Liquids, Part 1 (Commenting Disabled)
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Last year, I passed by a TSA agent on the way to security screening at the Reno airport, who asked me if I had any liquids to inspect. I was anxious about getting to LA on time and having eye surgery the following day, and absent-mindedly replied I did not have anything to inspect, even though I had packed several 3 ounce containers tightly in a quart baggie the night before. It was then that it dawned on me how absolutely useless this procedure is to weed out potential terrorists. It doesn't matter that the bottles in my backpack were x-rayed as they went along the conveyor belt, because they weren't the close inspection they were supposed to get.
If I have an explosive liquid, will the ziploc bag prevent it from doing harm?, are ziplog bags used by bomb squads to "detonate safely" bombs?
a ziploc bag, is just that, a plastic bag, it's not a box of steel, it's just plastic... I've had small bottles of listerine burst and make the ziploc bag drip, so, how can one contain an explosion?
TSA doesn't listen to passengers. And even though they went through the effort to create an entire blog, TSA certainly won't start listening now. This website is not about getting input from the public, it is about "explaining" TSA to the public, as if the public were uninformed children.
Well, we are not uninformed children. Scientifically speaking, there are no two chemicals you could mix on a plane in any amount of time without drawing attention to yourself due to the vapors that get emitted during the distillation.
The current TSA policy on liquids is based on fear of SCIENCE FICTION.
One simple question. We are limited to 3 ounce size liquid containers. What would keep a terrorist from carrying several 3 oz. containers of the substances you are afraid of and combining them?
I guess a second question would be, if we have a 4 oz. container that is half full, why is it tossed?
Dear TSA, do you think you are doing your job by pretending that you are enabling a secure and safe environment? Becasue that is what you are doing PRETENDING to avoid media & political attention if you did not.
How is that US planes being board in another countries do not go to the "stupid" scrutiny as in US airports?
And do I feel safer in US airport? NO! I feel more annoyed. And I travel plenty, that I prefer the danger of uncertainty to the fake sense of security that boiled anytime that I see and hear the childish demands of airport security.
This is how inane the liquids policy is:
Over Christmas I flew to Jackson Hole, WY for skiing. I grabbed a bottle of water that had been sitting in the rental car throughout my vacation, so it was frozen solid, and took this with me when I was departing JH on my way back home. I was curious what would happen when I took it through security. Naturally the screener did not allow it, even though it was not a liquid. When I questioned this, the screener said that "it was frozen water." I thought to myself that all solids are "frozen" liquids. I did not push the issue but this just reinforced how pointless and illogical these liquid rules are. If I can get any other solid through that is "frozen" liquid, why can't I get ice through which is also a frozen liquid?
The practice to insert your hands on our clothing and belongings make me feel raped and powerless in the country that I love and respect.
Mr Security big shot, how would you feel that I do insert my hands on your wife's cloth and lingerie?
We are moving to a society that risks becoming a state police such as Cuba and the the old Soviet Union.
No other country, not even China dos what we do here.
We can do better!
Why I should have to throw away my expensive Clinique face soap and lotion because it is too big??????
We have all seen or experienced that little tube of mascara or the tiny bottle of lotion being confiscated at the TSA checkpoint. This angers many travelers however there is a solution that may alleviate some of the frustration. Why not have the TSA sell the appropriate sized zip lock bag near the checkpoint area? This would certainly be a win-win situation as the traveler would be allowed to keep his belongings and the TSA could charge $1 per bag which retails for around 8 cents each thereby increasing revenues for TSA which ultimately saves the taxpayers money.
Hello TSA! I have a question about liquids! It is a low priority question, please answer the other, more important questions first. My question is, what do you do with confiscated liquids? Do they go to a lab at the end of the day where it is determined whether or not they contain explosives? How are they eventually disposed of? Are they incinerated?
If you want to treat liquids seized at a checkpoint as hazardous materials, you people need to actually start doing so - dispose of each and every item as a separate instance of HAZMAT, with all the hassle and expense that entails.
Contrariwise, if you concede that items like hair gel, toothpaste, and bottles of Dasani (the less- expensive ones from OUTSIDE the checkpoint, that is!) are *NOT* HAZMAT - well, then, there is absolutely no reason for flyers to be prohibited from taking them onboard, now, is there?
Your failure to provide proper screening capabilities and disposal methods does not in any way justify your continued abuse of paying customers and theft of their property.
buckles out, I feel your pain. It's hard enough to travel with a baby or a toddler, but the security checkpoint makes it a total nightmare. Last Thanksgiving my husband, our then 13-month old daughter and I traveled from Seattle to JFK. I knew I'd get some grief about formula so I bought a 6-pack of ready-made cans. Not only did TSA make me take everything resembling a liquid or a gel out of the diaper bag, I had to take out every single can from my carry on as I was trying to get my shoes and coat off, my daughter's shoes and coat as my husband was trying to get her out of her stroller (as she's screaming her lungs out and people are starting to get annoyed with us) while he's trying to get HIS shoes and coat off as well as emptying his pockets. NOTE TO TSA - HUMANS ONLY HAVE 2 ARMS. We finally get everything (including the stroller) through the x-ray machine, then we had to gather everything up and try to get out of the next passenger's way - not as easy as it sounds considering all the crap we had to put back in our bags! I know, some people wonder why we didn't check most of this stuff. Well, you must not have kids. You need the stroller to get through the airport without losing all feeling in your arms, and the baby stuff is, well, non-negotiable. By the time we got to our gate we were completely frazzled and all I really wanted to do was go home. There has GOT to be a better way!
Ok, so I've read everything posted here and basically everyone is saying the same thing. I too have had things taken from me at the checkpoint and while I do my best to make sure I don't have any liquids in a container marked above 3 oz. it is easy to forget especially if you have a small child and forget their 4 oz tube of sunblock was in your diaper bag. We can complain all we want on this site but I really think it is going to do little good. We need lobbyists and news reporters to put pressure on our government that the liquid rule is ridiculuous needs to be dropped. (And back it up with evididence) Or how about someone representing the environment and the tons of toiletries that are dumped into our landfills each year. And by the way, flip flops and other shoes that didn't have a metal plate in them didn't used to have to be removed when the whole "shoe ban" took place. I used to wear flip flops everywhere so I wouldn't have to take my shoes off and then one day TSA decided those weren't acceptable-but every airport had different policies.
Now if I have a full bladder before I pass the lines and board a plane, am I breaking the policy. My liquid is not clear, clean nor is sealed.
Or do I need to empty my bladder before I pass the lines and fill it up again in the overpriced airport stores.
What could you hide in your flip flops? A bomb. That's why we ask you to take them off so we can get a better look.
here is a prime example of why the TSA is HATED.
what we see in this post is a blatant smug retort full of complete and utter ignorance. We see a disrespect for a different point of view, and we see someone believing they are better than those that are under their authority.
if the TSA wants to improve it's image, it will
1. loose all rules that are based out of ignorance and baseless fear such as the liquid ban, nail clipper ban, etc etc etc
2. 3 strikes and you're fired rule for rude out of control employees.
There is no quicker way to make yourself hated than to act with a smug superior attitude while enforcing rules based on little to no fact.
Holding your power over people and using the fact that you have power as an excuse to be a horrible human being is disgraceful.
Before my first trip after the new "liquid policy" was put into place, I was told by co-workers to put my liquids of 3 ounces or less in "ziplocs." So I packed the bottles loosely into three ziplocs, thinking it would be easier for the TSA to check. I got to my destination with no problem, but on the last leg of my trip home, the TSA agent rudely informed me that I was allowed only ONE ziploc, so I said, "Okay, I'll put them into one." Of course I wasn't allowed to touch my own belongings - a HUGE sin in the airport - so I and a huge line of people waiting behind me had to wait while the government agent jammed the little bottles into one ziploc, thereby making us all much safer. Nice to see a government agent saving the day by eliminating those two extra dangerous bags. While molesting my belongings, the government agent also commented, "You use all this stuff?" No, I only take it with me to ruin your day.
I would like to know the exact viscosity point that the TSA defines as liquids, having had both lip balm and a gluestick stripped from my person (and not without a public dressing down/semi-abusive lecture about why I did not clear-plastic-baggy my chapstick)
On a recent trip I stood in line behind an elderly lady being verbally abused following having two bottles of very expensive perfume taken from her. Both of these were clearly purchased 60 feet away in the duty free shop. The treatment of this woman left her reduced to tears, and was absolutely shameful.
When I asked to speak to someone about what I had witnessed, the security personnel became hostile, and made it clear that they would not make it possible to talk to anyone, nor could I get their names.
Additionally, on the same trip I traveled with at least a dozen liquid filled pens, which apparently don't count, not beong toiletries. Which is why next time I need to smuggle on board my highly deadly tree frog poison dart ampules, I will be doing so via Bic pen.
I have a question that is somewhat of a corollary to the posts michael and feef made earlier:
If it is "safe" for people to have 3 ounces of liquid in a single container, why doesn't the TSA make 3-ounce containers (in addition to plastic bags) available to people who would otherwise unnecessarily have liquids confiscated? If 3 ounces of liquid is "safe" only so long as it is in a container that can hold no more than 3 ounces, then this would appear to be an acceptable compromise. The people with either too much liquid or too large of a container could retain as much liquid as they can salvage, while the TSA representative could proceed to wave the newly-compliant traveler on through the screening line.
While the cost would certainly be an issue, you could charge a fee for the items as feef suggested (hopefully at the TSA's cost or less, though). While I do not necessarily agree that it is ethically right for the TSA to make travelers pay for these items rather than giving them away, such an arrangement could probably increase the feasibility of this trouble-saving project.
If properly executed, this plan could do something to shore up the tremendous outburst of negative criticism that arose as a result of the liquids policy being instituted. At the very least, it would minimize the inconvenience and financial loss inflicted on travelers by the TSA screenings.
It's also (marginally) good for the environment! Instead of us being required to purchase a new bottle of expensive hand lotion/hair product/beverage, we could continue to use whatever we poured into the 3oz bottle instead, saving at least some small amount of product/packaging material.
Let me get this straight...
ang122 replies four times and neglects to address the absolute fact that confiscated liquids are casually tossed into a giant trash bin sitting right next to where travelers pass (a nice choke point at that) and the TSA employees work (I would imagine) 8+ hours a day. Now I don't know about anyone else, but if I even suspected something might be dangerous (whether explosive, toxic, corrosive, etc.) I would not want it sitting next to my while I work. I would want it to be treated like a dangerous device. In the case of a potential explosive that means: evacuate the area, call the bomb squad to dispose of it and re-open the area only after it has been deemed safe. I mean I'm sure that's what they would do if someone tried to bring a couple sticks of TNT or a block of Semtex through. The again, this is the TSA we are talking about, they would probably just throw it in the plastic garbage bin with the toothpaste, shampoo and other potential explosives.
This is such an idiotic policy. Screening at many American airports is inept and the liquid ban inconveniences a lot of frequent fliers. It's also causing people to waste a lot of money on travel-sized items. Corporations are absolutely gouging people on travel-sized shampoo, saline solution, hair gel, etc. So not only is this inconvenient, it makes traveling more expensive through indirect costs.
I would also like to back pb's earlier post about the TSA asking us to "Please keep in mind that these rules were developed after extensive research and understanding of current threats."
Has the result of this extensive research been made public? I recognize that it is entirely possible that the research is readily available and I haven't done due diligence in actually finding it, but literally ALL of the research I have seen has shown the liquids ban to be a completely ineffective countermeasure.
Granted, there could be some language trickery in that the statement above does not necessarily imply that the rules were developed as (A DIRECT RESULT) of the exhaustive research or that the rules were (AN EFFECTIVE COUNTERMEASURE AGAINST TOP EXPERT'S) understanding of current threats. Technically, it only says that (someone) did extensive research (on some topic) and gained an understanding of current threats (to something)...and then proceeded to make a set of rules.
I would definitely rest easier when traveling if I gained some insight as to what kind of information was available to the people who made this set of rules...or even who the people that made the rules WERE, for that matter.
Perhaps the root of the problem here is that people aren't seeing any actual results because the TSA is held to little public level of accountability. Why not implement a networked display at every screening point displaying the number of gallons of liquids destroyed, the approximate cost (out of travelers' pockets) of these liquids, and the number of plausible terrorist actions thwarted as a direct result of the liquids policy. We may as well not bother trying to quantify the damage caused to the environment by the destruction of the liquids and their packaging. I think the information above would serve its purpose without further augmentation.
i just don't get it. you can bring many 3oz bottles but not one 16oz bottle? what is to stop a terrorist from filling all those little bottles with explosives and just combining on board?
it is a ridiculous and inane policy.
The ban on liquids is based on a physical impossibility (slowly mixing two oxidizers into a powerful explosive without causing a violent reaction or having anyone on the airplane notice while you set up a pipet and ice bath).
And these dangerous oxidizers, which become deadly crowd-killing explosives when mixed, are dumped into a pile right next to slowly moving crowds. Fascinating.
And in a fascinating coincidence, water -- which could be carried into a terminal for for free -- now costs upwards of $5 to purchase in a terminal.
I hope nobody tells the TSA that the human body is at least two-thirds liquids.
oops. Wonder if we'll all have to be freeze-dried before we get on a plane now?
If liquids are confiscated because they are potentially explosive when mixed (otherwise, why would they be confiscated?), then could somebody please explain the logic of throwing these suspected explosives together in a plastic bin surrounded by innocent civilians?
As far as I'm concerned, until our government can be bothered securing our borders (FBI and CIA report that potential terrorists cross in large numbers - especially our southern border), they have no business limiting me to 3 oz (or any other arbitary amount) of liquid on a flight.
I flew from Mexico to Baltimore recently. I purchased 5 bottles of very expensive tequila in Mexico - at the AIRPORT. The bottles were sealed in a bag. When I arrived home and opened my suitcase guess what... they opened the most expensive bottle and broke the cork off. It cant be purchased in america. Why would they open a sealed bag? This administration of Bush is making the whole terrorism thing up. Good work TSA.
Why is it that I cannot bring liquids past security? There are plenty of liquids in the shops in the terminal. There are O2 tanks inside the aircraft-in unsecured compartments fully accessable to pasengers! There is also thousands of pounds of jet fuel inside the plane iteself. Additionally any civil aviation pilot can simply drop off whatever contraband he wishes inside the airport to be picked up by a bagage handelers. Security is a joke and only ment to appease not solve any problems. How many people have blown up a plane with their shoes? The answer is zero...yet we still take off our shoes! We don't adequately screen private aviation. Why? Because it's too expensive and we are not really concerened about security only the preception of security.
I have to agree it does not make sense that these liquids are tossed directly into garbage bins placed right near staff and crowded lines people. If one of those items that is thrown in is an explosive that could set it off! That alone tells me that the policy has nothing to do with safety.
What would make sense would be to use a particulate scanner (the puffers) or use the chemical analyzers that they use on random screenings of luggage to check for explosives or other dangerous items.
The whole liquid rule is a total farce - Like the people that our out to get us are too stupid to have multiple people sneak "the bad stuff" through security 3.3 oz per person with multiple people and combine it on the other side.
It is a total farce, and nothing more than bad community theater just to make us sheep feel good about travel.
The only way to make airline security safe is to have no carry on bags, but try and do that one...
I see lots of posts of people that had to throw away their liquids that were clearly less than 3oz but marked as more than 3oz (when full). They'll harrass you no matter what the quantity is. On the way to a flight, I kept getting harrassed about my cologne bottle. I had to explain 3 times that it's a 1.7oz bottle (it's printed on the bottom of the bottle) and it was half-full at the time. One of the TSA agents that were harrassing me that day said the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. He said that some companies pack more cologne into their bottles than the printed amount. Um...yeah...I'm sure some cologne companies like to sacrifice profit and secretly give more cologne for the money.
I'm a liar? No, I really did see it, what would I have to gain from lying? Kind of harsh words. Glad you believe in the work you do, Mr. DHS physicist. We'll try to get that video declassified and get it posted so you can eat crow.
i recently flew, uncontested, through JFK with a 24 ounce jar of honey in my carry-on baggage. my expectation was to be hassled & forced to give it up. no big deal really, i just wanted to bring it home with me. i felt confident that the peanut butter in my bag would be close enough to solid that it didn't matter, but honey is pretty much a liquid/gel. in fact, according to wikipedia 'Honey is a sweet and viscous fluid produced by honey bees. . .'
my question is 'does the TSA have an offical stance as to whether or not honey & peanut butter are contraband items'?
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if the cosmetics industry is putting pressure on TSA and the administration to keep the liquids ban in place. The market for travel size products boomed while the overall cosmetics market remained steady. And I'm sure the cosmetics industry made capital investments to increase production of travel sizes. Can you say windfall profits?
Yeah... I think we all see the fault in the liquids thing. Terrorists don't act alone. If 10 guys, each went through security with their zip lock bags full of 3 oz bottles of undetectable god knows what... it's no different than if ONE person strolled through security with a gallon of the same crap.
I don't understand the quart Zip-loc bags. On a recient flight, security handed my wife a bag and instructed her to put a 2 oz. bottle of hand lotion in it. It didn't go over too weel when I asked where I could get some of those explosion proof bags.
I was flying out of El Paso 2 days after Christmas. I was told by 3 very interested women that 2 of my small (6 oz) see-through lotion bottles would have to be confiscated (they were brand new Victoria Secret lotions, which I am sure they wouldn't mind keeping). I was outraged because my sister had given me these for Christmas! What outraged me even more that is that as a smoker, I had no problems getting 2 lighters through in my backpack. Bottom line, TSA security is NOT effective and randomly decide to confiscate items if they see something they like. I think the liquids rule is absolutely ridiculous. Lets think a little harder here folks.
There's another problem with the liquids ban that few people seem to have commented on; it makes it easier to smuggle dangerous things onto planes. If you get the screeners to start searching for something, they're going to put less of their finite concentration on searching for something else. Since they are bound to encounter loads of liquids every day, they'll be seen to be doing better job if they concentrate on finding loads of liquid, instead of searching for a gun that almost certainly isn't there. The liquid ban reduces the effort spent looking for guns, and so makes them easier to smuggle on.
If there is one thing TSA could do to reassure the American people that the TSA has a clue about security is get rid of the liquids ban.
To the average guy on the street, the TSA is trying to protect us from a MacGyver that could create a bomb by mixing chemicals in the bathroom. But MacGyver is a TV show, not real life.
Please answer the question!
"So I would like to put this same question to Mr. Hawley again, this time from one blogger to another. Precisely what is to prevent multiple bomb juice-packing terrorists from combining their individually packed bomb juices into a single bomb? Can you enlighten us?"
From this web page:
I look forward to your reply.
(I would be seriously surprised if this post makes it past your censorship!)
What's with having a limit on liquids at all?
Surely having a liquid allowance is easily side-stepped by simply having two 'terrorists' on the same plane..
If they put together their liquid allowance they get double..
So maybe your going to say it makes it more difficult for 'them.. well guess what.. it makes it entirely more difficult for 'us' too!
Has there been even one liquid-bomb discovered since this rule? I don't think so.
I've noticed how 'TSA Blogger' answers questions with a very defensive slant. Why not provide us with good info, and tell us why we have to go an hour or two (depending upon where you fly out of and what time of day) without a drink. If we can't being a bottle of water/soda with us through security, there is no point to bringing one to the airport, thus making us wait until after we get through security to get a drink. Most airports that I fly to/from on a regular basis have around an hour line to get through TSA's 'security', plus however long it takes to get through check in. If they are going to deny us a basic human right (water), then they should at least provide everyone who goes through security with a $2 off coupon so we don't get jacked on a bottle of water.
Since when is a state of matter an indication of a substance's explosive properties? What kind of farce "science" was this asinine prohibition based on? Could someone who supports this ban post a link (or even a title/date) of a peer reviewed paper that describes the risk that a liquid poses compared to a solid or gaseous substance?
I think TSA messed up when they started allowing ANY liquids back through. When there was a total ban, planes boarded really fast, there was tons of overhead space. It was much easier when there was a total ban - no squishy room there. Here's a helpful hint for those complaining about the cost of bottled water in airports - you can carry an EMPTY sports water bottle through the checkpoint and fill it up from a fountain once you're past security.
How many terrorists has this agency caught in airports in the act of executing their terroristic plans ? By this I mean actual terrorists who walked up to the security stations with their delivery devices with them and, further, how many has it caught simply lurking around airports waiting for an opportunity to execute their designs ?
I do mean this agency, with its screening procedures in airports not any other agency doing anything else.
Second, on what factual basis was the liquid ban implemented in the first place ? Based on what I learned about the UK episode that first prompted it, I would like to hear why this was continued in place once that episode was fully explained and understood.
A blogger over at Ars Technica posted this question to you (TSA). In case you don't read Ars on a regular basis, I thought I would post the question here.
"My experience in airport security line conversations over the years is that everyone who takes a moment to turn three or four neurons' worth of attention to the much-hated liquids policy comes to exactly the same conclusion: if it takes, say, 20 ounces of bomb juice to blow up an airplane, then you can just send two terrorists with 10 ounces of bomb juice each on board, and they can combine their bomb juice to make a 20-ounce bomb. So why the seemingly idiotic limits on the amount of liquids in my carry-on bag? And why, if I'm in the security line with a bottle of water or a cup of coffee, can't I just drink some of it to demonstrate that it is not, in fact, bomb juice?"
Hi guys- great questions and comments about liquids and gels especially about why we ask you to keep your liquids and gels in 3.4 oz or less. So, the big question is why the heck 3.4 oz? Well we have friends overseas who calculate everything via the metric system. 3.4 oz= 100 ml. So our systems are in synch (no, not the boy band) we now allow 3.4 oz. Next question is why do you have to have all that in separate containers? We employ McGyver-like bomb experts who, through their knowledge of liquid explosives and what it takes to mix all of that together, let us know that by separating liquids in small quanities it would be next to impossible to be successful in a liquid explosive attack.
TSA Blog Team Member
Am I correct in saying that the entire liquid ban was a direct response to the alleged terrorists in the UK who allegedly were trying to sneak liquid explosives on to a plane to allegedly blow it up? I repeatedly use the word 'allegedly' as the people involved were never charged with anything, there was no proof/evidence to substantiate the allegations. The case was dropped very quietly yet was used to validate the TSA insanity. How has nobody noticed this glaring abuse of power? We are being robbed of our hard earned goods and products and for what? Based on what? No case ever went to trial, no person was convicted... there were no explosive liquids... from my perspective we have been lied to about the justification.
I traveled from Ireland to the US last year. I bought a bottle of whiskey at Shannon airport and was allowed to bring it on a carry on, we had to change flights at NY and the TSA people took my very expensive alcohol and threw it out in front of my eyes. Why couldn't they have told me I should have checked it back in Shannon - there were American TSA staff there and they waved me on through. Incredable waste of my time, their time, my hard earned cash and only contributed to my already vbery low opinion of how the whole 'security' farce is being mishandled.
I don't fly anymore. Its not because I am sacred of being blown up or anything like that. Its directly due to TSA and the negative arrogant attitudes I have encountered in American airports time and again.
This is one more case of civil liberties being stolen and forced away from us a littel bit at a time.
I would be happier to just do away with all this 'security' and just take my chances. If someone wanted to do in a plane they would be able to do it. To assume (and we all know how accurate assumptions can be) that terrorists would be dumb enough to actually try and sneak a liquid based explosive on to a plane with all the restrictions in place is so childish and ill thought out it boggles the mind. Ehm, hello? it is transparently obious they would be trying something far different, something that the TSA drones wouldn't be wasting innocent passengers time about... I could go on and on but this post would sink to new levels of annoyance at the utter waste of cost, time and effort employed in American airports by TSA staff
The USA leads by example with their security policies for good or worse. I travel internationally for my job and on a recent return flight from Montego Bay, Jamaica their security seized an unopen soda that I planned on having during my 2 hour wait for departure! Rather than disposing it in the refuse bin, the guard had me leave on her table, I guess to have for herself. Makes me wonder how often this happens here?