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Just Back from BWI - A Thanksgiving Checkpoint Report

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
happy thanksgiving

 

I just spent five hours working alongside Transportation Security Officers at Baltimore Washington International's Southwest Terminal A to help out with the traditional Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving-rush. Thing is, no rush ever occurred. Sure, there was a steady flow of traffic through the checkpoint without much of a break, but the queue never really grew beyond 30 people.

Officers were out in full force manning five separate lanes-including the Family Lane that rolled out November 20. While families and those with special needs certainly appreciated Family Lane availability, the checkpoint was moving so smoothly, that all lanes were readily able to handle all types of passengers regardless of their particular situation.

Like many of my fellow headquarters colleagues who volunteered for the Thanksgiving weekend, I helped officers with bin removal and replacement in the lanes. I also helped spread traffic around to each of the five lanes to expedite the entire process. As I stood behind the Travel Document Checker podium, a frazzled mother approached me and asked:

"Is that the Family Lane over there?"

I replied, "Yes it is."

"Should we go over there?"

"Do you have any medical liquids over 3.4 ounces?"

"Nope. We're traveling pretty light here."

"Then you're good to go right where you are [which happened to be lane 2-the shortest line at the moment]."

Another good thing I noticed during my time at BWI: pies, cakes, and other holiday food items went through checkpoints without incident-though some items were subjected to additional screening.

The holiday spirit was on display as another passenger approached "TSO Dave" while he was helping bags through the X-ray machine and said: "You guys are doing a heck of a job today." Little things like that mean a lot.

While things went smoothly for the most part, there was one interesting moment around noon. As I was chatting with passengers and helping them with their bins, I noticed an Evian bottle with less than three ounces of red liquid in it under one of the metal tables situated in front of the X-ray conveyor belt. I picked it up, and let an officer know where I found it. He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it.* I love technology.

There's been plenty of articles out there about the decrease in traffic over the 2008 holiday season, but it was very clear from my first hand experience at BWI that TSA's officers, expeditious security features, and prepared travelers certainly helped the flow of traffic today.

It was an awesome experience to work with the BWI team and experience firsthand what they do every day.

Hopefully my experience at the checkpoint will continue through Sunday and Monday. Look for another post from my colleague Christine, who will be volunteering at Washington DC-Reagan National Airport on Monday.

Quick update: Traffic has just started to pick up (2:45pm), but all five lanes are still running smoothly. Family Lane is being used primarily by families. Special needs individuals (wheelchairs, etc.) are still being taken care of in all lanes.

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to all.

- Poster Paul


* Clarification: While X-ray can detect many things, it cannot detect all types of liquid explosives. That's why the 3-1-1 liquids rule was put in place in September 2006 and will remain in place until a technology solution is tested and deployed. In this case, when an abandoned item was found at a checkpoint, officers used available technology to screen it to ensure passengers' safety and then disposed of it.

Comments

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

"While things went smoothly for the most part, there was one interesting moment around noon. As I was chatting with passengers and helping them with their bins, I noticed a bottle of red liquid in an Evian bottle under one of the metal tables situated in front of the X-ray conveyor belt. I picked it up, and let an officer know where I found it. He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it. I love technology."

Oh no! A dangerous bottle of red liquid! Please, scan it quickly! Whew, catastrophe averted.

So just what was seen? Yep, that looks like a bottle of koolaid alright.

Ridiculous.

On another note, what makes BWI's A&B concourses so special that we don't get the same tech at the C, D, and international concourses? Is it Southwest worship?

With Blogger Bob out, are we going to have to wait till December 8 to see updates to this blog?

Earl

Submitted by Phil on

Paul of the EoS blog team wrote:

"I noticed a bottle of red liquid in an Evian bottle under one of the metal tables situated in front of the X-ray conveyor belt. I picked it up, and let an officer know where I found it. He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it."

Paul, what can an x-ray possibly reveal about the degree of danger posed by a bottle of unidentified liquid? Given that your x-ray machines can reveal such a risk, why don't you allow people to take whatever liquid they like through your checkpoint as long as your baggage checkers verify via x-ray that the liquid is not dangerous -- like you observed them doing today?

--
Phil

Submitted by Anonymous on

wow that was alot of wasted time on a non-threat that is banned because of a shadow mans opinion that isnt backed by scientific proof

Submitted by Poster Paul EoS... on

Response to November 26, 2008 5:15 PM

TSOs are trained to identify threat liquids using various means. If I got into more detail about what they did beyond putting it through the X-ray, I'd be revealing too much about our procedures. I know you're going to have a field day with this one, but that's just the way it is. Sorry Phil.

- Paul

Submitted by Poster Paul EoS... on

Response to Earl November 26, 2008 5:15 PM

Granted the red liquid thing isn't the most exciting thing in the world, but honestly, that's probably a good sign. If little bottles of red liquid that are probably kool-aid are the "catastrophe" portion of the day, that's definitely a good thing from a security standpoint.

- Paul

Submitted by Anonymous on

Nice writing. It made me feel all warm and smiley until I saw this: I noticed a bottle of red liquid in an Evian bottle under one of the metal tables situated in front of the X-ray conveyor belt. I picked it up, and let an officer know where I found it. He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it. I love technology.

We all love technology as much as you do. But if indeed the x-ray machine technology can "verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous," why the heck do we need all the absurd and capriciously enforced rules about liquids and Freedom Baggies that cause so much difficulty for so many passengers? Something doesn't make sense here. Would you care to explain what we're missing?

You need to be careful about your propaganda, and perhaps get it cleared through the seventeen layers of your bureaucracy. In the absence of any real information about the TSA's secretive rules and procedures, we have to glean inferences from whatever little scraps you include in your propaganda. The five or six of us who are interested enough to think and analyze the scanty information will then ask embarrassing questions here.
Or maybe you don't have to clear it after all. You merely need to follow your usual policy of ignoring the questions.

And, oh yes, Happy Thanksgiving, Paul.

Submitted by Poster Paul EoS... on

Just to clarify for everyone:

There was less than 3 ounces of red liquid in the Evian bottle. And it was "disposed of," meaning thrown in the trash, i.e. not brought onto a plane. 3-1-1 still needs to be in place.

- Paul

Submitted by Anonymous on
TSOs are trained to identify threat liquids using various means. If I got into more detail about what they did beyond putting it through the X-ray, I'd be revealing too much about our procedures. I know you're going to have a field day with this one, but that's just the way it is.

Perhaps that explains why the TSO at LAX confiscated my one-ounce bottle of sunscreen that was in my freedom baggie. She told me that it wasn't in a manufacturer's labeled bottle. And after I complained that the TSA website said nothing about manufacturer's labeled bottles, she screamed loud enough to make heads turn: "You'll give me that now if you want to fly today!!!"

At the time I thought she was just being a bully and making up a "rule," because there was something about me that she didn't like or maybe just because she could. But now I understand what was going on. With her special training, she identified my sunscreen as a "threat liquid" and confiscated it to Protect Aviation. Another success for the TSA! The fact that she was completely wrong is, of course, irrelevant. As is the fact that at that moment I lost whatever respect I had for the TSA. Yes, another success!

(And, of course, you've raised the inevitable question. If TSOs can "identify threat liquids" by whatever means they have, why do we need the stupid War on Liquids and Toiletries at all? Of course, to actually answer that question would "be revealing too much about our procedures," so National Security requires that you ignore it, as usual.)
Submitted by Anonymous on

Just to clarify for everyone:

There was less than 3 ounces of red liquid in the Evian bottle. And it was "disposed of," meaning thrown in the trash, i.e. not brought onto a plane. 3-1-1 still needs to be in place.
.........................................
Shouldn't that read 100-1-1 to be accurate?

Submitted by Anonymous on

The spokes people for DFW/TSA at DFW this morning stated that ALL MEDICALLY REQUIRED LIQUIDS had to go to the family lane.

So Paul, did someone misunderstand? You did say that a person could still pick the lane they wanted in this case, didn't you?

Who's policy is correct?

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

"There was less than 3 ounces of red liquid in the Evian bottle. And it was "disposed of," meaning thrown in the trash, i.e. not brought onto a plane."

Whew! I'll sleep better tonight! I better check out the soda I have sitting in the fridge. How do I know it's really soda? Don't want my house blowing up.

"3-1-1 still needs to be in place."

Why?

Ever-conflicting info on 3 v 3.4 still abounds ...

Earl

Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

Guys I think what is important to know here is that x-ray is only one portion of the technology that we use on a daily basis. X-ray is in fact, the first thing we do with something that has been left behind, either on the public side of the checkpoint, or in the sterile side of the checkpoint. Whether its a bag, a bottle of unidentified liquid or whatever, x-ray is the first thing it goes through. Paul, thanks for sharing what you experienced at BWI today, we need more HQ people to visit our checkpoints to see how we handle situations on a day to day basis. In any event, Happy Thanks Giving to all!

TSO Tom

Submitted by Lynn on

In response to Anonymous:

But if indeed the x-ray machine technology can "verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous," why the heck do we need all the absurd and capriciously enforced rules about liquids and Freedom Baggies that cause so much difficulty for so many passengers? Something doesn't make sense here. Would you care to explain what we're missing?

You're correct - we made a mistake. As you know, Paul's new to the blog and TSA, and this error made it past me. I apologize for the error. X-ray can't detect all types of explosives, so 3-1-1 is in place until we have a technology solution. As the PHL TSO also noted, x-ray can detect certain things, and because the bottle was found at the checkpoint, the officer probably put it though the x-ray in an abundance of caution.

Sorry for the error. Thanks for your comment.

Lynn, EOS Blog Team

Submitted by Lynn on

In response to Anonymous, who asked:

"But if indeed the x-ray machine technology can "verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous," why the heck do we need all the absurd and capriciously enforced rules about liquids and Freedom Baggies that cause so much difficulty for so many passengers? Something doesn't make sense here. Would you care to explain what we're missing?"

You're not missing anything - you and Phil caught a mistake. I missed this error in Paul's post before it was posted,and I sincerely apologize for that. X-ray cannot detect all liquid explosives - that's why 3-1-1 is in place. It could be that because the bottle was found at the checkpoint that the officer put it through the x-ray just to check for anything else - in an abundance of caution.

Again, sorry for the error. Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog.

Lynn
EOS Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

"3-1-1 still needs to be in place."

No, it doesn't, Paul, and repeating your lie over and over again will not make it so. Please stop lying.

Submitted by Phil on

Lynn, what was the error in Paul's post? He simply relayed what he experienced today at the BWI checkpoint.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by RB on

You're not missing anything - you and Phil caught a mistake. I missed this error in Paul's post before it was posted,and I sincerely apologize for that. X-ray cannot detect all liquid explosives - that's why 3-1-1 is in place.

Lynn, are you claiming that xray can detect some types of liquid explosives?

Again, 3-1-1 needs to be replaced. If TSA insist on using some standard that describes how much liquids a person can bring then 100-1-1 would be more correct and honest.

3-1-1 is incorrect!

3.4-1-1 or 100-1-1.

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

Lynn: "As the PHL TSO also noted, x-ray can detect certain things, and because the bottle was found at the checkpoint, the officer probably put it though the x-ray in an abundance of caution."

Let me fix this for you:

"As the PHL TSO also noted, x-ray can detect certain things, and because the bottle was found at the checkpoint, the officer probably put it though to cover his and TSA's collective behinds."

There, it's fixed.

I'm so tired of hearing "out of an abundance of caution." It's really CYA. There is a such thing as too much ...

Earl

Submitted by Phil on

Paul wrote (emphasis added):

"He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it."

In response to my question about how the x-ray image allowed the luggage inspector to determine the threat level of the unidentified liquid, Paul responded:

"If I got into more detail about what they did beyond putting it through the X-ray, I'd be revealing too much about our procedures."

You already told us that they were able to determine using the x-ray image that the liquid was not a threat. Now you're telling us something different.

Assuming that your second, revised, description of the incident is accurate did your colleagues do whatever else they did in secrecy or there at the checkpoint where anyone watching could see what they were doing? If in secrecy, then where? If not, then why not tell us?

Paul later wrote:

"There was less than 3 ounces of red liquid in the Evian bottle."

How was it measured?

"And it was "disposed of," meaning thrown in the trash, i.e. not brought onto a plane."

They would throw anyone else's less-than-three-fluid-ounces of unidentified liquid in a greater-than-three-fluid-ounce container directly into the trash. Why was it necessary to x-ray this bottle?

"3-1-1 still needs to be in place."

Paul, you know that's not true.

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Dave on

I think the 3-1-1 rule gets here in switzerland cancelled. very interesting post. best regards from switzerland.

Submitted by Yangj08 on

"3-1-1 still needs to be in place."

Even when screening technology has been available for a few years now? The Japanese have been able to immediately implement liquids screening machines that are fast and easy as soon as the "need" arose, and the US decided that 3-1-1 wa smarter?

Submitted by Alex on

First,happy thanksgiving to everyone:)
Then, yes you are right that x-ray is the first option for checking unknown packages.
Finally, good luck with your work and my wishes for more more more and more patience:)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, here's a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving report from outside of the Propaganda Village that BWI seems to have become.

Early afternoon Wednesday, BOS, Terminal C. Only one lane was open. The non-TSA contractor at the end of the line won't let anyone into the priority line (first class, elite-status fliers) and is shuffling everybody into a single long queue.

TDCs (ID checkers) at the head of the line admitted that TSA made the call to close the priority line. And oh, by the way, the uber-hyped family lane wasn't there either. Neither the TDCs nor the contractor had a sensible answer as to why the priority line was closed on the busiest travel day of the year.

Although only one lane was open, TSA had enough staff for two apparent BDOs to walk up and down the line glaring at passengers. And TSA had enough staff to make a disbled guy with a cane and serious mobility issues miserable. He's made to walk from the x-ray belt to a far off chair, sit down and take his shoes off with great difficulty, walk back to the WTMD, walk off to the SSSSecondary pen, and walk back to the x-ray belt. I didn't see him re-shoe because I was long gone by then.

It took my wife and I 20 minutes to get through TSA, which is the longest I have waited in a security line in over a year. We were early for our flight, and the long single line was growing behind us, so it almost certainly got worse.

Boston is not some rural airport that serves a few 30-seat commuter flights per day. Terminal C serves United and JetBlue, which fly heavily loaded 757s and A320s. And only one lane was open the day before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, TSA. :(

Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

I'll say it again, X-ray is the first step in screening something that has been left behind. Its neither an attempt to identify "liquid explosives" nor "an abundance of caution" but the first step in a series of steps used to ensure that an item that has been left behind is not dangerous. Let's not beat up on Paul for a misinterpretation on his part, when he was merely attempting to relay what he had experienced on one of our checkpoints. I would like to reiterate that we would welcome more HQ visitors at our checkpoints to see first hand what goes on at our checkpoints daily.

Submitted by Gunner on

What all us poor, obviously stupid, commenters fail to realize is that this is the Mod 7(d).4 x-ray machine that is specifically designed to determine if red liquids that are less than 3 oz, or 100ml if in a French water bottle, are dangerous.
The unit is fundamentally useless for anything else, but is still a bargain as the procurement cost was only 11.2 million dollars plus a US Air Force toilet seat valued at $230,000.
What we really need to do is stop asking questions. This is the TSA, they are on a mission from God, and are not going to let the facts (or hard science) interfere with their everyone-is-guilty mentality.

Submitted by Jim Grapes on

Is it possible to hide explosives in a pumpkin pie?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Xrays only give you an idea of the density of the item being xrayed. Nothing more and nothing less. Now neutron absorption would give you an idea of what was being sampled but that is time consuming and expensive. One of the best ways of determining the contents of a bottle is to take a sample and do a spectroscopic analysis. That too is time consuming.

Better to panic I guess.

Submitted by Anonymous on

@Anonymous (11/28 9:29) - You are dead on that the X-Ray machines are completely ineffective in detecting the 'dangerousness' of a liquid.

It is actually pretty easy to do a quick spectroscopic analysis on all liquids that pass through the "security" line, with a machine that would cost about $5k in parts.

Re TSO Phil, et. al.:
Everyone who knows anything about REAL security, ignoring Shannon's maxim is the surest way to have the illusion of security without any actual security. That would pretty much describe the TSA.

Submitted by Anonymous on

TSO Tom (PHL) said...
I'll say it again, X-ray is the first step in screening something that has been left behind. Its neither an attempt to identify "liquid explosives" nor "an abundance of caution" but the first step in a series of steps used to ensure that an item that has been left behind is not dangerous. Let's not beat up on Paul for a misinterpretation on his part, when he was merely attempting to relay what he had experienced on one of our checkpoints. I would like to reiterate that we would welcome more HQ visitors at our checkpoints to see first hand what goes on at our checkpoints daily.

November 27, 2008 7:23 PM

Ok, trying to follow your logic, someone leaves behind a partially empty bottle of water. So you Xray something that is in a clear bottle, is a clear material.

Just what will the xray prove? Nothing, just nothing!

I understand that you have your "procedures".

Humans are a curious animal, except if they work for TSA!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said "Ok, trying to follow your logic, someone leaves behind a partially empty bottle of water. So you Xray something that is in a clear bottle, is a clear material.

Just what will the xray prove? Nothing, just nothing!"

Well anonymous know it all, I was in a novelty store over the weekend. They sold what looked like a regular water bottle for like $6.99 on a shelf with other magic tricks. I picked it up out of curiosity and found that in fact the entire section under the lable was a "secret compartment" with the upper & lower section of the bottle sealed off seperately from each other and both containing water. The section under the lable was hollow and when the upper & lower section were joined together the lable hid the compartment as well as the joint. The bottle looked and felt like a regular water bottle and it was almost impossible to tell there was in reality 2 distinct containers without seperating one from the other. So, yes, x-ray is useful with "transparent" containers. I'll bet at least 6-8 oz of plastic explosive could be hidden in that compartment.

They also had 2 liter soda bottles with the same type of compartment and what sure looked like Pepsi in them. Those had small containers with screw off caps in the compartment under the lable. Again, unless you picked it up and investigated it, you'd never know there was a hidden compartment.

So what if the guy put the bottle through the x-ray machine. Did it really hurt anything? We're tought that everything that comes into the checkpoint goes through x-ray. He was just responding to his training. Yet everyone on here is jumping on it like there was some cardinal sin committed! Get a life people! I can guarantee that if he had just taken it and tossed it into a garbage pail someone would be screaming that he let an item into the checkpoint without checking it first! Damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Screen goes dark and the curtains close on another act in Security Theater. I don't see myself as being that bright, but if the powers that be that are supposed to know about explosives detection get something as basic as x-rays wrong what else do they get wrong as well?

Send some of you upper management to school for a few weeks. Basic science and measurement techniques might be a good place to start.

Submitted by Bob Eucher on

This blog is getting sillier with each new post.
I now read it for humor instead of for anything sensible.

Submitted by Anonymous on
* Clarification: While X-ray can detect many things, it cannot detect all types of liquid explosives.

* Clarification: While X-ray can detect many things, it cannot detect any types of liquid explosives.

Fixed it for you.
Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

Anonymous said...
TSO Tom (PHL) said...
I'll say it again, X-ray is the first step in screening something that has been left behind. Its neither an attempt to identify "liquid explosives" nor "an abundance of caution" but the first step in a series of steps used to ensure that an item that has been left behind is not dangerous. Let's not beat up on Paul for a misinterpretation on his part, when he was merely attempting to relay what he had experienced on one of our checkpoints. I would like to reiterate that we would welcome more HQ visitors at our checkpoints to see first hand what goes on at our checkpoints daily.

November 27, 2008 7:23 PM

Ok, trying to follow your logic, someone leaves behind a partially empty bottle of water. So you Xray something that is in a clear bottle, is a clear material.

Just what will the xray prove? Nothing, just nothing!

I understand that you have your "procedures".

Humans are a curious animal, except if they work for TSA!

November 28, 2008 3:01 PM
************************************************
Just to clarify, it does not matter if it is a partially empty bottle of clear liquid (Paul said it was a red liquid) or a carry on bag, if its left behind it goes through x-ray. It also does not matter if it is on the public side of the checkpoint or the sterile side of the checkpoint, it will still be screened as stated above, because as I said, x-ray is the first of a series of steps in clearing something before releasing or throwing it away. Everybody complains about consistency, this is one instance in which consistency is shown and you still complain. I'm not following your logic either. So let me get this straight, simply throw it away without any screening, is that what you're saying guys? So a bag is left behind, and we simply put it off to the side to be picked up by the passenger when he returns? Tell me if that makes any sense to you guys.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It is possible to hide explosives in a pumpkin pie! You can hide explosives in just about anything.

Submitted by Bwi on

First of all the red liquid isnt a big deal at all, but of course procedures to have to be followed, even for something as simple as that...so good job to the screeners who have to deal with these issues every day...of course someone from HQ would think an xray would determine a liquid as an explosive..which at the current time doesnt, at least for carry on luggage..I'm sure the screeners followed it by proper procedures after though.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Oh my GOD! A first-class passenger who pays the same $4 security fee as a Southwest passenger had to wait 20 minutes in line! The longest he's had to wait all year! Oh, the HUMANITY!

As a loyal SW flier, I always get an inward laugh at the first-class types who demand to be shown to their own special line - even when that line is longer than all the others. They have their line to make them feel "Special" - and watching them makes me feel special too!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anon said: “Ok, trying to follow your logic, someone leaves behind a partially empty bottle of water. So you Xray something that is in a clear bottle, is a clear material.

Just what will the xray prove? Nothing, just nothing!

I understand that you have your "procedures".

Humans are a curious animal, except if they work for TSA!
_______________________________________________________________

The reason the bottle was X-rayed is because there could be hidden compartments in the bottle. Don’t believe me, do you remember Michael Vick’s water bottle a few years ago? If not here’s a link to one story: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/nflinsider/2007/01/police_say_water_bottl...

Here’s another link with pictures of a bottle with hidden compartments:
http://www.idaho-post.org/SpecialNotices/documents/Water_Bottle_Hidden_C...

In Vick’s case he surrendered it before coming through the checkpoint, but it is still the same scenario. If you can hide drugs, etc in the bottle you can sure enough hide an explosive.

Submitted by Phil on

Questions awaiting responses from Lynn and Paul:

On November 26, Lynn at TSA wrote:

"You're not missing anything - you and Phil caught a mistake. I missed this error in Paul's post before it was posted,and I sincerely apologize for that."

In response, on November 26, I asked:

"Lynn, what was the error in Paul's post? He simply relayed what he experienced today at the BWI checkpoint."

In the original post on November 26, Paul at TSA wrote (emphasis added):

"He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it."

In response to my question about how the x-ray image allowed the luggage inspector to determine the threat level of the unidentified liquid, Paul responded:

"If I got into more detail about what they did beyond putting it through the X-ray, I'd be revealing too much about our procedures."

You already told us that they were able to determine using the x-ray image that the liquid was not a threat. Now you're telling us something different.

Assuming that your second, revised, description of the incident is accurate did your colleagues do whatever else they did in secrecy or there at the checkpoint where anyone watching could see what they were doing? If in secrecy, then where? If not, then why not tell us?

Paul later wrote:

"There was less than 3 ounces of red liquid in the Evian bottle."

How was it measured?

"And it was "disposed of," meaning thrown in the trash, i.e. not brought onto a plane."

They would throw anyone else's less-than-three-fluid-ounces of unidentified liquid in a greater-than-three-fluid-ounce container directly into the trash. Why was it necessary to x-ray this bottle?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Al Ames on
"The reason the bottle was X-rayed is because there could be hidden compartments in the bottle. Don’t believe me, do you remember Michael Vick’s water bottle a few years ago? If not here’s a link to one story: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/nflinsider/2007/01/police_say_water_bottl...

Here’s another link with pictures of a bottle with hidden compartments:
http://www.idaho-post.org/SpecialNotices/documents/Water_Bottle_Hidden_C...

In Vick’s case he surrendered it before coming through the checkpoint, but it is still the same scenario. If you can hide drugs, etc in the bottle you can sure enough hide an explosive."

And Vick's arrest did nothing to improve security, but TSA gets to thump its chest for a drug bust. Woohoo!

You can't use that logic and poo poo the idea securing baggage (not saying you personally did). If you're going to argue that "false containers" are a threat to security because of what they can hide, you can't ignore the fact that not securing luggage means that something can be introduced if something can be stolen. So why are liquids a big deal but the other gaping hole is ignored?

The liquid lunacy wasn't a big deal before 8/2006 and such containers existed before then. Planes didn't fall out of the sky. Don't you think that you guys are overreacting just a little too much (as usual)? Or that you guys REALLY have an overactive imagination?

I think you guys forget that solid explosives are a lot more stable and easier to get past security than a liquid one would be ... yet we don't have solid madness like we do with the liquid lunacy.

Al
Submitted by Phil on

Lynn, Paul? We're still waiting for you to respond to simple questions asked six days ago.

Lynn: What was the error in Paul's post that you mentioned? He simply relayed what he experienced at the BWI checkpoint.

Paul: Assuming that your second, revised, description of the incident is accurate, did your colleagues do whatever else they did to analyze the liquid somewhere in privacy or there at the checkpoint where anyone watching could see what they were doing? If in privacy, then where? If not, then why not just tell us what anyone standing there would have seen? How did you measure the quantity of the liquid in the bottle? TSA's airport checkpoint luggage checkers would throw anyone else's less-than-three-fluid-ounces of unidentified liquid in a greater-than-three-fluid-ounce container directly into the trash if that person tried to carry it through your checkpoint. Why was it necessary to x-ray this bottle?

--
Phil
Add your own questions at TSAFAQ.net

Submitted by Anonymous on
Posted by anonymous:
Oh my GOD! A first-class passenger who pays the same $4 security fee as a Southwest passenger had to wait 20 minutes in line! The longest he's had to wait all year! Oh, the HUMANITY!

As a loyal SW flier, I always get an inward laugh at the first-class types who demand to be shown to their own special line - even when that line is longer than all the others. They have their line to make them feel "Special" - and watching them makes me feel special too!


The loyalty benefits, such as priority security, boarding, and seating, I get from my preferred carrier are something I pay for with that loyalty. The airline has put a priority line at that terminal, and TSA shouldn't be fouling up that agreement. That relationship is between me and the airline, not TSA.

For someone who flies 12-24 round-trips per year, being able to show up 1 hour before a flight instead of 2 adds up to a lot of time savings.


That TSA had only one line open the day before Thanksgiving says a lot, and like I said, the line seemed about to get much longer after I arrived. That TSA, which has spent the last month touting its self-select lanes, would choose to shut down existing priority lanes and shut down its self-select lanes on such a busy day says a lot.

I'm happy for your relationship with Southwest, and I'll thank you for tolerating my relationship with my carrier. IMO, Southwest rewards waiting in line: you check-in at exactly 24-hours to get into a good group, you arrive early at the airport if you want to check a bag, you arrive early to get in line for boarding to get a good seat (prior to the current within-group numbering), etc. That's fine for some, just like lining up at the store at 3 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to save $50 is fine for some. But for people like me who detest waiting in line, I'd rather go with another option. And TSA needs to keep its grubby power-grabbing hands out of those personal choices.
Submitted by TSO Tom (PHL) on

"He quickly placed the bottle into a little bowl and sent it through the X-ray machine. Based on the image displayed on our end, the officers was able to verify that the liquid was not in fact dangerous and disposed of it."
************************************************
If I can interject in an to attempt to answer Phil's confusion about this statement, here is how (based on what I know of TSA procedures) I read this statement:
The officer placed the item into a bowl, sent it through x-ray, did not see any threat images on the screen, then followed existing liquid threat measures to determine the liquid was not a threat and it was disposed of.For those of us who do this on a daily basis we know what those liquid threat measures are, and how to perform them, for the general public, this statement could cause confusion.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Al Ames,

I’ll try and give you my take:

I brought up Vick’s bottle in response to the earlier post about why you would x-ray a clear bottle, not to thump TSA’s chest for them. Whether or not it improved security is not for me to decide but it shows me that at least on that day the TSA personnel had their heads screwed on correctly.

The way that I understand it the current liquids policy came about because of the 2006 London “plot” to use juice drink bottles to sneak liquid explosives past security ala the PAL 434 Bojinka plot. I did a Google search on that and there is a lot of info on that attack. I also Googled liquids explosives and came across an interesting video courtesy of the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7536167.stm
I’m not sure about you but it seemed to me that the bottle that guy in the video was using was sure stable enough to carry from the mixing table to the fuselage. Call it “Liquids Lunacy” or whatever you want to but it sure seems real enough to me.

I won’t debate you that solid explosives are more stable than other types, but the current technology can find the solid explosives well enough by looking at the density of materials but it’s liquids that gives it problems: http://www.smithsdetection.com/eng/transportation_passenger_checkpoint.php.

I have not flown through Japan so I cannot speak for the technology that they have over there, but it would seem to me that TSA would not ignore technology that Japan has if it worked. Whether it does or not or whether TSA has had enough time to thoroughly test that equipment I cannot say but I hardly think that TSA would not buy it right off the shelf if it worked seeing that the liquids policy has to be at the top of passenger complaints.

Since you brought up checked luggage I think that it was cheaper for TSA to take care of the liquids threat first (to me both equally a threat). If I remember correctly in the beginning TSA used to put a “zip” type of closure on checked bags I had a few on mine. I think that they were blue and had some type of numbers on them. They were pretty easy to take off if I recall correctly. I would have to guess that it became too cost prohibitive to keep using those. I would like to know where the numbers are for TSA specific complaints stemming from theft out of checked luggage, maybe in TSA’s eyes it’s cheaper to pay for missing items than to provide a securing mechanism? I agree with you it is a huge gaping hole in security but I don’t have a good solution maybe go back to the “zip” type of closures? Wasn't it Trollkiller that came up with another strap closure for bags?

Submitted by Anonymous on

If you as a passenger can remove this closure nothing is stopping a bad person from doing it and adding something to the bag. If your bag has a zipper then it is never secure with a lock or without a lock. Nothing can fix this except eyes watching via video cam or right there where the action happens. Then you would have to pay for that though.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why is pie exempt from liquid and gel restrictions?

Is this a holiday-specific exemption, or an ongoing change in policy?

Is it because pies pose no danger? Neither do any other liquids TSA has barred citizens from traveling with.

Is it because pies are a food item? Then will TSA stop barring bottled beverages, peanut butter, and other foodstuffs that pose no danger to anyone from planes?

Is it because barring pies from flights would be pointless, stupid, and do nothing to make anyone safer? Neither do TSA's other liquid policies.

What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

"If you as a passenger can remove this closure nothing is stopping a bad person from doing it and adding something to the bag. If your bag has a zipper then it is never secure with a lock or without a lock. Nothing can fix this except eyes watching via video cam or right there where the action happens. Then you would have to pay for that though."

We're already spending upwards of $7 billion a year on security. We're already paying for it! Why not divert resources from the carnival and show to provide some real security?

The money's there. TSA needs to stop wasting it on things like new uniforms and propaganda videos.

Earl

Submitted by Earl Pitts on

"What recourse does a citizen have if a TSO and that TSO's supervisor decide not to let a pie through screening?"

A gift certificate for a pie at Marie Callenders would be a good start. :D

Earl

Submitted by Yangj08 on

"the current technology can find the solid explosives well enough by looking at the density of materials but it’s liquids that gives it problems"
Which is why you have to use something completely different. Japan wasn't afraid to do this. The US didn't feel like putting up the liquids screeners and apparently insisted on waiting for an improvement to existing technology.

"I have not flown through Japan so I cannot speak for the technology that they have over there, but it would seem to me that TSA would not ignore technology that Japan has if it worked."
That's how things SHOULD be...

"Whether it does or not or whether TSA has had enough time to thoroughly test that equipment I cannot say"
Really? The technology behind the liquids screener Japan uses has been around since late 2003, and has been continually improved since then.

"but I hardly think that TSA would not buy it right off the shelf if it worked seeing that the liquids policy has to be at the top of passenger complaints."
Unfortunately it's not happening. Compare the reactions of Japan and the US. Japan introduced screeners. The US decided to completely ban large liquids.

Submitted by Anonymous on

FYI,

Liquid ban went into effect August 10th, 2006 not Sept. 2006. Thanks.

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