I spent the weekend attending [personal profile] coraa and [profile] jmpava's wedding, which was lovely and moving, and was the first wedding I have ever been to which featured a jaguar and an owl. (It was at the Seattle zoo.) I also got to meet [personal profile] faithhopetricks and her husband T and their cats, which was wonderful - I think she is the LJ friend I have up till now known longest and best without actually meeting.

However, I am here to tell you about dangerous jam.

As a wedding present, I carefully put together and gift-wrapped a box of local, artisinal Los Angeles foods, including a jar of golden raspberry jam. At LAX, I was pulled from the line due to jam. Over my protests, the box was unwrapped and searched.

"Can't you just check it for explosives?" I asked. "It's jam!"

"I know it's jam," said the unruffled security guy. "It already passed the explosive test. But you're not allowed to bring more than three ounces of gels onboard, and that's five ounces." (Or something.)

I am going to try to keep the security ranting to a minimum in this post, but I just want to highlight the utter Orwellian idiocy of knowing that a substance is harmless, but refusing to let it onboard due to security theatre - regulations which everyone involved knows are pointless and have nothing to do with safety, but are just there because once a rule is enacted, it becomes impossible to ever roll back. And therefore jam is forever banned from airlines - but only medium to large jars! Small jars of the same jam are totally okay!

Fuming, I re-wrapped the box and was sent back to check my suitcase. The airline charged me $20 to check my one piece of checked luggage, containing my deadly jam.

When I arrived in Seattle, I opened my suitcase. A paper fluttered out, informing me that my suitcase had been selected for more searching. The wrapping paper had once again been ripped off my box of terrifying jam, and my underwear had been stolen.

I should note that these were not fancy, fetishy, or even expensive panties. They were boring, basic, cotton, totally unsexy panties purchased at Target. Fuming again, I borrowed wrapping paper, wrapped the box for the third time, and got a friend of the bride to drive me to Target to buy more underwear. I am convinced that some creepy security guy has a Criminal Minds-esque room completely wallpapered with stolen underwear.

It was then that I opened my purse to get out my wallet to buy my replacement underwear. In the side pocket in which I keep my wallet, there were two items which I had forgotten were there and which I had been allowed to carry aboard the plane: a miniature pry bar (a banned tool, not obviously dangerous but which I could certainly use to hurt someone in a pinch) and a straight edge - a long razor blade set into a folding handle, only differing from the box-cutters of 9/11 infamy in that my razor blade was about twice as long as the standard box-cutter.

But hey! At least they managed to prevent me from getting anyone's hair sticky with jam.
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)

From: [personal profile] snarp

I like how they see an unopened water bottle and just go ahead and say "no water." They don't bother to say "no fluids" - it is accepted that water does not go through security.

I worry that the latest generation of fliers will develop some kind of weird cognitive bias from this sort of thing. These children will grow up with the subconscious belief that liquids, as a general category, possess threatening properties and a brooding, untrustworthy nature, and might choose to take human life at any time.
quillori: an illustration of Cerberus (subject: cerberus)

From: [personal profile] quillori

The obsession with confiscating water is getting, indeed has already got, entirely out of hand. I once had the misfortune to be flying out of Julius Nyerere just as Clinton was due to fly in (my flight only just managed to leave before they closed the airport for his arrival). Obviously his American security guys had been lecturing the local Tanzanians on appropriate security measures, with the result that all carry-on was being carefully screened and any water removed - but only water. The woman in front of me had a largish glass bottle of something that looked like bath oil or similar; the guy doing the screening opened her bag, examined it and told her no water was allowed, she pointed out it wasn't water, tilting the bottle so he could see how viscous it was. He agreed that it obviously wasn't water after all and waved it through.

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From: [personal profile] jonquil - Date: 2010-09-08 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [personal profile] quillori - Date: 2010-09-09 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
jonquil: (Default)

From: [personal profile] jonquil

+1 on the utter, utter stupidity.

Another friend of mine -- maybe somebody in Ellen Kushner's circle? had her underpants stolen. UGH. I would encourage you to report that.

Edit: I wonder how all those people who travel with expensive wine from vineyard tours manage? Are they (gasp) checking it in the overheated hull?
Edited Date: 2010-09-07 08:22 pm (UTC)
coraa: (Default)

From: [personal profile] coraa

We always check it. A lot of vineyards these days will pack them for you specifically for putting in checked luggage, complete with insulation and/or icepacks.

Between the liquid and the potential danger of broken thick glass, there's no way it'd get through a carryon unless someone was just not paying attention (which of course also happens).
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)

From: [personal profile] laurashapiro

The underpants gnomes strike again, huh?

What unbelievable bullshit. Flying has become such an ordeal over the past ten years. I remember when I actually used to enjoy it!
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

Bwahaha! Last time I came back from Wiscon I had to pay to check in my luggage for the exact same reason. At least I did not have my underwear stolen?

Also, it's somewhat ridiculous that it's less of a hassle to get through security for an international flight going from Taiwan to the US than it is to take an hour long flight from SF to LA.

From: [identity profile] arielstarshadow.livejournal.com

A jar of jam is a blunt object! Very dangerous, you could pummel someone over the head with it!

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com

Yeah, she could have bashed the security guy over the head with it!

-- Oh man, and then in the wedding buffet line she made me laugh til it _hurt_ with this whole riff about how we would probably see the storyline about the Security Guard Who Stole Underwear on Criminal Minds at some point, you know, where they walk in and play the flashlights around and there are all these TROPHY PANTIES thumbtacked all over the walls, hundreds and hundreds of them....

From: [identity profile] viorica8957.livejournal.com

Think that's bad? When my parents and I flew to the States a few years ago, we had a jar of peanut butter confiscated by customs. Apparently they were afraid that we had planted a bomb in the peanut butter.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

Actually, peanut butter could be really dangerous. There is a super carcinogenic mold that peanuts are subject to. So the security agents must have been afraid you'd kill tons people with cancer. Um, yeah, that must be it!

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From: [identity profile] spectralbovine.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-09-07 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com

It's all very ridiculous.

One of these days, someone will improve chemical sniffers enough to get rid of X-ray/visual attempts to detect bomb components, silly or not[*]. But I don't expect it to happen soon.

[*]Silly detection attempts, not silly bomb components. Although now I am imagining a scenario where someone disguises plastic explosive by coloring it pink and claiming it's Silly Putty - those little eggs are each much less than 3 ounces.

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com

Yep, I've accidentally gotten through airport security with lighters, fingernail clippers, and swiss army knives - but stopped and searched the time I tried to get through with my typhoid medication and a pack of tissues.


From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com

Yeah, the whole thing is just Security Theater- it's there to make people feel better*, not to actually prevent hijackings and so forth. What makes it especially infuriating is that all the people in charge know it's just for show, and freely admit it, but don't actually want to change the rules. I go through airport security often enough that I know all the tricks and so things like this never happen to me, but it does still frustrate me.

*It doesn't make me feel better, and no one I know likes it either. But clearly some people are reassured by all the drama and show. It reminds me of that article in last week's Onion: Smart Qualified People Behind the Scenes Keeping America Safe Don't Exist.

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com


....and folks, I SAW that straight edge that was in her purse. It had an _orange_ (?) handle and the razor was wicked sharp. T said he was really surprised it passed the X-ray machine (did they X-ray your purse? they do, right?). BZUH.

(Also it was so wonderful to meet you, finally!)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

It was wonderful to meet you, too! I seriously will come back to Seattle some day.

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From: [identity profile] vom-marlowe.livejournal.com

Man, I hate losing underwear. My bags are always searched and I always lose something. Last time it was some smartwool socks, and I was MOST displeased.

From: [identity profile] spectralbovine.livejournal.com


I fucking love that tag.

So when are you going to start your new band, Dangerous Jam?

I got a three-inch syringe needle on a plane just a few months after 9/11.

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From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com - Date: 2010-09-07 11:15 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com

If the goal were really to keep people from being homicidal, plane security would all be so very different.
weirdquark: Stack of books (Default)

From: [personal profile] weirdquark

I once was traveling with a small metal suitcase which we bought to carry the CDs my a-cappella group sells. The latches were broken (they were stuck in "pop unlocked") so I needed to have it be my carry-on. Having sold most of the CDs that trip, we filled the suitcase with recording equipment, (microphones and other electronic things to make them talk to my computer) and because I had nowhere else to put it, some cheese, pumpkin bread, and some bags of red-hots.

Airline security pulled the suitcase for extra screening, looked through it, and sent it through the x-ray machine again.

I thought that they were suspicious of the weird electronic things, but when the suitcase came out again I discovered that they had removed the block of cheese and put it in those small wallet-and-keys dishes so they could x-ray it separately.

I guess I'm lucky that the cheese was less than three ounces; otherwise they probably would have declared it a very dangerous gel and confiscated it.

From: [identity profile] marzipan-pig.livejournal.com

Next time you come to Seattle, I can hook you up with some blackberries that I bet you can make into something to take BACK with you ...

From: [identity profile] coraa.livejournal.com

Sentences I never thought I would say: I'm so glad you could come, and I'm sorry they took your underwear!

From: [identity profile] tanyahp.livejournal.com

This, and the fear of death, is why I hate flying. Hate hate hate hate it. Anyway, hi to the folks in Seattle (esp Moira).

From: [identity profile] shveta-thakrar.livejournal.com


Gods, I hate the TSA.

And the sickos who steal underwear.


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