in Ramblings, Tech

Airport Security Misinformation

With today’s announcement of new travel restrictions, there has understandably been a lot of confusion.

This morning on the Today show I heard a brief mention that all electronics are now banned from carryon items. This information persisted throughout the day, and the local NBC station here even did an extensive piece on this fact during the evening news.

According to the TSA’s own FAQ about the new restrictions, this is not true.

I’ve also seen news coverage repeatedly state that travelers will be expected to taste the few liquids still allowed (baby bottles, for example) in front of security screeners. Again, the TSA’s FAQ says this isn’t true.

I’m inclined to cut the morning news some slack, as the information was new and everyone was still processing it. But by the evening, some basic fact checking really should have been accomplished.

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  1. I think part of the confusion arose from the fact that carry-on electronics were in fact banned for flights originating in the UK. Some of the news networks just got their information mixed up, I think, and assumed that applied to our side of the pond as well.

    I personally hope this liquid ban is short-lived. I’m way beyond tired of taking my shoes off every time I fly, and if they keep this liquid thing up indefinitely, it’s going to make me and a lot of other people pretty mad. I saw one congressman quoted today as saying essentially “it’s the end of carry-on baggage as we know it.” I really hope he’s wrong about that, because I absolutely will not check a bag unless the stuff I’m taking with me just won’t fit into one carry-on. I really hate waiting around the carousel for 45 minutes after my flight, when I could otherwise be on my way to my “final destination” (is there any other kind?).

    I have been mulling the idea of getting my private pilot’s license for a few months now, mostly because I think it would be a fun hobby and a nice way to travel on my own. If these security restrictions continue tightening for commercial flights, I just may do that sooner than I thought.

  2. Oh, something else I forgot to mention: it’s now being reported that passengers will have to be screened a second time at the boarding gate to make sure they aren’t bringing any liquids on board that they may have picked up since the security checkpoint (like from concourse restaurants, or your friendly airside liquid explosive shop). That’s something that I don’t see going over very well with the general public, either, and seems like a logistical nightmare. I remember just after 9/11 when they used to do random secondary screenings at the boarding gate, and how annoying that was. I guess we’re going to have to get used to it again, at least for a little while. But it already takes about 20 minutes to get everyone on board a mid-sized plane. I wonder how much extra time will be spent on this secondary screening?

  3. yeah i’m taking two trips by air next month, and also hate checking a bag if at all possible to avoid it. But at the same time I really don’t want to go without sunscreen and aftershave…

    Re-checking people at the gate seems pointless – if security does it’s job, you shouldn’t be able to buy anything hazardous between existing security and getting on the plane anyway.

    I guess i just have to hope things calm down.

  4. TV news is a lousy way to get information in a situation like this — they love the hysteria too much. I flew from Birmingham to San Francisco via Atlanta on Thursday and didn’t run into any problems from security. In Birmingham they were doing the hand checking of carryons at the gate, but most of their flights were still leaving on time. In Atlanta they were not doing that checking and I couldn’t detect any impact in terms of delays at all (they were dealing with some weather delays, but that’s not unusual for Atlanta.)