Airport Security: Snowglobes, Shoes and Starbucks

Don’t include a snowglobe in your carry-on luggage at the airport.

A mother of two young children learned the hard way at Philadelphia International Airport that such a deliberate act is unacceptable. At the security check, she went into a nasty tirade directed at the Transportation Security Administration agent.

“Are you personally going to give me the $40?” she asked.

“No, I’m not giving you $40,” the agent responded. I never found out why she wanted $40 for a snowglobe.

On the other side of me, a man in his late 20s was sitting in a chair facing two TSA agents. He was shaking, too obviously nervous.

“I swear. I just. I. I don’t know how that got in there,” he kept telling them. I never found out what “that” was, because I thought my attempt at trying to overhear any more of the conversation might be perceived as a threat.

Airport security is supposed to make us feel better. But sometimes, it appears to have the opposite effect. This is not because of the work of the TSA agents, but rather the, dare I say, outdated security policies.

I hadn’t flown in four-and-a-half years before taking a strip to Seattle this week. Waiting in the screening line for 30 minutes, I watched a series of TSA-commissioned videos that I’m sure are seen in airports across the nation. They show a woman dressed as a TSA agent (whether she actually is one, I guess we’ll never know) explaining why you can only carry bottles of liquid in increments of 3 oz. on a plane. Why you must remove your shoes for security sweeps. And why you must show identification before boarding.

The ID part is fairly logical. Moving on…

The 3-oz. rule is questionable. A bottle of water, a cup of coffee, a snowglobe are not and should not be considered threats. OK, so some angry chemistry teacher could pack a lethal combination of explosives and wreak havoc. But you’d think as that chemistry teacher puts the chemicals on the conveyor belt for screening, some X-ray would allow for a red flag.

After all, they have body scanners that allow TSA agents to see you naked. Why not some infrared system to identify what’s a liquid someone might drink and what’s not?

The TSA agent in the video says we must remove our shoes because terrorists love to use shoes to store improvised explosive devices. That is one term that I, for one, don’t want to hear before boarding a plane. She also tells us there are new scanners in the works that will one day eliminate the need for flyers to remove their shoes for security.

So if that’s the case, why can’t we develop something that lets me bring my Starbucks vanilla latte on board, as well? I assumed incorrectly – there is no Starbucks in PHL.

I empathize with the snowglobe victim, but I don’t blame the TSA. Rules are rules. They’re paid to enforce them, and you basically agree to comply with them when you purchase an airline ticket.

So maybe the TSA is actively trying to make the screening process more convenient for us all through one day allowing us to keep our shoes on and take our drinks on board.

Or maybe they just want to build their collection of snowglobes.

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2 thoughts on “Airport Security: Snowglobes, Shoes and Starbucks

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