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Why can't the TSA be consistent?

I travel a decent amount which means that I encounter the TSA at a lot of different airports around the country. This morning I'm flying out of Ronald Reagan airport in DC at 5am where once again I saw a lack of consistency in how the TSA chooses to enforce their rules.

The person in front of me was a flight attendant for American Airlines. As Starbucks is located before security, she had a half drunk frappuccino with her and an obvious intent to take it through security. If you haven't flown in the past few years, the TSA has gone to great lengths to ban people from bringing liquids and gels through a security checkpoint.

TSA Officer Pittman who was standing behind the metal detector asked the flight attendant, "is that a caramel frappuccino?"

The flight attendant somewhat casually replies, "no, of course not" and then walked through the metal detector with it in her hand. Officer Pittman clearly saw that she was violating the TSA's liquids rule but did nothing to stop her.

Quite honestly, I could care less if people are allowed to bring coffee through the security checkpoint, but I expect my government to hold themselves to a consistent and higher bar. It isn't about this one flight attendant "sneaking" a frappuccino through security, but rather that the rules and laws the TSA has created should be enforced uniformly and not ignored when it is convenient. I'd obviously love to see the prohibition of liquids changed, but until then we've all got 3-1-1 to live with.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
The whole liquid thing is a mess. I've flown, been told at one airport that I was okay, told at another I was not. And I was carrying the same stuff. I just boggle.

And with the whole $15 to $25 fees to check your first bag, that sort of inconsistency and the fact that it exists makes things more difficult.

(I also still can't figure out why we need to remove our laptops in the US. You don't when you're traveling internationally.)
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
You do have to take laptops out in the UK; you didn't used to, but it changed around 2006, iirc.

I suspect UK airports are also more consistent about liquids, but with the fact that most flights here are international, and from airports that are pretty much malls that happen to have aircraft departing from them, you can rely on having somewhere to buy a drink and enough time to get one, which probably helps.
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
hm. Didn't recall having that situation with laptops in 2007 in the UK but that could just be my memory. I have clear memories in Germany of a security person laughing at me when I asked if I had to remove my laptop.

The mall aspect is true in parts of the US but a lot of that is outside the security checkpoint and we're generally advised to go through security early. :/ And the food options on the other side can be awful, with no centralized point for eating. O'Hare can be especially problematic at times. :( And the prices are out of this world. $2 to $3 for a bottle of water.
Apr. 30th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
One more reason to be grateful I've been exclusively Amtrak for years. Liquids? Belts? Shoes? Laptops? ID?

Amtrak has never heard of these things.
Apr. 30th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't you agree that we could flip a coin and search on heads, and it would be almost as functional while taking half the time? The goal is to deter terrorist effort, and that stops terrorist attacks.
Apr. 30th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
Hi. Bob here from the TSA Blog. I just wanted to drop in and let you know that "on duty" flight crew in uniform are exempt from the 3-1-1 policy.

Whether or not it was a good idea for her to openly display her beverage in front of non-exempt passengers can be debated though.



EoS Blog Team
Jul. 7th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
It sounds like he was reminding her that she was violating the policy, but letting her off with a warning.
Aug. 26th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
Flight attendants are allowed to take liquids thru. We are not held to the 3-1-1 rule when in uniform.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )