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TSA wants to test your drink -- at the gate

TSA wants to test your drink -- at the gate

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Old Feb 25, 11, 8:39 am
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Why is TSA swabbing beverages at the gate?

A couple of weeks back I arrive STL on WN to change flights, had plenty of time before next flight so I get an over-priced coffee and return to my departure gate. Along comes a pair of TSO's approaching waiting passengers in the gate area and demanding (not asking) to swab the edge of beverage containers.

Female TSO asks for my coffee cup so that she can "test it". I asked her "test it for what", no answer, just a glare and second request for my coffee cup. I hand it to her and she pulls a swab out of her front pants pocket. The swab was not in a sterile package but just jammed in her pocket. She removes the lid of my cup, swabs inside the top of the rim, looks at the swab, hands it back to me and says "thank you". Off she goes to swab the next beverage. I tossed my over-priced coffee in the garbage.

Several questions I would have liked to ask her, but didn't. Primarily, why aren't you using a sterile-packaged swab? Secondly, why would I be ingesting something that could blow up or poison someone else? Also, since I'm inside the "sterile" area, and obviously purchased this drink inside the "sterile" area, shouldn't you be testing the beverages at the retail locations before they are sold to the traveling public?

Does anyone know what this is all about, and if it is something I refuse does it get me kicked out of the airport, or worse? My gut tells me this is just another in a long line of symbolism over substance harassment.

Sorry if this is a redundant post. It's my first one. Just found FT, and believe I have found some kindred spirits in regards to air travel in the days of the TSA, particularly in this forum. My thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 25, 11, 8:45 am
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What it is about: Security theater

Why they are doing it: Because they can

Next time, just say "no thank you".

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Old Feb 25, 11, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
What it is about: Security theater

Why they are doing it: Because they can

Next time, just say "no thank you".

And welcome to FlyerTalk!
"Next time, just say 'no thank you'" while letting the cup slip out of your hands and on to the floor in front of the TSO.
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:01 am
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Not sure what that was all about other than "busy work" because the points you brought are are sound to me. Or perhaps they had to make their quota and thought you an easy target. Perhaps it was a dare or a bet.

I probably would not have taken the cup back.
"You can keep it."
They can't fine you or kick out of the airport for that.

Well they can TRY but nothing they can spin will make sense and will be unsuccessful. You complied and surrender the beverage and did not hinder their them....
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:14 am
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Just say .... NO unless said clerk wants to buy it. NO WAY are they going to touch my drink.
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Old Feb 25, 11, 9:58 am
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They don't know why they are swabbing your drink, (or checking your ID), they just do what they are told.... according to the TSO who testified at Phil Mocek's trial.

The disgusting part, pulling the swab from an unsanitary pocket, was probably not SOP.... But then, who knows for sure, since that information is SSI.
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:00 am
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Tell the goon to "GFYMIHA," which, of course, means "Go Find Yourself More Important High-Value Activities."
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:09 am
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Originally Posted by PresRDC View Post
Tell the goon to "GFYMIHA," which, of course, means "Go Find Yourself More Important High-Value Activities."
Hmm... I had a completely different idea on that second letter....
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:13 am
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It would be kind of funny if they did it to a hyper-hysterical silly person.

TSA: "Ma'am, I need to test your drink."

She: "What for? I just bought it at Starbucks. (voice rising). Is something wrong with my drink?"

TSA: "No Ma'am, just an abundance of caution, if you want to fly today, I need to test your drink for explosive substances."

She: (screams, jumps up, throws drink, starts screaming louder): "OMG! OMG! There's a bomb in my drink! OMG! We're all going to die!"
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:16 am
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My Laugh for the Day - Thank You

Originally Posted by chollie View Post
It would be kind of funny if they did it to a hyper-hysterical silly person.

TSA: "Ma'am, I need to test your drink."

She: "What for? I just bought it at Starbucks. (voice rising). Is something wrong with my drink?"

TSA: "No Ma'am, just an abundance of caution, if you want to fly today, I need to test your drink for explosive substances."

She: (screams, jumps up, throws drink, starts screaming louder): "OMG! OMG! There's a bomb in my drink! OMG! We're all going to die!"
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by Hat-Trick View Post
She removes the lid of my cup, swabs inside the top of the rim, looks at the swab, hands it back to me and says "thank you". Off she goes to swab the next beverage. I tossed my over-priced coffee in the garbage.
I'm thinking that I wouldn't have done so - you might have marched back to the vendor with the smurfs in tow and demanded to know why the TSA suspects the beverage you just bought from them.

Bonus points if you can do it in front of a long line of people waiting to buy their drinks.
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Old Feb 25, 11, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by Caradoc View Post
I'm thinking that I wouldn't have done so - you might have marched back to the vendor with the smurfs in tow and demanded to know why the TSA suspects the beverage you just bought from them.

Bonus points if you can do it in front of a long line of people waiting to buy their drinks.
+1
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Old Feb 25, 11, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by BubbaLoop View Post
What it is about: Security theater

Why they are doing it: Because they can

Next time, just say "no thank you".

And welcome to FlyerTalk!
Could not have said it better myself.. As noted, just refuse and walk away.

Originally Posted by chollie View Post
It would be kind of funny if they did it to a hyper-hysterical silly person.

TSA: "Ma'am, I need to test your drink."

She: "What for? I just bought it at Starbucks. (voice rising). Is something wrong with my drink?"

TSA: "No Ma'am, just an abundance of caution, if you want to fly today, I need to test your drink for explosive substances."

She: (screams, jumps up, throws drink, starts screaming louder): "OMG! OMG! There's a bomb in my drink! OMG! We're all going to die!"


I'd love to see the reaction from the clerk!
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Old Feb 25, 11, 11:55 am
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Originally Posted by chollie View Post
She: "What for? I just bought it at Starbucks. (voice rising). Is something wrong with my drink?"
TSA: "No Ma'am, just an abundance of caution, if you want to fly today, I need to test your drink for explosive substances."
If there are other pax with drinks nearby, yells loudly to warn the rest of the gate area. A Condition Orange public service announcement.

Pax: "Hey Everybody, this agent from Homeland Security thinks Starbucks is selling cups with explosives in them. My cup only has coffee in it, so which one of you is holding the bomb?"
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Old Feb 25, 11, 12:25 pm
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Another GREAT idea

Originally Posted by Flaflyer View Post
If there are other pax with drinks nearby, yells loudly to warn the rest of the gate area. A Condition Orange public service announcement.

Pax: "Hey Everybody, this agent from Homeland Security thinks Starbucks is selling cups with explosives in them. My cup only has coffee in it, so which one of you is holding the bomb?"
+1
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