Reid's shoes did not alarm the metal detectors. The puffers are a great tool and I wish they were in place at my location, unfortunately the cost of installing them at every checkpoint in each of the 400 plus airports in the US makes that prospect unlikely. The same can be siad for substituting puffers or other devices in place of the baggies.

We are as reasonable as we can be, Please understand that there are very strict procedures which we are required to follow and are not allowed to deviate from. Whether we agree with them or not makes no difference. The screeners are the workforce charged with enforcing them, like any other orginazation it is the higher management which actually writes them.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The poster failed to mention some details regarding his posting about his bag being opened. What kind of bag and how large was it? What was his destination and point of origin? Was he entering or leaving the country where customs may be involved? Did you take a direct flight or have connections? Did you change flights or airlines while enroute to your destination? Was a notification of bag inspection found inside, or any other indication that TSA had opened the bag? It is difficult to give any meaningfull answers when you don't have all the details.

If you went through a larger airport and had to go from one terminal to another, your bag could have been rescreened as part of that process.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was just reading this, and thinking about how idiotic airport security has become. When was eight I got to go on a plane. This was before 2001, obviously. That was back when aiport workers realized that we, the flyers, were CUSTOMERS and not convicted felons. Oh, for a time machine to go back and relive those carefree days...Even after 9/11 almost all the new rules are useless. Like others have said before me, the only rules needed are KEEP THE PILOT DOOR CLOSED AND FIGHT BACK IF SOMEONE TRIES TO HIJACK THE PLANE! Also, what is the point of having a list of what you can and can't bring if the TSA workers are just going to make up their own rules?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Regarding torch lighters, I'd like to point out that many of those are made of metal, not cheap plastic like the 'bic' style which is currently allowed in checked baggage inside a god awful, huge container that seems designed only to draw attention to itself and take up vast amounts of space for foam cushioning. These things are like boat fenders, they're that huge. I could use that same space for a couple more pairs of pants, my humidor, or even a 3 piece suit because that's how much space it takes up. What's the point? If it's supposed to prevent a cheap plastic lighter from breaking, then ban the cheap plastic lighters! You've banned everything else! Torch lighters and Zippos and other quality, metal lighters can handle being knocked around inside pockets without needing a special high-vis container so I think checking them in the terminal in a small, lighter-sized, leakproof container or plastic ziploc bag should work as well. It's not as though I'm going to escape my seat to go to the hold so I can light my cigar, which is banned during a flight anyways.

It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever that a cheap, breakable lighter costing less than $2 is allowed in a gigantic DOT container (usually running about $30) and a quality, metal, not-easily-broken lighter of any kind is disallowed, container or not, and not even in checked bags. I can check my gun, my ammunition, my cigars and my whiskey (thus completing the ATF trifecta), but not that collectable, $40, safety-enabled lighter. FedEx had no problem transporting it in a plastic baggy with some foam peanuts and a free box they gave me. They're probably worse on package handling than anyone at the airport. Funny how that works!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Are "Zippo" style lighhters allowed through the security checkpoint and into the sterile area of the airport?
Thanks,

Submitted by Ashley on

As lithium batteries are the only factor which can cause a great harm. I am not focusing terrorists but cellphones and laptops have been known to catch on fire. Even lighters are banned. There are many rules which distract the TSA from finding the things they need to look for.
I think that TSA and the government merely wants give tension to us about terrorists and by doing such unwanted rules they are distracted from their real goal. I don't know why they are doing. Is there any personal prejudice is there ? or anyother but this is not fair.

Submitted by NoClu on

No Zippo lighters allowed. They use liquid fuel. Also, no torch style butane lighters. Not sure why that is, perhaps there's a fear that they are too hot.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just called TSA, and they said I can carry on my Zippo lighter. I just can not carry on a torch lighter.

Submitted by Anonymous on

So I can bring a lighter on board but snow globes are still prohibited?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Of course, the whole system and the way it is implemented is abused. I travelled with a unique lighter which was a gift from Europe. Got through 4 security gates, no problem. One guard saw it, his eyes literally lit up. He told me it would have to be confiscated. The reason? It had 2 flames instead of one. Did I argue? How could I, when the *least* that would happen is being delayed long enough to miss a connecting flight. They KNOW people won't argue because they have the power to do this. The only word I can use to describe him is one that severely doubts his parentage. Thanks, America.

Submitted by T P on

It's not about consistency. It's about annoying you enough so that you feel safe but not so much that you can't reach your destination in most cases. It's not about actually accomplishing safety, which is mostly based on the idea that any small weapons won't be enough to overcome the people on the plane. Consistency is too much trouble.

Submitted by Brian on

I for one don't really care what is and isn't allowed as long as its consistent. I think for safety reasons, whatever is disallowed is for a reason and that's a good thing. And I'm all about heightened security even if it does take a little longer to get through the airports.

The only problem I do have is when the rules are not consistent, like one poster mentioned above about the variances in the length of blades that are allowed. I say ban all the blades, that would make it safe and fair.

Submitted by Gary on

I've not seen anything about the metal nail files that so many women carry. What category are those in and is there a length restriction on them if they are illegal?

Submitted by Diane Best on

This news sounds encouraging but is confusing as well. As a travel writer, I have advised my readers to pack all sharp objects away in their checked luggage.

I find there is inconsistent practice in different airports, where some do allow nail clippers, lighters and scissors, etc. and some confiscate without discussion.

Due to these inconsistencies, I have advised my readers to play it safe and pack their sharp items in their checked baggage.

At times, I have forgotten to pack away in my checked luggage such items as scissors, fancy lighter from Paris, and wine corkscrew (which I always bring on my travels) and they have been taken from me at various airports. At one airport, the security officer even questioned my hair curling iron!

If airport security truly has become more objective, I would like to update my readers (www.great-vacations-travel-guide.com/airport-security.html), but until there is more consistent information available, I hesitate to do so.

Submitted by Anonymous on

tweezers?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I honestly believe there is NO CONSENSUS on ZIPPO lighter. I have a ZIPPO that has been in my family for 3 generations. I had given a similar one to a business partner, which was confiscated at OIA, which then I was able to recover, btw not a fun experience. Non the less I wish there was a a sign & or list which employees & passengers can check before hand. I do appreciate the job that TSA has done but I hope there will be a nation wide list,sign which is posted & visible. My apologies if there is or has been. Harry.

Submitted by The Survival Blogger on

From one point of view, I can understand that any kind of blade should be forbidden on planes to prevent any danger for passenger. However, I don't really see what could be the danger with a nail clipper... And what about lighters? Don't you have ways to detect if it has been altered to hide some kind of explosive into the lighter?

Submitted by Jason Smith on

Thanks for the updates on this - especially about the lithium batteries as a lot of photographers don't like to check their camera for fear that it might be damaged or worse if we put them into our checked baggage. One question I have is, what about tripods that have the removable feet with small spikes underneath?

Submitted by CanonBestCameraBlog on

Thanks so much for clarifying that the FAA released the battery rule

Submitted by Albart Rob on

Though blade and scissors are small than knife but often these instruments are being more useful.It should be safety for blade and for small scissors.

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