I'm sitting in the Cincinnati airport waiting for a connection from an international flight. TSA just confiscated my small snowglobe from what is probably my only trip ever to Stonehenge. A gift for my wife, who was unable to join me on a business trip.
I asked if they would kindly tell me the regulation or rule number that referenced the snow globe "issue." I was told by one fellow that he "didn't know" but that's the rule, period. I pressed -- you don't have a reg number that I can go look up later? He told me that they weren't about to give me their "rule book" on how they do their job.
The nice TSA girl felt bad about it, but advised I had to check it (I couldn't check my whole carry-on) or abandon it. So I abandoned it and grumbled my way into the terminal. Where I discovered two things:
1. A ticket agent to whom I grumbled suggested that I had plenty of time on my layover and I should go and complain to a supervisor. I discovered that I'm actually concerned about making any sort of stink about this -- I travel a lot and I'm feeling, for maybe the first time since TSA started, a real chilling effect. I have serious worries about my complaining ending me up on a profile or the black hole of the no-fly list, which would have a significant impact on my job.
2. The "Trade Market" kiosk by gate A26 is selling two different types of snow globes, which are apparently OK to take on a flight since they're in the sanitized space of the airport.
So it's not the fact that it's a snow globe that's so offensive. I can't take a pocket knife through security, but I also can't buy one in a shop on the other side. I can buy the same "snow" and base and little glass bulb 10 meters from where I'm sitting.
But it's also not the fact that there's liquid inside, as my confiscated snow globe was very small and clearly under 3 ounces. I can't take a liter of water through security, and I can buy a liter of water on the other side, but I CAN take 3 ounces of water through security.
If my snow globe had been in a kit, would that be OK? Packet of "snow," clearly labeled. Injection-molded base with little Stonehenge on it. Little glass ball. 3 ounces of water in a plastic bag out separate from the rest of my kit.
TSA employees posting on this blog, I'd love some insight as to what's going on here, because it surely doesn't hold water.
One of you points out how you don't much like some of the silly rules either -- but I'd be keen to know if any of you ever pushes back up the chain? Is there a process for questioning rules that lead nowhere? You've detailed here how you feel about peoples' shoes and stinky fish and laundry and so on, but do you ever feel that you're part of something that's lost its way? Do you, who so badly despise warm and sweaty shoes, ever feel sympathy for the people who are splayed upon your conveyor belt, daily losing their dignity, and their snow globes?
Just think, future generations will look back on today as "the good old days" of air travel.