The Transportation Security Administration has been working on its image, engaging readers on its blog with the latest travel security information, inviting fans to “meet the bloggers” and more. The TSA is also finding that its message is more palatable with a dose of humor.
This week on its Transportation Tips post, TSA asks readers to please leave their grenades at home. “After reading the title of this post, your first thought probably was, ‘That’s obvious.’ Not always so”, writes Bob Burns. Just this year, TSA officers have discovered 43 grenades in carry-ons and 40 in checked luggage.
Most of the grenades were inert, replica or novelty items, like antiques someone might buy on eBay. “But a few were live smoke, flare, riot, and flash bang grenades, which can pose major safety issues to aircraft and also violate FAA hazmat regulations,” added Burns.That the majority of grenades TSA sees won’t actually explode isn’t the issue. The problem is that they look just like real grenades during screening, slowing down the process, if not closing and evacuating terminals.
The “please don’t bring” advice goes for grenade shaped belt buckles, lighters, soap, candles, MP3 players, paperweights, inert training grenades, and other items can all look like the real thing when x-rayed.
When talking about airport security, we generally focus on what travelers are carrying, not what they’re wearing. But thanks to the TSA recently cracking down on passengers’ fashion choices, style is now a part of the airport security conversation. Forget regulations on liquids or weapons: the TSA’s new security threat is clothing, accessories and hairdos, or so they seem to think.
On July 16th, a TSA spokeswoman tweeted a photo of black pumps that had small replica guns as heels. The shoes were confiscated by the TSA at New York’s Laguardia Airport despite the fact that they could have been easily verified as non-weapons. Also in the tweeted photograph was a black belt lined with mock silver bullets. While mock weapons aren’t ever supposed to be admitted on planes, I have to wonder: how far does that regulation extend? Would a charm bracelet with a mock handgun be permitted?
The TSA’s fashion crackdown has also come to include dreadlocks. Numerous reports have surfaced involving hair searches if the passenger sports dreads. Other style conflicts include an instance in which a male TSA officer recently told a 15-year-old traveler to cover herself in a criticism of her tank top, leggings and button-down shirt (not that it matters; it’s not appropriate for a TSA officer to remark on the perceived modesty or lack thereof in regard to passenger clothing).The TSA’s Fashion Dont’s include (or seem to include):
- Don’t wear accessories that include mock weapons or accessories for weapons, no matter how small or obviously fake.
- Don’t wear loose head coverings, religious or otherwise.
- Don’t wear body piercings.
- Don’t wear thick shirts.
- Don’t wear studded clothing.
- Don’t have dreadlocks.
- Don’t wear tank tops.
- Do wear slip-on shoes.
- Do wear comfortable, layered clothing.
- Do remove as much jewelry beforehand as possible.
Have your fashion choices been judged by the TSA? Share your stories in the comments below.