Having recently traveled through airport security a few times (and taken off my shoes, and had my bag inspected, and had my body patted down by a stranger), I can definitely appreciate this article.
To paraphrase a classic line from Lily Tomlin, I worry that the person who thought up the rules for carrying liquids and gels on airplanes last year is busy thinking up something new this year.
The thought arises partly because of a scene just after Christmas at an airport security checkpoint, where a half-dozen festive snow globes — like the ones with Frosty the Snowman in a liquid-filled glass globe that simulates snowfall when you shake it — were lined up on a counter.
Wasn’t that nice! The Transportation Security Administration had decorated the checkpoint! But as it turned out, Frosty and his co-conspirators had actually been busted — confiscated from passengers’ carry-on bags pursuant to the following notification by the security administration:
“Snow globes, regardless of size of amount of liquid inside, even with documentation, are prohibited in your carry-on.”
It just gets weirder, too:
Inherent in the obsession on liquids and gels, Mr. Schneier said, “is the notion that we can stop the bad guys by focusing on tactics, which is moronic. I pick a defense, you see my defense, and then you, the bad guy, decide what to do. That’s a game we can’t win.”
He added, “Screeners are so busy looking for liquids that they’ve missed decoy bombs in tests. We’ve defined success so weirdly. When T.S.A. takes away some frozen tomato sauce from grandmom because it might become a liquid, they think of it as a success. But that’s a failure. It’s a false alarm.”
After getting through airport security on one leg of my trip, I found the entire gate lounge for my 747 flight with United sectioned off, and this is where I had to be patted down. I couldn’t understand it – we couldn’t even take water on the plane that we had bought from a store in the airport after the security checkpoint. Needless to say, I was quite thirsty on that (13 hour long) flight.
Of course, when I traveled on Qantas during my trip, I had no additional security to worry about – and Qantas, unlike United or American Airlines, had those neat up-to-date video screens at each seat, complete with on-demand video (including Top Gear) and video games – all for free. Now that’s service!
Still, there’s humor to be seen in it all. Quoting Mr. Schneier again:
“It’s a good thing the shoe bomber wasn’t an underwear bomber.”
Heh. No kidding.