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Grenades: A Refresher Course on Checkpoint Etiquette

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009
grenade photo

Last July, Blogger Bob wrote a post: "Can I Take my Hand Grenade on the Plane?" Some wondered aloud if we had to state such an obvious thing, because seriously, who would think they could take a grenade on a plane?

Well...

Over the weekend, a grenade was found in a passenger’s carry-on bag in Phoenix . At first, the passenger said he didn’t know the grenade was in his bag. Then he said he left it unattended curbside and someone could have put it in there. Later, while talking to law enforcement officers, he admitted it was given to him by his grandfather from WWII.

There’s been quite a few reports of grenades found at checkpoints lately, so I did some research to find out just how many had been caught by officers since Blogger Bob’s July post. The answer: 21.

Of the other 20 or so hand grenades found, here are some highlights:

One was found hidden in a stuffed animal. The passenger said the stuffed animal was a gift and had no idea anything was hidden in it. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving...

One was the popular gag-gift plaque that says: “Complaint Department: Take a Number.” Problem is, in the X-ray, the most notable part of the image is - you guessed it - the grenade.

A Pittsburgh passenger who packed an inert hand grenade in his bag as a present for his son said he has never flown before and had no idea he couldn’t take the inert grenade on the plane.

A law enforcement officer from Canada visiting the US for a convention had a pepper spray grenade, flash bang grenade and a smoke grenade in his bag.

A passenger who said he was previously a member of the military stated that the grenade found in his bag was a souvenir.

A military reservist said the grenade found in her bag was a gift for her brother.

The lesson to be learned here is that even if it’s a gift (gag or otherwise), souvenir or inert, putting a grenade in your carry-on or checked bag is a no-no. I would also suggest not packing the new novelty grenade MP3 player in your carry-on or checked bags. Not only will you be delayed and possibly miss your flight, but you could also end up spending some quality time with law enforcement officers.

As we like to say when giving packing advice, when in doubt, leave it out. And it can’t hurt to do a last minute double check of your bag to make sure there are no grenades, guns or other prohibited items in it.

Safe travels,

Lynn
TSA Blog Team

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Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

So basically TSA will not allow any object that appears to be a grenade onto a plane, regardless if it is actually dangerous or not. Pretty much the same standard used for liquids.

Bravo for continuing to protect us from objects that can't harm us.

Submitted by TSM, Been on

Quoted:
" Anonymous said...
So basically TSA will not allow any object that appears to be a grenade onto a plane, regardless if it is actually dangerous or not. Pretty much the same standard used for liquids.

Bravo for continuing to protect us from objects that can't harm us.

October 14, 2009 11:15 AM
-----------------------------

So, since we can't tell it's live on xray, we should "allow" this item (even though it's "harmless") to completely shut down the airport, summon LEOs, bomb squad, etc. and then say "Oh. OK, It's inert. Go on your way now."
OR, we could ban all grenades, live or not. Oh, wait. We already do that!

Stupidity reigns here.

Submitted by Bob on

Bad example of "other prohibited items": For U.S. citizens, guns are allowed in checked baggage if unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided case, and if legal in both origin and destination (e.g. no handgun mags over 10 rounds in CA, no hollow point ammo in NJ). Gun laws vary by state, but please update the post with a link to TSA's page on packing when packing.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I note that the article doesn't say what happened to the people who got caught.

In particular, the Canadian LEO with three LIVE grenades. He was the only one with an actual dangerous device. What happened with him?

Submitted by Randy on

@TSM, Been.... said...

What did you do with all of these grenades?

If you can't tell from the xray if they are live or not, don't you assume that they are and call the bomb squad to dispose of?

Do you simply confiscate or throw away the the novelty greades?

Just Wondering,
Randy

Submitted by RB on

Seems TSA has once again censored a question asking for clarification of a TSA procedure that did not in any way violate the posting standards.

Do you TSA employees really think your defending the Constitution?

Submitted by Tech Blog on

OK so were not allowed grenades. What about BB guns?

Submitted by Anonymous on

"So basically TSA will not allow any object that appears to be a grenade onto a plane, regardless if it is actually dangerous or not. Pretty much the same standard used for liquids.

Bravo for continuing to protect us from objects that can't harm us."

October 14, 2009 11:15 AM

**********************************
Are you serious? You can hijack a plane with an inert grenade. Wave it around and you can't tell the difference.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Years ago a TSA woman got upset over a souvenir cartridge on a keychain. The primer had been removed and the keychain went through a hole that had been drilled in the case. Didn't matter, it appeared to be a live cartridge to her and that was all that mattered. I thought the whole thing was kinda silly, really, but they're just trying to do their jobs, I guess.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Bravo for continuing to protect us from objects that can't harm us.

October 14, 2009 11:15 AM

TSM, Been... took the words right out of my mouth :). Maybe we can give anon the job of pulling the pins off of all grenades found. sound good anon? easy money right?

Submitted by Lynn on

Bob,

Point noted. When I was writing the piece, I was thinking of the folks who claim they forgot the gun was in their bag or they didn't know it was in their bag when a security officer found it. We'll add the link as you noted.

Thanks for reading the blog and for your comment.

Submitted by Lynn on

In response to Anonymous:

So basically TSA will not allow any object that appears to be a grenade onto a plane, regardless if it is actually dangerous or not. Pretty much the same standard used for liquids.

When an officer sees what appears to be a grenade in a bag in the X-ray, they don't know if it's inert or not. They follow procedures to determine what the item is and ensure the safety of people in the vicinity.

As for your point about whether the item is dangerous or not, there have been robberies, carjackings and even plane hijackings where people have used fake or inert threat objects to get what they want. That's why replica or inert grenades are also prohibited.

Submitted by Chris Boyce on

Congratulations, Blogdad Bob, you've snagged the low-hanging fruit.

Now, tell us, why did you not release the Caffritz checkpoint video to the newspaper reporter?

Better yet, let's have Kristen respond...

Submitted by Phil on

Lynn, I don't know how you define "grenade" but I think that something which does not explode, like an MP3 player, is not a grenade.

How do you define grenade? How about a small, squarish, plastic device with an LCD display, a headphone jack, and a few buttons, that explodes shortly after pressing and releasing a button? Is that a grenade or an MP3 player? What about the same thing, except it's metal, ovoid with ridges, doesn't ever explode, and plays music shortly after you press and release a button?

Also, last year in the comments in response to TSA's "Pay For Performance; Good For Security" post, on July 23, 2008, I wrote:

"1. Do the electronic strip-search machines (both backscatter imaging and "millimeter wave" versions) show operators only still images, or animated/video images?

"2. If the latter, where can we see a sample of what that video looks like?"

Two days later, you (Lynn at TSA) quoted me then responded:

"It's a still image, not video."

However, recently, I saw a video of a September 24, 2009, KSL-TV news broadcast about Congressman Jason Chafetz of Utah and his experience with TSA staff at a TSA airport checkpoint. From 1:09 to 1:13 into the piece, we are shown a computer monitor displaying an image that looks similar to those you've offered as examples of the MMW machine output, except that it is not a still image, it is an animated loop. Picking a single image out of this video that operators apparently see is rather disingenuous of you, as it allows the viewer to perceive far less detail than the rotating 3D view does.

One of the following must be the case: 1) you were mistaken when you wrote that the image operators see is still, 2) that which is shown to operators has changed since you wrote this, or 3) the video in the KSL broadcast was not representative of what your operators see. Which is the case?

--
Phil

Submitted by Anonymous on

Was any of these persons jailed? If not, this is pointless - the real terrorist would just keep trying to walk through security with the grenade until it went undetected. We know that the performance rates for these detections are low, so it shouldn´t take too many tries...

Submitted by Anonymous on

I wonder if you have any comments about "“Do I have the right to refuse this search?” (http://bit.ly/4AOmD0) It's another point of view about airport searches.

Submitted by Madigan McGillicuddy on

Personally, I think anything that remotely like an explosive device should be banned on flights. Frankly, I'm surprised to see that there is anyone who feels otherwise.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Since people have made replicas from soap and used them to take hostages, will you ban soap?

Or is this banning of non-weapons just another sham security theatre farce?

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

Puppy post.

Back to the war on water and the strip search pedophile machines.

Submitted by Ayn R Key on

What happened to links to older posts? You only show about a dozen. You no longer have links that a person could follow to posts a year or more old. You used to have a list of months one could click on to get to the old stuff.

What's the matter, was it embarassing that people could go back to the beginning and see that you were ducking the same questions then as you do now?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Lynn,

In the previous inert grenade post, Blogger Bob stated "Please leave them at home or mail them to your destination."

I am curious as to why the TSA decided these objects were likely to cause airport personnel to panic, but it was OK to send the same objects to the post office.

I know the postal service has tried unsuccessfully to get these banned in the past.

Did the TSA get USPS feedback or authorization to make this public recommendation?

Submitted by Anonymous on

It has now been 24 days since Congressman Jason Chaffetz's run-in with the TSA in Salt Lake City. Surely this is a more pressing issue than another "grenade post."

By the way, the TSA has still not released the tape that would either confirm the accusations made against Rep. Chaffetz or prove that the TSA is lying. Guess why? "The TSA has not yet denied access to the video, although Chaffetz says he was told the agency would be hesitant to release images of checkpoints because of security concerns."

Haven't you folks ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?

Submitted by TSM/West on

Anon said
So basically TSA will not allow any object that appears to be a grenade onto a plane, regardless if it is actually dangerous or not. Pretty much the same standard used for liquids.

Bravo for continuing to protect us from objects that can't harm us.

-----------------------------------
You have to be kidding me. You don't see a problem with any replica? Thank God you're not the one who makes the decision.

Submitted by Earth_Mommy on

So, yesterday in Atlanta, when a friend's baby's pacifier clip set off the metal detector and TSA agents TOOK her baby out of her SITE without her consent, they were looking for a hand grenade in his nappy???!!!! TSA, you've gone too far and Bush isn't in office to protect your facist ways anylonger. You do not take babies and then threaten to contact authorities when the mother has a panic attack in the middle of the airport! Shame on you all, if this is your policy!

Submitted by RB on

TSA impressing the public (again)!

"The female TSA agent, who had been standing there the entire time said to me, “You need to adjust your attitude and do as you are told.”


So is this how an encounter with TSA is suppose to go down?

How did TSA get to be this way?

Submitted by RB on

Bob, won't your handlers let you talk about some subjects?

How about Congressman Chaffetz?

Why did TSA refuse to release the video under a FOIA request if it shows the congressman at fault?

What is TSA hiding?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Yeah, it isn't a good idea to take grenades aboard a plane. Or snakes, for that matter. Congrats to TSA folks for figuring this out.

Now, what's this story coming out of Atlanta of TSA grabbing a baby from its mother? That might not be a good idea.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I take you've all seen this story about a mother who had her baby taken away from her by TSA agents in Atlanta because of a metal pacifier clip. If not, here it is:


I've gotten it about 3 times on my Facebook feed today. Give it another few days she'll be on the Today Show

Submitted by Lynn on

@Phil:

Lynn, I don't know how you define "grenade" but I think that something which does not explode, like an MP3 player, is not a grenade.

To answer your question, I'll revert back to the earlier comment I made in response to the person who asked why we care about inert grenades - they look just like real grenades. The MP3 player is actually an inert grenade that has been made into a MP3 player. We posted a picture where the wires are sticking out, but when closed, it looks just like grenade.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Some lady posts about TSA taking her baby and people automaticly beleive it.

TSA. Will you respond to this?

I hope you didn't really take her baby.

Submitted by Anonymous on

A suggestion: perhaps your HR department needs to review why it seems to be hiring so many people on power trips, particularly in the Atlanta area. I believe that your agents were guilty of interference of custody at the least, and possibly kidnapping, when you recently removed a toddler from his mother's view. Because of a pacifier clip, which the mother pointed out and offered to be rescreened. The same story all the other folks are posting about. Hopefully wiser heads up the chain will deal with these people and show them the door. This is NOT the kind of publicity the TSA needs, nor does it build passenger trust.

Perhaps you can start by having all your employees review your agency's statements on the TSA website under "Traveling with Kids":

"We will not ask you to do anything that will separate you from your child or children.

We specially train our Security Officers and they understand your concern for your children. They will approach your children gently and treat them with respect. If your child becomes uncomfortable or upset, security officers will consult you about the best way to relieve your child's concern.

At the X-Ray
Ask a Security Officer for help gathering your bags and child-related equipment, if you need it.

Looks like your own agents violated your rules and perhaps broke Georgia state laws.

Submitted by Lynn on
However, recently, I saw a video of a September 24, 2009, KSL-TV news broadcast about Congressman Jason Chafetz of Utah and his experience with TSA staff at a TSA airport checkpoint. From 1:09 to 1:13 into the piece, we are shown a computer monitor displaying an image that looks similar to those you've offered as examples of the MMW machine output, except that it is not a still image, it is an animated loop. Picking a single image out of this video that operators apparently see is rather disingenuous of you, as it allows the viewer to perceive far less detail than the rotating 3D view does.

One of the following must be the case: 1) you were mistaken when you wrote that the image operators see is still, 2) that which is shown to operators has changed since you wrote this, or 3) the video in the KSL broadcast was not representative of what your operators see. Which is the case?

None of the above. There are front and back images taken of the passenger in the machine, and what was shown on the screen in the newsclip was the rotation from the front to the back image.
Submitted by Anonymous on

Would love to see a response to this

Apologizing for posting in this thread, but the only feedback link I could find, was for TSA in general, not this blog.

Submitted by Rick on

Yeah, be sure not to take anything harmful on, like firearms or babies.


Who polices these police? They're doing a terrible job.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"There are front and back images taken of the passenger in the machine, and what was shown on the screen in the newsclip was the rotation from the front to the back image."

And you know this how?

And why does Bob refuse to say whether the strip-search images posted on this blog and at checkpoints where TSA wants to take naked pictures of children are of the same size and resolution as those seen by the operator of the device?

Submitted by Anonymous on

So how can someone move a grenade-shaped object from one place to another if neither in checked or carried on luggage? Do you think the USPS want to take it? Do people have to travel by bus? Any why the treat to spend "quality time" with law enforcement.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Well, I know I don't want to travel amongst any dimwits that think that carrying anything resembling a grenade with them in a good idea. Ship that crap UPS or something, or source one locally at your destination if you really need one.

Good on you guys, TSA.

Submitted by JoshH on

You guys are magnificently arrogant and snarky in the tone and manner of your posts; sure, it's unprofessional, but it makes you great guests on The O'Really Factor. Glad to see you're using all of the weapons to defeat "them there terr'ists."

Submitted by Phil on

Thanks, Lynn. What about the animated vs. still image on the MMW machines?

--
Phil

Submitted by Phil on

Oops, I missed Lynn's response earlier because she didn't attribute the question to me, so the answer wasn't found by a search for my name.

Lynn, what was shown on television is clearly an animated image of the subject of a TSA search with your electronic strip-search machines. I understand that it doesn't show the subject in motion, but it allows the operator to rotate the subject -- not just moving a still image, but viewing a series of many images -- providing much more detail than would be available if the operator were simply viewing two still images.

Although it would be impossible to represent this additional detail in print, when you show examples on the Web, I can think of no reason to show only the two stills instead of the animated image other than to misrepresent the level of detail available.

It's dishonest to say that the operator is able to view only two still images of the strip-search subject. You're looking under our clothes, constructing a three-dimensional image of us, then rotating that image on a computer screen viewed by your machine operator.

-
Phil

Submitted by Anonymous on

Where exactly does TSA draw the line between reality and the mythical never-ending possibilities that could harm people?

Terrorists don't need to get past security with a bomb. They could do any number of things that we are not protected against. And here we are being stopped and hassled for carrying toys that LOOK threatening. It is a waste of money and resources.

Submitted by Greyfoxisa on

Well your incorrect

"TSM, Been.... said...

So, since we can't tell it's live on xray, we should "allow" this item (even though it's "harmless") to completely shut down the airport, summon LEOs, bomb squad, etc. and then say "Oh. OK, It's inert. Go on your way now."
OR, we could ban all grenades, live or not. Oh, wait. We already do that!

Stupidity reigns here."

You can tell it is a dud due to the fact that the bottom is drilled out, you can unscrew the firing mechanism and see that it is a dud, real hard to tell that it is inert, NOT. If TSA had any real sense of security they would be more worried about the lobbies, large numbers of people in a concentrated waiting area to go through the security check point, all clumped together back to back, NOW that is idiotic.

Submitted by Julia on

Silly!!! Some thing seem so obvious. Yet, have to be stated. (like no grenades, please)

Submitted by Anonymous on

Google "papercraft grenade" for some prohibited paper.

If replicas are a serious bomb threat, then so all the electronic car locks, and any wifi or bluetooth enabled trigger.

Submitted by GSOLTSO on

Even an inert grenade can present a threat on an airplane. If you are uninformed as to whether it is a real grenade, then you may take some action that is considered bad - such as stomping the spit out of someone weilding said "fake" grenade to keep them from using it. It could result in a scrum on an airplane at 35k feet - that is never good, and it tends to make the pilots fairly nervous, not to mention Joe Passenger and the flight crew in the cabin area. No replicas should be allowed in the airplane.

West
TSA Blog Team

Submitted by Anonymous on

Really? Because a TOY grenade is such a threat to national security.

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