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And you thought liquid checks were bad....Here come powders

And you thought liquid checks were bad....Here come powders

Old Sep 9, 09, 7:42 am
  #226  
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
It's not powders of any size whatsoever; there is a certain, specific threshold that has to be reached first,
And therein lies the "fly in the ointment." Screeners who have no conceptual idea of what that threshold is either in terms of grams or through visual abilities (or lack thereof) will be calling all sorts of powders out to be tested.

Screeners have been tasked with trying to find every single possible threat to aircraft and it just can't be done. It also means that at some point in time, if someone wants to harm an aircraft, it's going to happen and TSA is NOT going to stop it.

Actually, I think the TSA is now working in any terrorist's favor because of the vast expanse of "threats" they are charged with finding.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 8:12 am
  #227  
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Originally Posted by Superguy View Post
I think with Fofana, TSA lost the ability to go on fishing expeditions for things like powders that may be concealed, perhaps artfully.

TSA got slapped down in Fofana because the screener searched the envelopes looking for contraband despite the fact that she cleared them for weapons, incendiaries, and such. The rule would apply to other things.

Now comes the powders rule. Person hides a powder, say coke, inside a sealed envelope. Screener feels it, and feels the powder. Under Fofana, the screener wouldn't be able to do anything else - they'd have to let it go. However, now that TSA has defined powders to be a threat, screener can now open the envelope to "test" the powder. Oops, it wasn't an explosive, but just happened to be coke. TSA makes a Big Catch® and puts the news on its website and PV.

In theory, Fofana would still protect against the search for things like passports, but now drugs powders are fair game and TSA has a carte blanche to look for them.

Super
Regardless of HQ-dictated policy or lame postings on PV to the contrary, the war on powders is going to be WAY too tempting for the TSA not to use as an excuse to escalate the War on Drugs.

If I remember the illegal stuff policy excerpt that was on PV a while back, there is absolutely no burden of proof on a screener other than the item "might be" contriband uncovered during a search for oficial prohibited items. Given my non-existent hands-on experience with cocaine, I would guarantee, if I were a screener, that I would suspect ANY white powder of "possibly" being contriband.

I'm not a fan of illegal drugs, but, I am a big fan of the Constitution I'm still sworn to protect and defend.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 8:17 am
  #228  
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Serious question: Will they be taking samples out of funeral urns and testing them? If they are not, it's pointless. If they do, it will be an unprecedented level of intrusion.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 8:22 am
  #229  
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Originally Posted by whirledtraveler View Post
Serious question: Will they be taking samples out of funeral urns and testing them? If they are not, it's pointless. If they do, it will be an unprecedented level of intrusion.
From Blogger Bob:

Q: Will TSA require passengers to open urns with human remains to test the contents?
A: No. We have procedures in place to screen urns in a very respectful manner without opening them. But there might be a need for an officer to swab the exterior of the urn and run a test using this same kit.
very respectful manner - any bets on how long it will be before some screener on a power trip becomes disrespectful?

~~

Of course, they will assure us that cremains will have a different look on x-ray than "explosive" powders. But it sure does open up possibilities, doesn't it.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 8:49 am
  #230  
 
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Originally Posted by NoClu View Post
Why is attempting to fly on an airplane more onerous than going to visit a prisoner at the county jail?
Because very few people have been killed as a result of a group of visitors hijacking a prison, transporting that prison to another state, and blowing it up once they've reached their target.

Don't get me wrong ... I'm not claiming that the way that TSA does security screening is the best, or the worst. But you are comparing apples and oranges here.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 10:44 am
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I'm 100% confident that TSA will screw this up the same way they've screwed up liquids. More scope for science-challenged screeners to make life miserable for more people.

Gotta love Blogdad Bob's now-familiar disclaimer that baby food, medicines and make-up "should not" "probably" be a problem. Until, of course, some gung-ho science illiterate decides to test them.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 11:37 am
  #232  
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
Oh, good, it's finally an outed, public conversation topic now.

Ahem.

Originally Posted by goalie View Post
as i posted over here:



tho i do like the fact that where x-ray's cannot detect explosves, they will be used as the primary focus to detect explosive powders
Not exactly.

Powders, in general, have a very distinctive look to them on the x-ray. They almost look like liquids, actually - especially if it's a very fine-grained powder - but but it doesn't take a half-second to resolve it as actually being powder. Whether or not it's the brand of explosives we're on the lookout for is determined by the mobile kit, not the x-ray. The x-ray is just used to point out what needs to be screened.

Which, by the way, isn't going to be nearly as much as you people think it is. As Bob pointed out on the TSA Blog - the screenings are most likely going to be few and far between. It's not powders of any size whatsoever; there is a certain, specific threshold that has to be reached first, not a little bit in an envelope, or women carrying their make-up with them, or that 5oz shaker-bottle of medicinal powder squirreled away in your carry-on's back corner pocket.

All told, the whole entire procedure takes about three seconds once everyone's at the search table. A sample does need to be taken, though, so you might be out a few grains of your powder. You probably don't want to inhale too deeply, either, when the test starts. It's some... pungent stuff.
just messin'.....

but seriously-

first question:
l, g & a's have to be in a freedom baggie but what about powders? gonna be a lot of bag opening, (and 'specially in the first few weeks/months of this new "security enhancement") right?

second question (and this applies to me):
i always travel with a travel size (maybe 3" tall" plasitc bottle of baby powder in my toiletry case and not in a freedom baggie and after too many times of buying the travel size, i have found it more economical (ok, cheaper ) to buy a larger/std size plastic bottle of baby powder and re-fill the smaller ones. the cap is easy to pry off to re-fill and can look "kinda beat up along the edges" so think someone will notice, think someone will care?

third question:
  • how is the test done? simply squirting out some powder onto a test strip/other testing tool
  • is the test done in our presence
  • are clean gloves required
  • can one request a new vs previously used test strip to eliminate a potential false positive (as i always do now with the shoe swab thanks to your advice ^ after a fp at lax.)
  • is there any redress if one is told they cannot take their powders with them or is it like the l,g & a's where it's dump it, send it home or d-y-w-t-f-t?
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Old Sep 9, 09, 6:41 pm
  #233  
 
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Originally Posted by goalie
first question:
l, g & a's have to be in a freedom baggie but what about powders? gonna be a lot of bag opening, (and 'specially in the first few weeks/months of this new "security enhancement") right?
They don't need to be packaged in any kind of special way, like the LGAs do. As far as bag opening goes? Tch... as much as need be, I'd imagine, but like I said above, it's a few-and-far-between thing, as I understand how TSA wants it done. It's not just each and every cotton-pickin' little powder you happen to see in a bag.

Originally Posted by goalie
second question (and this applies to me):
i always travel with a travel size (maybe 3" tall" plasitc bottle of baby powder in my toiletry case and not in a freedom baggie and after too many times of buying the travel size, i have found it more economical (ok, cheaper ) to buy a larger/std size plastic bottle of baby powder and re-fill the smaller ones. the cap is easy to pry off to re-fill and can look "kinda beat up along the edges" so think someone will notice, think someone will care?
If you're traveling with the big bottle, probably.

If it's the smaller bottle you're traveling with, probably not.

Originally Posted by goalie
third question:

* how is the test done? simply squirting out some powder onto a test strip/other testing tool
* is the test done in our presence
* are clean gloves required
* can one request a new vs previously used test strip to eliminate a potential false positive (as i always do now with the shoe swab thanks to your advice after a fp at lax.)
* is there any redress if one is told they cannot take their powders with them or is it like the l,g & a's where it's dump it, send it home or d-y-w-t-f-t?
That's a lot of third questions~

a. More or less. TSA hasn't really told us exactly how we're supposed to get the sample, just that we have to. I imagine it would be whatever way is best, and would make the least amount of mess. Powder goes onto a test pad, and some stuff is dropped into it with a dropper. Keep your face away from it, though; like I said before, it's pungent, powerful stuff. It's actually similar to this in terms of physical procedure. Note, however, that this stuff is NOT what we're going to be using, just similar to it.

b. Of course.

c. If you ask, sure. Otherwise, no, but I wouldn't want to wear the same gloves I just finished doing the test with.

d. The test strips are used once, and then discarded. Each one will be new. The act of performing the test ruins the strip.

e. There's going to be more to it than that, on both counts. Oversize LGA is treated the same as if you found a knife. This, on the other hand, gets more heavy-duty.

All told, however, it's nowhere near as restrictive as the LGA ban is. There is no "war on powder" or across-the-board powder prohibition like there is with powders. It's more like along the lines of a CPAP machine - every CPAP has to be ETD-swabbed after it clears x-ray, and then they're ready to go.

As for the target substance itself...

An example of chlorates in action, in molten form: 1
Two examples of chlorates in action, in powder form, with a catalyst: 2, 3
Physics tells you all you need to know about what happens with that energy if it's contained, rather than allowed to dissipate into open air.
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Old Sep 9, 09, 7:07 pm
  #234  
 
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Originally Posted by RadioGirl View Post
I'm 100% confident that TSA will screw this up the same way they've screwed up liquids. More scope for science-challenged screeners to make life miserable for more people.

Gotta love Blogdad Bob's now-familiar disclaimer that baby food, medicines and make-up "should not" "probably" be a problem. Until, of course, some gung-ho science illiterate decides to test them.
Within the first 90 days of this, we'll probably see medications/medical items torn open for inspection thus rending the contents unusable. Lots of parents flying with infants will have a TSO either spill or contaminate the contents of the powered formula and TSA explaining it away as being 'required for safety' and remember 9/11.

What immediate recourse does the flying public have when TSA destroys medication/medical supplies, food for infants, etc in an effort to make flying safe? Think of the mess this will make. Anyone want to walk through mystery powder of the day in their socks?
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Old Sep 9, 09, 7:24 pm
  #235  
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
They don't need to be packaged in any kind of special way, like the LGAs do. As far as bag opening goes? Tch... as much as need be, I'd imagine, but like I said above, it's a few-and-far-between thing, as I understand how TSA wants it done. It's not just each and every cotton-pickin' little powder you happen to see in a bag.



If you're traveling with the big bottle, probably.

If it's the smaller bottle you're traveling with, probably not.



That's a lot of third questions~

a. More or less. TSA hasn't really told us exactly how we're supposed to get the sample, just that we have to. I imagine it would be whatever way is best, and would make the least amount of mess. Powder goes onto a test pad, and some stuff is dropped into it with a dropper. Keep your face away from it, though; like I said before, it's pungent, powerful stuff. It's actually similar to this in terms of physical procedure. Note, however, that this stuff is NOT what we're going to be using, just similar to it.

b. Of course.

c. If you ask, sure. Otherwise, no, but I wouldn't want to wear the same gloves I just finished doing the test with.

d. The test strips are used once, and then discarded. Each one will be new. The act of performing the test ruins the strip.

e. There's going to be more to it than that, on both counts. Oversize LGA is treated the same as if you found a knife. This, on the other hand, gets more heavy-duty.

All told, however, it's nowhere near as restrictive as the LGA ban is. There is no "war on powder" or across-the-board powder prohibition like there is with powders. It's more like along the lines of a CPAP machine - every CPAP has to be ETD-swabbed after it clears x-ray, and then they're ready to go.

As for the target substance itself...





Physics tells you all you need to know about what happens with that energy if it's contained, rather than allowed to dissipate into open air.
And just how many hours will pass before TSA gets this little process FUBAR?
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Old Sep 9, 09, 7:58 pm
  #236  
 
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post

... women carrying their make-up with them, or that 5oz shaker-bottle of medicinal powder squirreled away in your carry-on's back corner pocket.
So, I don't have to bag my powder and blush to put inside (to protect from) my bag of liquids, creams & gels?
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Old Sep 9, 09, 8:32 pm
  #237  
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
They don't need to be packaged in any kind of special way, like the LGAs do. As far as bag opening goes? Tch... as much as need be, I'd imagine, but like I said above, it's a few-and-far-between thing, as I understand how TSA wants it done. It's not just each and every cotton-pickin' little powder you happen to see in a bag.....
Originally Posted by RadioGirl View Post
I'm 100% confident that TSA will screw this up the same way they've screwed up liquids. More scope for science-challenged screeners to make life miserable for more people.

Gotta love Blogdad Bob's now-familiar disclaimer that baby food, medicines and make-up "should not" "probably" be a problem. Until, of course, some gung-ho science illiterate decides to test them.
Originally Posted by whirledtraveler View Post
Serious question: Will they be taking samples out of funeral urns and testing them? If they are not, it's pointless. If they do, it will be an unprecedented level of intrusion.
Originally Posted by FliesWay2Much View Post
Regardless of HQ-dictated policy or lame postings on PV to the contrary, the war on powders is going to be WAY too tempting for the TSA not to use as an excuse to escalate the War on Drugs.

If I remember the illegal stuff policy excerpt that was on PV a while back, there is absolutely no burden of proof on a screener other than the item "might be" contriband uncovered during a search for oficial prohibited items. Given my non-existent hands-on experience with cocaine, I would guarantee, if I were a screener, that I would suspect ANY white powder of "possibly" being contriband.

I'm not a fan of illegal drugs, but, I am a big fan of the Constitution I'm still sworn to protect and defend.
Dean,

No matter how well you explain it, the Doubters will always twist it into something else. I admire your tenacity; hang in there.

Your post and a couple of these sample comments have been deja vu for me, brother. A few years ago, I was where you are except trying to explain the then newly-implemented LGA policy.

We'll see where this goes. I don't believe this will be as extensive as some fear. I understand the test kit concept; seems to be a pretty effective tool; but we'll see what happens. Friends I know from another life are familiar with the kit and swear by it. We'll see.

rltw
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Old Sep 9, 09, 9:39 pm
  #238  
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Originally Posted by HSVTSO Dean View Post
Physics tells you all you need to know about what happens with that energy if it's contained, rather than allowed to dissipate into open air.
Good thing we have things like Kippie Baggies to contain those blasts!
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Old Sep 9, 09, 9:57 pm
  #239  
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I’m betting the so-called “mobile test kits” end up being used in gate searches.
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Old Sep 10, 09, 11:02 am
  #240  
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to HSVTSO Dean: thank you ^ for answering all my "third questions" .

yeah, it is the travel size plastic baby powder bottle i travel with tho with so many folks keeping their "powdery things" in their carry-on/purse/briefcase as opposed to their freedom baggie, i do still see a a lot of bag opening coming. just my two hockey pucks and thanks for the heads up about holding my breath when the test is done
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