TSA snags child’s Christmas present: Think like TSA when packing your carry on

Think like TSA when you pack your Christmas presents for your flight home. If you don’t think like TSA, your child may end up losing a gift. It almost happened to us.

In the past, I have said goodbye to a full bottle of suntan lotion and a corkscrew with a knife attached. Those were not fun to lose, but these were items that ended up in our carry on bag as we hurried. I’ve known about snow globes for awhile so I never would forget about one of those.

Still, to not be like me, don’t pack in a hurry. Sift through that carry on bag one more time. Don’t think logically; think like TSA. Items that may seem harmless to you can cause TSA’s warning bells to ring. This summer, as Scott posted, one boy lost a Star Wars toy from Disneyland at a security checkpoint.

In general, when it comes to TSA’s warning bells, I’m not one to argue, but when it came to one of my son’s Christmas presents, I went head to head with Mr. TSA Man. I tried to stay polite even though I was mad enough I could have spit.

Here’s how it went down and who won. Will a certain present be under the tree this year?

As a last minute shopping trip the day we flew out of the airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico this summer, I headed to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and my favorite gift shop. There, among other things, I bought a hand-painted, flimsy bow and arrow set for my son for a Christmas present.

Because both could be easily snapped in two–the arrow was more of a stick really with merely a suggestion of a tip, I decided to keep the set in the shopping bag and use the bag as a carry on. I had “toy” on the brain. I did not have my TSA thinking cap turned on.

As soon as Mr. TSA saw the bow and arrow through the monitor of the X-ray machine, he saw weapon. Of course he would. He’s TSA Man.

TSA Man pulled the bow and arrow out of the bag.

“It’s a child’s toy.” I tried to be reasonable in my tone.

TSA Man said, “It’s a bow and arrow.”

By this time the bow and arrow was on the counter in plain sight. My son looked happy to see it. “Is that for me?” he said. There went a Christmas surprise.

“Could you remove the arrow so we could take the bow?” I asked TSA man, thinking this might be a solution to keep us both satisfied. I really liked the bow.

“No,” said TSA man.

“Why not?” By this time, TSA man was really getting on my nerves. I was trying to be helpful. He didn’t seem to care that he ruined a perfectly good Christmas present that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

TSA Man: “Because it’s a bow and arrow.”

At this point, I may have said “That’s dumb.” I did say, “If you take off the arrow, wouldn’t it be just a bow?”

“No,” he said. “It’s still a bow and arrow.”

Recognizing the futility of the power of logic, I said, “Then I’ll check it.”

I had a carry on that the set would fit in and I’m stubborn.

I reached for the bow and arrow.

TSA Man: “You can’t touch it. I have to carry it.”


I waltzed toward the terminal door that lead out of security with my carry on and with TSA Man following close behind. He handed me the child’s bow and arrow once I was on the main terminal side of the door.

Ever polite, I did say “Thanks,” although by this time I did not sound pleasant.

The bow and arrow set made it home safely. Checking it last minute cost $15 dollars–twice as much as I paid for it. Oh, but keeping that bow and arrow set was so worth it.

This is a lesson in having a carry-on you can check if need be and enough time before your flight to do a last minute check in.

By the way, there were three wooden tomahawk toys in the shopping bag as well. I guess tomahawks aren’t weapons.

The bow and arrow set is not going under the Christmas tree. My son already has it.

When you are packing, remember to think, what would TSA man think about this? If you’re not sure, check out this list of prohibited items from the TSA website. Also, here’s the information about traveling with food and gifts.

Southwest and FedEx planes bump wings

A Southwest Airlines jet bound for Albuquerque clipped wings with a Fed Ex cargo jet Sunday at the Salt Lake City Airport. A spokesperson for Southwest said the jet was about to pull back from the gate when it was bumped by the cargo plane. The pilots had not yet started the engine when they felt the “jolt” of the impact, which sliced off a 6-foot section of the plane’s wingtip.

No one was injured, though there was some initial confusion as to what caused what one passenger said felt like “a mini-earthquake”. The passengers were able to move to another plane for take off; the affected jet was repaired and put back in service.

While on the ground collisions between planes are rare, they do happen. A different Southwest plane clipped another passenger jet with its wing back in March.

Gadlinks for Friday 11.27.2009

It’s Black Friday! I hope you all survived the mall madness. We can look forward to more Christmas lights and even more shopping deals through the weekend and then Cyber Monday! It will be an exciting few days for sure. Here are a few exciting travel reads from across the web, too.

‘Til Monday, have a great weekend. Don’t spend too much money!

More Gadlinks here.

Understanding the wild west: Visiting a Native American pueblo

New Mexico, like much of the western US, has long been home to many Native American tribes who shaped the history of the region every bit as much as the white settlers and cowboys who came after them.

Around Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, you can’t drive more than a dozen or so miles before you see another sign pointing the way to a Pueblo that is open to visitors. Each of these can provide a window into the Native American culture, as residents are often willing to show visitors around and tell them all about the Native heritage. Two of the most fascinating and unique Pueblos in the area that are open to visitors are the Taos Pueblo and Acoma Sky City.

Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico
Located just outside the small, quirky town of Taos, Taos Pueblo’s claim to fame is that it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America. People have been living here for over 1,000 years, and it’s both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark.

The main parts of the traditional structures date back to around 1000 A.D. while the walls, which are made of adobe, are continuously maintained by the people living there. Residents of the pueblo live just as their ancestors did – with no electricity or running water, cooking their food by the fire. They do however, have some modern conveniences. Watching an old woman cook fry bread on an open flame and then seeing her grandson climb into his dusty Ford pickup truck presents an interesting juxtaposition.

The Pueblo is open to visitors daily (though it occasionally closes for special ceremonies). Visitors must pay an admission fee plus a camera fee and guided tours are available.

Acoma Sky City, Acomita, New Mexico
Acoma Sky City is nearly as old as Taos, but located atop a 367-foot bluff, it’s a bit more visually impressive. As you drive down a narrow paved road, you see the mesa rising up from the ground, the small adobe buildings cluttered together on top.

Like at Taos, visitors here must pay a camera permit fee, but here they are not allowed to wander freely and explore – they must be part of a guided tour, which costs $20 per person. Acoma has been inhabited since around 1150 A.D. and also calls itself the “oldest continually inhabited” community. Like at Taos, the residents here live without running water and electricity, but the Pueblo here feels a bit more “ancient”. Because it’s on top of the mesa, you won’t see any cars near the dwellings so you can truly feel as through you’ve stepped back in time as you wander around the buildings and stop to shop for traditional handicrafts and art.

After the tour, visitors can get a more in-depth look at the history of the Pueblo at the Cultural Center, a state-of-the-art museum space. At both Acoma and Taos, visitors can purchase traditional crafts and baked goods from the residents, who rely on business from tourists to sustain themselves.

There are countless other, smaller Pueblos located in the area, but with limited time, I highly recommend visiting one or both of these.

Nativo Lodge offers New Mexico State Fair Package

New Mexico’s State Fair kicked off Friday and to celebrate, the Nativo Lodge is offering a special package. For $129 per night, families of up to four people will receive accommodations (with one king or two double beds), daily breakfast, four one-day passes to the Fair, and one parking pass.

The Nativo Lodge offers spacious rooms decorated with Native American touches. The property features a pool and Jacuzzi, free (and reliable) wi-fi, free parking, and a weekday Happy Hour reception. Rooms with breakfast normally start at $119 per night, so if you plan to visit the Fair, this is a good deal.

The New Mexico State Fair runs through September 27 and costs $7 per day for adults. The Fair showcases Native American, Hispanic, and African American cultures, and includes live music performances, livestock competitions, horse shows, and a rodeo. The Fair is held in northwest Albuquerque, less than 10-minutes by car from the hotel.