Pocket Knife Blues

Remember the days when a nail clipper was just a
nail clipper? Before we became so afraid of terrorists that you could keep a neat little pocket knife on your key
chain just in case you had to get rid of a painful hangnail or cut open a CD? I remember those days, and I tend to
be reminded of them every time I go to the airport and lose another Swiss Army Knife. The
LA Times
a piece on what happens in these situations…and for the most part confirms that you are more or less
screwed. But help may be at hand. Read on.


Since the post-September 11 FAA crackdown on flying with objects of potential harm
(OPH), I have personally lost four really nice pocket knives. Never mind the blades on these knives are about an inch
and a half long and that trained terrorists could likely cause the same amount of bodily damage to someone with the
edge of a credit card. I’m not alone. Boy, am I not alone. In the last three years, the federal Transportation Security
Administration has detected more than 17 million knives, scissors, firearms and other forbidden items at the nation’s
428 airports. Despite frequent public reminders, monthly figures aren’t declining. The TSA in July intercepted a record
690,692 banned items.


But such are the rules these days and I guess we have to live with them. So what if, like me, you often find yourself
in the airport with a OPH? What can you do? Here are your options:


1. Put it in a checked bag

2. Give it to a relative or friend who’s seeing you off

3. Take it back to the car (uh, if you HAVE brought a car)

4. Ship it home

Pretty much all of these options suck. Chances are, if you’ve been nabbed, you’ve just reached the head of the
security line where you’ve been waiting for the last half hour and the last thing you want to do is go back and check
it, find a mailbox, envelope, etc. So usually, like me, you hand it over, where the OPH will be dumped into a bin with
the thousands of other (arguably) dangerous items and sent to some OPH netherworld.

Someone needs to solve this problem. Turns out, in some places, a remedy is at hand. Several companies are providing
mail services at airports to mail stuff home. GREAT! Among them is
Checkpoint Mailers, which is operating in several airports around
the country (sadly, not yet JFK or La Guardia). It is an idea that has been needed for a long time. Too bad it has
taken this long, and too bad more airports are not yet served.

Hopefully, more will be.