USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

The Path Forward on Liquids

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Friday, October 24, 2008
liquids

When it comes to liquids, everybody involved with checkpoint operations -- passengers, airlines, airports, and TSA employees -- agrees that there has to be a better way. Here’s my take on the path forward.

For this discussion, I am using “liquids” as short-hand for liquids, aerosols, and gels and other novel types of explosives.

Intelligence shows that terrorists innovate in explosives formulas as well as the way they would bring them onboard an aircraft. That won’t change any time soon. If liquid restrictions are eased eventually it will be because of improved process and technology, not diminished threat.

Technology

TSA uses several technologies that are effective against liquid and other novel explosives.

Standard X-Ray is deployed everywhere and can effectively identify the presence of liquids and their containers. It is not reliable in differentiating all threat liquids from non-threat liquids. It is effective in the 3-1-1 environment by identifying whether there are liquids hidden in a bag – thus it is useful as a compliance tool.

Advanced Technology “AT” X-Ray is the next generation of X-ray equipment that has technology to examine the dimensions and density of objects within a carry-on bag. 500-600 (out of a total of about 2,000 lanes) will be deployed by the end of 2008. TSA will come close to doubling that number in 2009. AT X-Ray has two major advantages over standard X-Ray:

1) Better image resolution from the hardware side – it uses multiple view points; and

2) Smarter software. The image resolution benefit is immediate; the software will be improved over time.

More than 6,500 Trace Detection “ETD” units are deployed at both checkpoints and checked baggage areas to detect minute particles of explosives residue through the collection of trace samples. TSA has several hundred handheld ETD’s that are capable of detecting explosives particles as well as vapor.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scanners are checkpoint-sized versions of the large checked baggage scanners that have MRI-like capability that will detect anything – solids and liquids. They are large and expensive so TSA does not have many of them. We will be deploying them in smaller airports to screen both carry-on and checked baggage.

Several hundred bottle scanners - handheld or bench-top devices –are deployed throughout the country to provide TSA with the capability to differentiate liquid explosives from common, benign liquids. We use them to test exception liquids (medical needs above 3.4 ounces) and for spot checking passengers and bags.

Spectrometers, very advanced handheld units that can resolve any threat regardless of the chemistry involved, have been issued to TSA Bomb Appraisal Officers at major airports.

Hundreds of dropper-based or test strip-based chemical analyzers kits are deployed at smaller airports to resolve any concerns about individual exempt liquids larger than 3-1-1 in carry-ons.

About 40 Whole Body Imagers are deployed to larger airports around the country to date, and about 80 more will be deployed by spring-time. These are the walk-in portals that scan the body and can detect concealed items, including liquids.

And while they’re not actually a technology, it is important to note that about 2,000 TSA officers have been specially trained in Behavior Detection.

In addition, every officer in the country is receiving two days of specialized training– going on right now – to get at evolving threats, including liquids. To keep current, TSA runs IED drills every shift across the country, every day.

K-9 Teams (over 500) are another effective explosives detection capability and we use them in passenger areas, around the airport, and have several hundred additional teams just for air cargo.

Path Forward

We are deploying the best technology and training as fast as we can get it. The goal is to remove all the restrictions on liquids when we have automated systems that can accurately separate threat from non-threat liquids. Here’s the plan:

Now: We are pretty close to having a network of AT-X-Ray deployed so that nearly 70% of daily passengers will be using major airports with AT. TSA is getting the hardware installed so that when the software is ready in the next year or so, all we have to do is a software upgrade. We will be testing software versions in the coming months.

Fall-2009: Size restriction removed, but all liquids will have to be placed in a separate bin. AT X-Ray software will be advanced enough to tell the difference between threat and non-threat but not yet proven to tell the difference when it is hidden in a bag.

End of 2010: No restrictions. AT X-Ray will have upgraded software that is proven to detect threat liquids in any configuration and is deployed in enough places so that TSA can change the rules to meet one uniform standard for the country.

Next Steps

TSA is working with our partners around the world to share technology both ways and this has resulted in a faster development process and will mean that there could be common design standards with major partners like Canada, the EU, and Australia.

It is also likely that when the U.S. takes steps on liquid restrictions, we will do so in harmony with others, as we did with the 3-1-1 (three ounce container/one quart bag/one bag per person) liquids rule. It is fair to say that we and our global partners see the threat in the same way and know that a common, high level of security encompassing a large part of the world is in everybody’s best interests.

Right now at home, we’re looking at some short term options based on passenger feedback and input from airports and airlines. We think there is an opportunity to build on the Diamond Self-Select lanes systems that we have tried in 2008.

The Diamond Self-Select lanes system, where expert travelers and families choose the lane best suited for them, has worked well. The expert lanes are fast and the Family lanes are hassle-free and they are at 45 airports today. TSA, airports, and airlines can further develop that concept, and we’re looking at something along the following lines.

- Limit the Black Diamond (Expert) lanes more formally beyond self-select.

  • By number or size of carry-ons?
  • By 3-1-1 only, no exception liquids?

- Focus liquid detection technology at the Family/Special Needs lanes and ask those with exception liquids to go there – speeding up the other lanes in the process?

Liquids restrictions are with us for the better part of the next year but we all realize that a simple, hassle-free security process is good for passengers and security too. Thank you for coming to TSA.gov and I am looking forward to your feedback.
Kip Hawley




***Update 10/27/08***
3 oz or 3.4 oz? What gives???

OK, here’s the scoop. If the U.S. would have switched to the metrics system in the 70s, this wouldn’t be an issue.

When the TSA lifted the total liquid ban and implemented the 3-1-1 program, the permissible amount of liquids, aerosols and gels was 3oz. Press releases went out, WebPages were updated, and signs were printed and shipped out nationwide to 457 airports. A lot of work went into the 3-1-1 campaign.

When the TSA rolled this out, the European Union was not on board yet. When the EU decided to allow liquids to travel, the amount permitted was 100ml. Well, as we all know, 100ml = 3.4oz. not 3 oz.

In order to align with the EU, we decided to allow liquids in containers up to 3.4oz, but we decided to keep our signage the same. The 3-1-1 program was so successful, that it would have been a shame to change it to 3.4-1-1. J

TSOs nationwide should be allowing liquids up to 3.4oz. If they are not, you can ask for a supervisor or you can use our Got Feedback program.

Bob
EoS Blog Team

Comments

Submitted by George on
Kip: Standard X-Ray is deployed everywhere and can effectively identify the presence of liquids and their containers. It is not reliable in differentiating all threat liquids from non-threat liquids.

I recently was kept waiting at an uncrowded TSA checkpoint while I watched someone pass about a dozen cases of bottled water through the x-ray machine. After I survived my own screening, I went to the concessionaire and confirmed my suspicion. The bottles were the same brand as the ones I saw going through the x-ray machine.

Given that standard x-ray is "not reliable in differentiating all threat liquids from non-threat liquids," I have real difficulty understanding what I observed. Is the x-ray just part of the security theater, done as mindless routine because "everything that enters the sterile area shall be x-rayed?" Or does the TSA actually believe that the x-ray is sufficient to assure the safety of water bottles sold by airport concessionaires at inflated prices, while an identical bottle of water bought elsewhere at a normal price is forbidden because a normal x-ray can't distinguish its contents from explosives?

I know that you want us to ignore the inexplicable and absurd things we observe at TSA checkpoints, and maintain uncritical "patriotic" faith in your continual assertions that it's all sensible and necessary based on intelligence that must necessarily remain unknown to us. But any passenger who is even minimally aware and minimally intelligent will quickly lose any respect and credibility toward the TSA after they've endured the screening process a few times. There's too often a disconnect between what the TSA says and what we observe at checkpoints. The frequently-discussed implementation of the War On Liquids particularly invites skepticism and distrust toward the TSA and all its procedures. Given your admission that "there has to be a better way," I think it's appropriate to ask whether the supposed benefits of the War on Liquids outweigh the damage it does the TSA's effectiveness by undermining the credibility of everything it does.

It's good to see you go on record stating that "there has to be a better way," and that you have a plan and timetable for addressing this "pain point." But somehow I suspect that for every step forward there will be two or three steps back, since that has been the history of the TSA.

Your successor will have the unenviable task of building confidence in an agency that is so widely criticized, distrusted, and even reviled. I would hope that he or she understands that the TSA will only be effective in its mission when passengers respect it, have confidence in it, and want to cooperate with its employees in realizing the common goal we all share, of keeping aviation safe from the terrorist threat. One way to start building that confidence is to reduce (or preferably eliminate) what is visibly absurd and ridiculous, and by treating passengers as partners in the security process rather than as enemies or threats.
Submitted by Tomas on
Kip wrote...
When it comes to liquids, everybody involved with checkpoint operations -- passengers, airlines, airports, and TSA employees -- agrees that there has to be a better way. Here’s my take on the path forward.

For this discussion, I am using “liquids” as short-hand for liquids, aerosols, and gels and other novel types of explosives.

That brings me to my first question, Kip.

Currently TSOs at the government checkpoints do not apparently understand the difference between "liquid ounce" measurement and "net weight" measurement and are automatically rejecting toothpaste that weighs more than 3.4 ounces, but is LESS than 3.4 ounces liquid measure. Toothpaste is sold by weight, not volume, and is so marked.

Will you please train your TSOs to understand the difference between liquid (volume) and weight measure?

Right now at home, we’re looking at some short term options based on passenger feedback and input from airports and airlines. We think there is an opportunity to build on the Diamond Self-Select lanes systems that we have tried in 2008.

The Diamond Self-Select lanes system, where expert travelers and families choose the lane best suited for them, has worked well. The expert lanes are fast and the Family lanes are hassle-free and they are at 45 airports today. TSA, airports, and airlines can further develop that concept, and we’re looking at something along the following lines.

- Limit the Black Diamond (Expert) lanes more formally beyond self-select.

* By number or size of carry-ons?
* By 3-1-1 only, no exception liquids?

- Focus liquid detection technology at the Family/Special Needs lanes and ask those with exception liquids to go there – speeding up the other lanes in the process?

And that brings me to my next question...

As a handicapped individual I need reasonable accommodations from the TSA at checkpoints. I'm mobility impaired, but have fought my way OUT of a wheelchair after using one for three years. In part, my limitations are distance I can walk and length of time I can remain standing.

I may not be the person you want in your "Black Diamond" lanes, and finding something as simple as a lane marked with the accepted international handicapped symbol (wheelchair in blue and white), where I will be assured of as short a path as practical, a place to sit to remove my shoes, a place to sit to put my shoes on, and as short a time standing in line as practical, does not seem to be something TSA has figured out.

May I have your personal assurance that your people will work WITH the handicapped rather than against us in getting through these chokepoints quickly and with the accommodations we require?

The requirement to provide needed accommodations is settled law, and shuffling me off to the longest, slowest, least accommodating line possible because I cannot move rapidly is NOT an acceptable response.

Thank you for coming to TSA.gov and I am looking forward to your feedback. -- Kip

And thank you in advance for your answers...

Tom (1 of 5-6)
Submitted by Anonymous on

Am I the only one who did a dance when I read this.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, it'll have taken what? Three years for the TSA to finally understand that a policy that believes six ounces of shampoo in one bottle can blow up a plane, while two three-ounce bottles can't is silly.

Maybe, in another three years, the TSA will also figure out that what brought down the airplanes on 9/11 wasn't boxcutters but a bad CONOPS (cooperate with hijackers) and unsecured cockpit doors, and allow pocket knives again.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Kip is it 3 oz or 3.4 oz?

Can TSA decide on just one standard?

Submitted by Anonymous on

There is no threat from liquids, full stop. You could save all of this time and money by eliminating your nonsensical restrictions NOW. Shame on you.

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Anonymous said...
Kip is it 3 oz or 3.4 oz?

Can TSA decide on just one standard?

October 25, 2008 9:33 AM
***********************************
It is 3.4 ounces why is this still a question?

Submitted by Yangj08 on

"It is 3.4 ounces why is this still a question?"
Because TSOs at some airports are still taking "3-1-1" literally. 0.4 ounces doesn't seem like much, but I'd like to be able to not have to dump my 100ml bottles because someone still thinks that the limit is 3 ounces exactly.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Attention TSA. Liquid explosives are not novel!! Nitroglycerin was one of the first (if not the first) high explosives, way back in the 1800s.

Nor are peroxide-based explosives or other nitrate-based liquid explosives novel. Both have been around for a while.

In spite of that commercial aviation worked just fine without a war-on-water for many decades, with the exception of one unfortunate incident involving nitroglycerin, which only killed one person. (an outcome which could be achieved by a deranged pax strangling another with a belt; I'm sure you want to ban our clothes next, out of an "abundance of caution." :( ) In the pre-TSA era, that incident was seen as an unfortunate anomaly, but the world managed to go on without a paranoid overreaction.

I suspect one of the reasons aviation worked so well without a war on water is that the bad guys knew solid explosives were and are the best option for their plans and that solid explosives are still fairly easy to get by screening. And the pre-TSA security infrastructure knew that it should focus on the probable threats, not the improbable pie in the sky threats.

Nothing at all changed in 8/06, except that TSA felt it needed a publicity stunt and excessive risk-avoidance. TSA knew about the London plot for months prior to 8/06 but did nothing. Only after public exposure of the alleged-plot did TSA step up the security theater. Even if you felt there was a "new" threat from liquid explosives, having pax take their (un-restricted) liquids out of their carry-ons and implementing stepped up random ETD swabs would have mitigated that concern.

But instead you banned an entire state of matter in a classic paranoid knee-jerk reaction. :(

Meanwhile, your detection rate for guns and solid explosives is still dreadful. Your TSOs waste their time looking for and confiscating toothpaste and water bottles.

I hope you do fix this problem next year, if not sooner. I also hope you quit harassing innocent Americans with a secret blacklist that has no due process and no effective means of redress, and quit you plans to develop a Stasi-like travel-dossier on Americans that will be used to grant permission for the "privilege " of travel. :(

Submitted by Anonymous on

at least their moving forward in the right direction, give them credit for that

Submitted by Anonymous on
Thank you for coming to TSA.gov and I am looking forward to your feedback. -- Kip

No you are not looking forward to our feed back Kip because much of it remains quite negative over perceived foot dragging by DHS, Hollywood terrorist scenarios, bizarre SOP, out of control TSOs who routinely abuse the elderly and disabled.
Submitted by Anonymous on

http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/storyviewx.cgi?080+News.20081024-3239-080-0...

Woman told she's on TSA list


By Lee Einer

The elderly mother of a Las Vegas woman said that she was moved from her wheelchair, spread-eagled and physically searched by the Transportation Security Administration in Albuquerque. She says it’s not the first time and that officers searched her dog, too.
Patricia Anderson, 85, of Everett, Wash., visits her daughter, Cordia Sammeth, every year in Las Vegas. Sammeth drives her mother down to Las Vegas from Washington; Anderson returns home by plane.
Last Friday, Anderson was headed home; she was in a wheelchair when she came to the security checkpoint at the Albuquerque airport. Anderson said TSA personnel made her get up out of her wheelchair, stand spread-eagled and submit to a body search.
“I have difficulty with my mobility,” Anderson said. “But I had to stand up and spread my arms and legs out. It was very difficult. I’m 85 years old, and my balance isn’t that great anyway.”
This year, they had Anderson hold her traveling companion, a toy poodle named Sammy, while they searched the dog’s carrier. Anderson said that last year, in Seattle, the TSA didn’t just search the carrier, they took her little dog into a back room and body-searched it as well.
Patricia Anderson doesn’t know why the officers would think she’s a terrorist. A retired nurse, she describes herself as conservative and said she is quiet about her political opinions.
“I have not been one who participated in demonstrations or anything like that,” Anderson said. “ I have never been an activist or taken a strong public stand on anything.”
Anderson said that when she asked why she had been singled out to be searched, the TSA personnel said first it was because her name was in its database. Then, she said, they gave her another reason. “They said, ‘The terrorists didn’t buy one-way tickets.’”
Anderson believes the TSA should be more aware of people’s physical limitations. “They should know that if someone’s in a wheelchair they have physical difficulties,” Anderson said. “I’m not unpatriotic. It’s just that I think they carry some things a little to the extreme. “
TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said she could not comment on this incident because she could not confirm it. She was able to say that Anderson may have a similar name to someone on a watch list, but added that the TSA does not release information about names in the database.
McCauley said TSA policy is to wheel chair-bound passengers around the scanner and wand them in their chairs if they cannot walk through the scanner.
“We do not put people in an uncomfortable position,” McCauley said. McCauley also said dogs passing through the checkpoint get patted down and wanded.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
You people are terrorists:


The elderly mother of a Las Vegas woman said that she was moved from her wheelchair, spread-eagled and physically searched by the Transportation Security Administration in Albuquerque. She says it’s not the first time and that officers searched her dog, too.

October 25, 2008 9:54 AM



Any Photos or Video proof?
would like to have evidance of TSA debachery

Submitted by SecurityAdvocate on

The story below illustrates that the TSA will always be "security theater."

Synopsis: 85-year-old woman in a wheelchair told she's on TSA's list: http://tiny.cc/wHQ1R

Submitted by D on

I think that you should not exclude people with exception liquids from the Black Diamond lanes. While you may *legally* be able to do it, I think it is wrong to exclude someone simply because they have to take medicine that is an exception liquid. The other exception, from what I remember of the liquid rules is is people with baby formula for an infant. So, you're going to be prohibiting people who need medicine and parents with infants from the express line. My experience going through the security line (and claiming an exception) has not led to a delay for other passengers, as far as I can tell, since they just looked at my medicine and let me go on.

Submitted by Txrus on

Let me second what George said above, except in my case, it was a stack of cases of glass beer bottles heading for one of the bars on the AA said of Terminal B @ BOS & the delivery person cut in front of those of waiting in the elite line; made it a bit hard to miss. Went thru the exact same x-ray machine I put my belongings in &, BTW, the screeners use to put their jumbo cups of coffee they get from the Dunkin Donuts right outside the checkpoint thru (they also cut in front of the passengers).

As many, many others have reported, both here & on other Forums, the TSA's 'War on Water' doesn't happen outside the US unless one is boarding a flight to the US, so I would question your claim to 'help' bring the int'l community up to the TSA's speed; seems to me, they're miles & miles ahead of you, Kip, & it's the TSA that needs to do the catching up!

Submitted by RB on

TSO Tom said...
Anonymous said...
Kip is it 3 oz or 3.4 oz?

Can TSA decide on just one standard?

October 25, 2008 9:33 AM
***********************************
It is 3.4 ounces why is this still a question?

October 25, 2008 11:27 AM

////////////////////////
Because Kip referenced both 3-1-1 and 3.4oz. It cannot be both and your boss still seems confused on this issue.

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

Anonoymous: "Any Photos or Video proof?
would like to have evidance of TSA debachery"

Evidence conveniently disappears ... err is recorded over as part of the normal cycle when it's something that embarasses TSA. If it's something like the sippy cup lady at DCA, well, it'll be out in a jiffy complete with a mythbuster's posting to debunk the "myth" / discredit the accuser.

Earl

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yangj,

I have had similar experience as you. Toothpaste is sold in weight, not volume. That, plus the total lack of understanding of the metric system by TSOs, has lead to many a discussion regarding my 90 g tube. These people also don't seem to understand that international air travel is not acceptable without toothpaste. They also seem to think that putting the international traveler, who is already exhausted from his/her trip, through repeated scans and haraSSSSment is OK. It is not.

Get rid of the war on liquids now! Remember most countries in the world allow liquids unless, of course, you are going to the US-TSA-land.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Kip,

Please explain why you are investing in full body scanners. They are invasive, and as a result, you have to give the option of opting out. Since a person can opt out, it necessarily does not work, because the one in a billion with something to hide will know which option works best. Worse, they cannot detect things in body cavities, which makes them completely useless if someone really wants to take something on their body. Trace chemical scanners and puffers can detect chemicals no matter where they are and without the privacy concerns. Why are you not investing heavily in those?

Answer: security theater. Puffers are a lot less coll than virtual strip searches.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Posted by D:
I think that you should not exclude people with exception liquids from the Black Diamond lanes.


Agree, and in fact I'm against TSA messing with the "self-select" of the express lanes at all over any criteria--liquids, # of bags, bag size, etc.

I go through with a max-sized rollaboard and a very large laptop case. But I know the drill, and can do the shoe-carnival dance, 3.4-1-1 dance, coat dance, laptop-out dance, etc. quick enough that my stuff never holds up the x-ray conveyor belt. And my items only get called for a bag check maybe once a year for totally random reasons beyond my control. (e.g., a screener at CID last month spent 10 minutes pawing through my bag looking for my nail clippers which had never interested them before, even just after 9/11).

Forcing me into the "family"/slow lane because I would choose to carry a bottle of wine would be a bad idea for both me and the "families." Even TSA admits that one of the best things that has come out of the self-select program is that the families/slow people don't feel pressured by all the speedy frequent fliers. Shoving a bunch of us into the slow lane is just going to irritate us and put pressure on the slow-lane to speed up, which then will irritate the family/slow-lane people who were just trying to do the right thing themselves.

Oh, and TSA: abolish the no-fly list. Secret blacklist + no due process and no effective means of redress + having to request permission from the government for domestic travel == East German Stasi and un-American. Read the Constitution.
Submitted by Anonymous on

You can't even get your screeners to stop yelling at people and carnival barking. You won't be able to get them to do this.

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Is there any TSO on this forum that does not KNOW the limit is 3.4 oz?

Submitted by Graham Gallagher on

Yes, we have greavances, when we have been kept waiting at security at an airport etc, however I think it's worth it in the end, as it would be our loved ones who would be complaining if something horrific happened onboard with liquids.

Just look at the operation in the UK, when they caught 5 people who were planning to down 5 transatlantic flights in the same day!

I think it's a case of give and take.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
You people are terrorists:


The elderly mother of a Las Vegas woman said that she was moved from her wheelchair, spread-eagled and physically searched by the Transportation Security Administration in Albuquerque. She says it’s not the first time and that officers searched her dog, too.

October 25, 2008 9:54 AM



Any Photos or Video proof?
would like to have evidance of TSA debachery

October 25, 2008 3:50
\\\\\\\\\\\\///////////

If TSA utilized video surveillence at all points that it's agents interactred with people or peoples property then the evidence would be readily available.

Now you know why TSA has not implemented video surveillance at all of it's checkpoints.

Deniability!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
Kip,

Please explain why you are investing in full body scanners. They are invasive, and as a result, you have to give the option of opting out.
........................
Do you even think for a moment that TSA will not modify the rules and require MMW scanning?

The requirment for providing ID or not was optional until a few months ago. A court case was settled by TSA saying that a person did not have to provide ID. TSA lied!

The more recent policy of having to provide name, address and date of birth was suppose to be optional, but not now. Again TSA lied!

Why should anyone have any faith that TSA policies won't be changed to be more restrictive when they have repeatably said one thing then turn around and do something else.

TSA is corrupt, it's senior employees are corrupt and they seem to have little problem being untruthful when stating policy to the public.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Liquids! My favorite subject!

Let's start with definitions: What on Earth does the TSA consider a liquid? For example, why is tooth powder a liquid but not liquid fillings within chocolates or grapes, or glass?

Second, the central problem: Liquids are essential. You can't deny toothpaste, deodorant, eye drops or chapstick to the average traveler. You really can't deny insulin for the diabetic traveler, or milk for babies. That means that either you accept anything, or you have the technology to test specific exemptions. Nothing else makes sense, otherwise we can all start bringing our favorite drinks inside contact lens solition.

Third, the relevance: There is nothing liquid and explosive that can't be transformed into a solid explosive. Therefore, limiting liquids makes no sense.

The war on liquids should end now. You have kept the goat in the house long enough. Let us breathe a bit.

Submitted by Ronnie on

I am very ecxited about the size restrictions on liquids being removed. If I read the info correctly about the new technology coming down the pipe, I have a really big concern for those of us @ the checkpoint. Let me explain...

Understanding that the new technology will hopefully be able to differentiate "good" from "bad" liquids is something we can all agree will be fantastic. The problem comes in with the stipulation that they ALL must put in the bin since a threat on non-threat cannot be determined if it is still in the passengers luggage.
(Heck, we can't get the passengers to take them out now as it is) But now we will have even MORE trouble getting passengers to comply because they now believe we have new and improved magic machines. And with fewer PAX removing the liquids, the lines will move slower because we will have to check even more bags than we do now. Heck, we still can't get the people to take their computers out of the bags! I surely can't be the only TSO who has thought about this...

Even before I became a TSO, I was aware of the liquid ban. Heck, I remember having to surrender my lighter and nail clippers at one point early on. No big deal. When I traveled I just got my provisions on the "other side" of my trip. When I stayed at a motel, there were little toiletries for me to use. I used my parents shampoo, or my friends toothpaste. I do not see why others can't do this. And while at the checkpoint, I don't see why you need to bring a 16oz. tube of lotion! Get it on the other side! And if you must have it, put it in your checked luggage. Or ship it to yourself.

Yeah, I know...you don't want to either 1)pay to check your bag or 2) wait in the baggage claim area once you get to the other end. Because God knows you can't be put out in any way shape or form because you are just too important/busy/special/priveledged or otherwise different from everybody else.

I know how it is. I used to have that very same mindset myself. I was in a hurry at the checkpoint. I didn't get all my stuff out. I didn't want to wait in baggage, I had places to go...Now that I am on the other side of the x-ray I see I just caused myself and TSO's more agrevation than I needed to. I appologize for that.

Just my humble opinion, (mine and no one elses lest some of you attribute my comments to all TSOs)
I think ALL liquids should be banned. You or I can get what we need on the other side. I have read articles on types of liquid explosive mixtures that can do great harm in quantities of much less that 3 oz. Two or three people taking an ounce or two thru several different lanes can cook up a bomb in the concourse area and that would be a very bad thing.
Am I the only one that worries about this?

I would appreciate comstructive comments from passengers and TSOs alike. Please don't belittle me for my opinions or fears. I really do want to do my best to keep us all safe.

Ronnie TSO DEN

Submitted by Gem on

It'll be great when liquids are allowed again. Especially since airlines have started to charge for even one checked bag. Also, it'd be nice to be able to take a real lunch again instead of just dried granola, etc.

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Okay, since no TSO on this forum has claimed NOT to know what the limit is, lets assume that all TSO's SHOULD know what the limit is. Now lets talk about 3-1-1:
311 was designed as a guideline for TSO's and passengers alike, at a time when the limit WAS 3.0 oz. It wasn't very long after 311 was thought up, that the limit was RAISED to 3.4 oz. However, the signage was never changed. What would we call it? 3.4-1-1? doesn't make much sense does it? The 1 quart zip lock bag is still in effect, and its still one bag per passenger. At our airport, we changed the 3.0 to 3.4 manually, and every TSO KNOWS what the real limit is. So, when I asked why this is still a question, it was to figure out why its still an issue, not only in this forum, but at the checkpoints as well. In this forum, it has been esteablished repeatedly that the limit is 3.4 oz. And while some claim that ALL liquids/gels etc are BANNED but there are exceptions, I dispute that analogy, because if ALL LAG's were indeed BANNED as stated in a prior thread, there would be NO EXCEPTIONS. Does this make sense guys? So I ask again, if every TSO knows what the limit is, and its been established in a previous thread that the limit is indeed 3.4 (nevermind that some claim a total ban), then there should be NO QUESTION. So when we speak of 311, we're not speaking of 3.0 oz, we're speaking of the general guideline that was established to show passengers how to package their LAGs. Capesh? ;-)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Another pearl from Ronnie: "I think ALL liquids should be banned. You or I can get what we need on the other side."

As always, TSOs do not think about the international traveler. Did you know, Ronnie, that I often am in airspace (airplanes + airports), separated from my checked luggage, for more than 24 hours? Do you really think taking toothpaste and deodorant with me on board is an unnecessary luxury? Do you really think it is worth the inconvenience to millions of honest travelers to ban liquids based on an unproven, scientifically unsound threat?

Submitted by Jim Huggins on

TSO Tom writes:

311 was designed as a guideline for TSO's and passengers alike, at a time when the limit WAS 3.0 oz. It wasn't very long after 311 was thought up, that the limit was RAISED to 3.4 oz. However, the signage was never changed. What would we call it? 3.4-1-1? doesn't make much sense does it?

With all due respect ... why does TSA have to call it anything at all? Not everything in life has to have a catchy slogan. After all, TSA doesn't have a slogan for how long your scissors blades can be, or to remind passengers to take off their shoes, or any of the other dozens of rules that must be followed.

So I ask again, if every TSO knows what the limit is, and its been established in a previous thread that the limit is indeed 3.4 (nevermind that some claim a total ban), then there should be NO QUESTION.

Except for two problems:

1) It's been made quite clear here that many TSOs don't know their own rules. I think there are over 2000 TSOs; I seriously doubt all of them are reading this.

2) Even if all TSOs know the rules, you now have a problem where the "printed rule" (the one on the signs and in the brochures) and the "real rule" (the one the TSOs know) are different. If TSA is going to keep asking passengers to help out by knowing the rules, it should at least make sure that the rules it publishes are accurate.

(Of course, it'd be nice if passengers had a list of all the rules they had to follow, but TSA has indicated that they're not going to provide that.)

Submitted by Anonymous on
I used my parents shampoo, or my friends toothpaste. I do not see why others can't do this. And while at the checkpoint, I don't see why you need to bring a 16oz. tube of lotion! Get it on the other side! And if you must have it, put it in your checked luggage. Or ship it to yourself.

Cool, if you stay at either your parents house or a friends house. The issue becomes one where you travel into a new city/country on business. Granted you could go to a store if one were open and purchase what you need. Seen the exchange rate for Euros lately? You might spend $9.00 for a tube of toothpaste, if you spoke the language you might even find it. You don't travel for a living (49 weeks out of the year for me)and what you suggest is pretty funny and expensive.

Pack it in luggage? Yep, already do that and have had every container in my toiletries opened up by someone (probably a TSO) on around four flights. Makes for a good mess at the end of the trip. Means I've got to find a laundry if I want clean clothing.

Sitting in a laundromat on the evening of my arrival isn't a whole lot of fun. Oh, and if you say 'air pressure differential' opened up those containers some of the containers had screw on lids on them. Nice try though.
Submitted by RB on

TSO Tom said...
Okay, since no TSO on this forum has claimed NOT to know what the limit is, lets assume that all TSO's SHOULD know what the limit is. Now lets talk about 3-1-1:

For TSO Tom:

http://www.tsa.gov/311
/index.shtm

Well 3.0oz is specifically stated on the "Official TSA.GOV webpage at the link I pasted above.

There are plenty of reasons to not trust all TSO's to know the standard whatever it may be.

TSO NY for example. Remeber him?

TSA is nonfunctional. Period!

Submitted by TSO Tom on

I won't advocate a total ban on liquids/gels etc. Nor will I advocate a total lifting of the current limit. I will say that as shown by the posters in this thread alone, 311 has outlived its usefullness. So once again, lets say that 3.4 (or 100 ml) is the rule, and that all items under that limit must be packaged in a 1 quart sized, sealed, zip lock bag. With that in mind, there are additional exceptions, such as medication and baby formula/milk, etc. With that in mind, TSO's have additional leeway with items that are under the limit but may not be in a bag. Discretion if you will. How a TSO applies said discretion may vary...but it is there. At this point, Kip I'd have to say it is getting quite confusing, even for a seasoned TSO to follow, and I do feel for passengers who voice their concerns in this forum, because it has to be a total loss for them to follow.

Submitted by TSO Tom on

Jim Huggins said
(Of course, it'd be nice if passengers had a list of all the rules they had to follow, but TSA has indicated that they're not going to provide that.)
***********************************
Yes Jim, I agree with you that it would be nice if the rules were made available to the public, and I have suggested some type of publication to provide said rules, but haven't seen it yet.

Submitted by Ronnie on

Like I said, ban ALL liquids. Then that 3/3.4 ounce stuff would be a moot point. The only exceptions should be medical supplies and baby/toddler milk or foods. The rest we can all do without for 24 hrs., or get on the 'other side'.
This would include the 'other side' of the checkpoint BEFORE you fly out. Don't most airports have numerous gift shops down on the concourses? Don't want to spend the money? Afraid of $9.00 toothpaste in Europe? Buy it for $3.00 in the gift shop past the checkpoint. Then you would have it to carry on if you can't do without. This is not meant to be flip or mean, it is only a helpful suggestion. And one I really do believe would speed things up across the board. Yeah, it may be at worst inconvenient. But simply taking care of your liquid needs after you go thru the security checkpoint is really not a big deal. I do it myself. We all could. Think of how much faster you could get thru security. I bet the "NO Liquid" line would be the fastest at every airport.

Ronnie TSO DEN

Submitted by Robert Johnson on
Quote from Graham Gallagher: "Yes, we have greavances, when we have been kept waiting at security at an airport etc, however I think it's worth it in the end, as it would be our loved ones who would be complaining if something horrific happened onboard with liquids."

These liquids have been around for years beforehand. What made them ok for years beforehand (or an acceptable risk at least) that suddenly they became an issue?

"Just look at the operation in the UK, when they caught 5 people who were planning to down 5 transatlantic flights in the same day!

And they also caught someone who wanted to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. Just because someone WANTS to do something doesn't mean they CAN or it's even feasible or possible to do so.

None of those people were convicted on terrorism or exploding with a liquid bomb. 3 were convicted on conspiracy to murder charges. One was found not guilty and no verdict could be reached on the other 4.

In other words, the prosecution didn't have the evidence it claimed it did to get a conviction on terrorism charges.

"I think it's a case of give and take.

TSA keeps taking from us. What does it give? Surely not security.

Robert
Submitted by Al Ames on

So Ronnie, why should I have to rebuy all my toiletries when I have perfectly acceptable ones that can be taken and should be permitted on a plane? Administrative convenience isn't a valid excuse, and we have yet to see any real evidence out of TSA/DHS outside one fancy video and an "expert" who sells bomb detection equipment.

Submitted by Traveling_Paramedic on

The only path forward on the liquid issue is to remove it as its has been proven many times that its not viable outside of tightly controlled lab conditions. If you think 3 oz is "a deadly threat" then I can post a number of multi-drug cocktails that would dispatch someone in less then 50CC or 1.7 fluid oz.


Tom - you have contradicted your self yet again. which is it 3 oz or 100 ml

Bob, Kip, Nico, etc please either educate your screeners or set your hiring standards higher as your screeners dont seem to know the rules or how to convert imperial to metric and vice versa. Then when challenged on the issue seem to power trip and issue that oh so familiar terroristic threat of DYWTFT.

So please explain the restriction on liquids and are the limits volume, weight, or displacement because there is a massive difference, because different items are sold differently, IE that 8oz tube of toothpaste is only 3 fluid oz, but weighs 8oz, and that's how it is marked. Then there is the medicine issue that pops up repeatedly that never gets asked and has been posted here again without being answered.

Then also is it a ziploc bag or a zip top bag because i have seen screeners toss peoples baggies because they were not ziploc brand bags. Then what about the 1 ltr bags that are sold in other countries and in the US, are those banned to? Can screener's tell the minute difference between a 1 qt and 1 ltr baggie without the bag being marked as such?

Then it is sad that your screeners cant seem to do basic math that the rest of the world learns before there teenage years. 3oz does not equal 100ml. 3oz is 88ml, 3.4 oz is 100ml.


Then finally since where discussing screening standards and procedures any of the TSA bloggers care to explain why screeners total blatent disregard CDC guidelines for the use of Body Substance Isolation (BSI) in reguards to the use of gloves in the screening process. Then are they Nitrile, vinyl, or latex (i hope its not the last due the populations sensitivity to latex).

In my last trip i have seen so many gross things its not even funny. Literally makes me sick because of how there used is now being used as a method to transfer bacteria. IE the screener that i witnessed go into the bathroom with there gloves on go to the bathroom then exit and go back to screening without changing gloves. If that was done in a restaurant that would be a health code violation, and the restaurant would be fined or shut down. Urine maybe sterile in the body but once outside it is no longer sterile and can transmit disease and infection. Then there is the TDC that was checking IDs who must have had a cold or something because they kept wiping there nose and face, but never changed gloves. I nearly lost my breakfast, and got a whats wrong with you look when i used my fingernails to take my license (since my city issued Ambulance permit wasn't acceptable). I wish i had a sterile 4x4 or culture kit as I wonder what would have grown. thank goodness for packaged single PDI wipes and gloves so i could clean my license. This and always wearing socks so my skin isnt directly on the floor so as to limit what i come in contact with when i travel. Im not a germaphobe but I come in contact with enough nasty bugs at work i dont need to add to my exposure risk when traveling.

Exam gloves were designed for ONE time use and then to be thrown away. NOT to be used for a extended period of times touching multiple items from different people. you dont use gloves for a extended period of time because all of the movement of your hand causes the glove to breakdown and to tear, in addition to everything your touching and putting on the gloves surface and then transmitting it to the next object. This is one of the biggest gripes i have with the screening process as it poses a true health hazard to the general public and to screeners as well.

In the field I use gloves for one patient and one patient only, and for a limited period of time normally less then 15 minutes. This is because they either get contaminated with a bodily fluid or because my hands get hot and start to float in the glove due to sweat. I will change gloves every time i do a procedure (finger stick to check blood sugar, IV start, medication administration, etc)

Then if i have two patients i change gloves when im done with one patient before going to do anything on the second patient so not to risk cross contamination or transmission. Good example is when i was on hurricane deployment one of my runs from a gulf coast hospital to a inland one i have three patients, and during our 7 hour transport i changed gloves so many times that i went through 2 boxes of gloves (qty 150 each) when it was all said and done. This wasnt a out of place either because another ambulance in our convoy had a patient on a ventilator that wasnt all that stable that they had to work on for the whole trip and that medic went through more gloves then me and this medic only this patient to deal with.

So why cant screeners change between people? gloves are dirt (pardon the pun) cheap so the cost component/factor wont fly. Also then why is it so hard for screeners to comply with requests to change gloves. I have had so many screeners look at me like i smacked there grandmother when i make that request its not even funny.

Traveling_Paramedic

In vegas heading home after two back-to-back trade shows.

Submitted by Mr Gel-pack on

Kip, is part of your great "path forward" going to include basic training, such as would avoid TSA supervisors confiscating things like a gel-pack used to keep breast milk from spoiling? If your personnel can't even keep the rules straight, improved equipment won't make their inspections more effective.

I would think an important part of any sane way forward would be to figure out what the rules are, communicate them to your staff, and, in any "free" society, communicate the rules with the public.

As long as you try to enforce arbitrary and secret rules on the public, TSA will continue to have problems. As long as your management structure lets agents create and enforce non-rules, you are guaranteed to have an arbitrary and capricious system.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Ronnie,

You live in a different reality. Most gift shops in airports do not sell toothpaste and deodorant. I could not find any within the Miami and Chicago international airports (which are quite large) during the horrid days of total liquid bans. I actually refused to go to the US on two occasions during those months. Try it: Go around your airport and find those two items in the "sterile area". You'll see it is not easy.

Outside the US, many airports are much smaller and do not have more than a few snack and book stores. Besides, liquids are checked for at the gate in these countries, because they are limited only on flights to the US.

And, of course, we international travelers are re-checked when we get in the US, often more than once. That means that even if we could find a "sterile" toothpaste in our boarding airport and hang on to it during the long overnight flight in, we would not be able to take it with us on our internal connections.

Limiting liquids is inhumane and unacceptable. Even Kip understands that!

Submitted by Trollkiller on

When Congress is away the Kip will play. You should hang out here more often, this group has to be nicer than those pompous politicians.

So would a novel type of explosive be a book bomb? *rim shot*

Well Kip I just read your whole post and found NOTHING to argue with you about.

I am not going to nit pick about liquids being a threat or not being a threat. Obviously the TSA sees liquid as a threat and assuming that the time line you stated is followed, I can live with that.

I know the TSA can not be fixed overnight so I will take any honest effort as a good sign.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Afraid of $9.00 toothpaste in Europe?

Typical government employee playing fast and loose with my money. Another poster made a comment about there not being toothpaste and deodorant available at the concourse and I agree that I've never seen any either. Ronny, you should apply for Kip's position once he leaves since you appear to have all of the answers and would make a bad situation even worse.
Submitted by Anonymous on

ronnie said: "Like I said, ban ALL liquids. Then that 3/3.4 ounce stuff would be a moot point. The only exceptions should be medical supplies and baby/toddler milk or foods."

So you want to ban "all" liquids (for perfect safety), but still make exceptions.

So, ronnie, what's to prevent one of these Evildoers from secretly replacing their medication or baby milk with Magical 3-oz Explosive Liquid?

The answer, of course, is nothing. All your plan would do is massively inconvenience everybody while providing zero added security.

Also, if you're really scared of 3 ounces of liquid, you should know that that amount can be easily secreted in a body cavity, undetectably by your milimeter scan technology. So unless you also want the TSA to go into business poking around inside people with those gloves you hate changing, you're never going to get perfect security. Might as well let the liquids on. Especially since there's an ORDER OF MAGNITUDE more solid things that go boom than liquid things.

Give up. You're not going to win this one.

Submitted by Yangj08 on

@ronnie- Fine- I'm sorry, but you're coming off as flip in most senses of the word. Quite a few things you can't find at the sterile area, and you may not have heard of gate screenings- there goes the liquids bought in the "sterile" area. And, of course, when dumping liquids means "going without" for the duration of the stay (international destinations don't quite have the same products the US does), not to mention the possibility of Customs on the other side confiscating the stuff.

No thoughts for the international traveler, as always.

And I also echo traveling_paramedic's concerns.

Oh, and on the topic of the liquids plot- "conspiracy to murder" convictions can be made even if scientific facts or reality would have prevented the plot from actually happening. So for example, even if the liquid explosives they planned to use would have been too volatile to handle outside of "tightly controlled lab conditions" they could still be convicted. So don't think that means it was possible.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The Japanese have been using a 'put the bottle here' LED-reflective system for screening water bottles for at least a year and a half. It is so reassuring to see it taking the TSA such a long time to consider using proven technologies and techniques that other nations have been using for years (and in some cases decades).

Submitted by MarkVII on

I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news. I'm glad to see a plan coming from the TSA with some milestone dates on it. This makes the planned changes much more concrete and more credible. As anyone with a project management background will tell you, the main difference between a plan and a wish list is the presence of specific deliverables and the implementation dates.

Now the bad news. As I've pointed out in prior posts, the TSA puts a lot of PR effort into introducing new hardware. Improved hardware is fine, but what about the people aspect of the TSA's operations? I know that the TSA has made some mention of improved people skills training in the Checkpoint Evolution thread, but this comment was almost made "in passing".

I would like to see the same sort of a specific plan relative to screener's people skills, and timelines for its personnel to complete appropriate training. Here's my suggested curriculum:

-- Dealing with the mobility-challenged, the handicapped, the elderly, etc. in a respectful and courteous way

-- Conflict de-escalation -- ways to defuse a tense situation instead of inflaming it. Using the minimum effective response to a situation.

-- Vocal technique -- how to be project your voice without sounding angry. Differentiating between when to rely on projection vs. other methods of working with crowds.

-- Command presence -- having an authoritative presence without appearing condescending or threatening

-- Threat analysis -- differentiating between a legitimate security threat and a technicality, such as bracelet charm that looks like a gun

-- How to admit when your wrong -- 'nuff said

I'd also like to see specifically how the TSA is going to train and re-train its personnel to the common problem areas with TSA personnel not knowing the TSA's own rules (medical items as they apply to 3-1-1, for example).

One a seeming tangent (and as strange as it may seem), the TSA needs to borrow a page out of the Coast Guard's book from the early days of the "war on drugs".

[background] The CG was given a mandate to stem the flow of illegal drugs into this country. Never mind that the vast majority of the drugs were hidden in commercial freight, the CG spent a lot of time boarding and searching recreational vessels without probable cause. (Another one of these "administrative" exceptions to the 4th Amendment, and a major effort for little return.) Some of their boarding parties handled their new role like a bunch of hoodlums, holding boat occupants at gunpoint while the rest ransacked the boat. (What a way to treat people during a search without probable cause.) Unnecessary property damage often resulted, and normally no drugs were found. The CG ended up with a horrible reputation among recreational boaters, especially in Florida. Many people wrote their Congressmen and Senators about this. The Commandant of the Coast Guard was called to testify as to what was going on. [/background]

The Commandant's subsequent memo to his people contains a lesson for the TSA -- remember that the vast majority of the people you will come into contact with are law abiding citizens, and to treat them and their possessions with respect.

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it"

Pages