Entries Tagged 'Airport security' ↓

Now I’m Square

Boarding pass with TSA Pre-check

by Rhona Mahony. I have never paid for or participated in the Transportation Security Administration’s insulting PreCheck program. Oh yeah, make us pay for a larger sliver of our Fourth Amendment rights and the search procedures of August, 2001. Helloooo TSA! If I’m not a criminal suspect, leave me alone. Don’t get between me and my airplane.

Yet, the American Airlines sent me the boarding pass above, on October 23. Will I be “pre-checked” on all my flights from now on?

I’m sad. I’ve smuggled gunpowder through airport security. I’ve written, taught, and demonstrated against wasteful, chilling, illegal surveillance. They think I’m tame.

Square frowning face

My husband, benighted dear, did pay for PreCheck. He submitted fingerprints, saliva, a Pledge of Allegiance, and whatever else they asked him for so that he wouldn’t have to take off his belt in public. His Visa credit card and mine have the same number. Will the TSA give PreCheck status to anyone who buys a airline ticket with that credit card?

Would you like to try?

A Way Forward

by Rhona Mahony. It is now a shame to pass through an airport and see long lines of travelers struggling to comply with the official search of their persons before they board an airplane. Osteoporotic grandfathers stoop awkwardly to untie their shoelaces, parents beseech children to take off sweaters they had only just persuaded them to put on, portly hedge fund managers remove their belts, then hold up their trousers with a hand they cannot spare because next they must empty their pockets.

I think that everyone agrees that the searches are inconvenient and that the workforce and machines that carry them out are costly. A plan that could eliminate this unfortunate expense of private time and public money would benefit the whole country.

My proposal does not only address the pathetically confused and undignified hubbub at airports, but has wide application everywhere that people gather or, for that matter, stroll or even sit alone.
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Carrying Gunpowder through Airport Security

by Rhona Mahony. Last Thursday, December 5, I brought five ounces (140 grams) of old-fashioned black gunpowder to San Francisco airport. I also brought along a boarding pass for United flight 720 to Denver that I had created at home, in an computer art program. TSA agents accepted the boarding pass. They also took no notice at all of the gunpowder. Accepting the boarding pass was reasonable. Boarding passes that we design and print at home look just like ones designed by the airlines that we print at home. I had thought, though, that I might elicit a short conversation about the gunpowder. Mind you, I had packed the stuff safely. It was in three separate jars: one of charcoal, one of sulphur, and one of saltpetre (potassium nitrate). Each jar was labeled: Charcoal, Sulphur, Saltpetre. I had also thoroughly wet down each powder with tap water. No ignition was possible. As a good citizen, I had packed the resulting pastes into a quart-sized “3-1-1″ plastic bag, along with my shampoo and hand cream. This bag I took out of my messenger bag and put on top of my bin of belongings, turned so that the labels were easy for the TSA inspector to read.

It was my suitcase that caught the attention of the TSA fellow watching the baggage X-ray monitor. He frowned. Then he waved over a stocky TSA co-worker. The co-worker picked up my suitcase and carried it down to me at the end of the conveyor belt. “Anything sharp or fragile in here?,” he asked. “Not that I can think of,” I said. What had the first fellow seen? Continue reading →