TSA Detection?

Old Feb 8, 10, 9:04 am
  #1  
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TSA Detection?

Since FT folks use the TSA checkpoints so frequently, we might be in a position to collect anecdotes or maybe even real data about TSA detection. Do people feel comfortable talking about how often TSA detects or misses things it says it detects?

I'm kind of reluctant to ask this question, since my personal experiences are consistent with the red-team detection percentages that so embarrass the TSA. If TSA detection's detection percentage is so low on the things they say they detect, why should anyone expect it to be better on more important things?

How often do you fly with:
  • Undetected/unexamined water
  • Unexamined oversize LGA (saline, water...)
  • Unbagged 311
  • Anything "dangerous"
  • Wrong boarding passes / ID
  • etc....

I've accidently done them all, but don't recall how often.

Personally, I've flown with my knifeless tiny swiss army penknife at least 30 times over the last two years and it has been detected only once. (In case you think it isn't catch-worthy to the TSA, the TSO who bag checked it scolded me that I'll have problems with it every time and I should present it specially and separately before the x-ray.)

I'd rate this a <3% detection rate for penknives packed similarly.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 10:23 am
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Lets see...

I have a Nalgene that I travel with all of the time. It is usually half-full, but I once took it through full! Not even a peep from the screener....

I work in an IT Department, so when I travel, I have a few screw-drivers in my bag. They are easily more than four inches. Have not had problems with these being taken or questioned...

One time a year or two ago, I was at a shooting range... Unknown to me, I left a few bullets in my jacket pocket, which was run through the x-ray... Not a yap from TSA..

I suppose most of the stuff I travel with is considered dangerous... I could remove the battery from my laptop and hit people with it... I could stab people with my pen. I could also strangle or tie-up people with my laptop charger...
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Old Feb 8, 10, 10:44 am
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I always carry my alarm clock with me...never questioned...

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Old Feb 8, 10, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by N231LA View Post
I always carry my alarm clock with me...never questioned...

http://news.softpedia.com/images/news2/The-Gong-and-Time-Bomb-Two-More-Silly-Alarm-Clocks-2.jpg[/img]


I also make sure to have a TSA sticker visible...
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Old Feb 8, 10, 10:56 am
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My boss says that he always leaves his Freedom Bag inside his bag, rarely gets noticed (of course, we went through a very small airport a month ago, and that's where he got a thorough bag search as retaliation).

I just take the bag out. I have a couple of items that are within the limit, but at first glance appear oversize.

I just carry replacement Freedom Bags after a TSAer touches it. Heaven knows what else those blue gloves have touched (and, no, that's not a shot at the hygiene of TSAers).
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Old Feb 8, 10, 12:13 pm
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Last week, at LAX (LAX to JFK), I left on purpose a bottle of water (yeah, thirsty and tired and also tired of the rip-off prices at airports) in the hope nobody would notice, but they did. I won additional hand searches of carry-on and laptop bag (one TSO -female- yelled at me because of the water and took the laptop bag away from my sight, other TSO -male- was much nicer -polite-, took care of my carry-on, in front of me).

When I was collecting all my things, I noticed I had forgotten 2 hand & body lotion bottles visible and exposed (less than 3 oz each, but "unbagged", my 311 bag was already full, these were supposed to be in my checked bag, but I had forgotten to put them there). I didn't want my favorite lotion confiscated, I was lucky, I guess

Last edited by starlanet; Feb 8, 10 at 12:34 pm
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Old Feb 8, 10, 12:17 pm
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Originally Posted by starlanet View Post
Last week, at LAX (LAX to JFK), I left on purpose a bottle of water (yeah, thirsty and tired and also tired of the rip-off prices at airports) in the hope nobody would notice, but they did. I won additional hand searches of carry-on and laptop bag (one TSO -female- yelled at me because of the water and took laptop bag away from my sight, other TSO -male- was much nicer, took care of my carry-on, in front of me).

When I was collecting all my things, I noticed I had forgotten 2 hand & body lotion bottles (less than 3 oz each, but "unbagged", my 311 bag was already full, these were supposed to be in my checked bag, but I had forgotten to put them there). I didn't want to favorite lotion confiscated, I was lucky, I guess.
The moral to this story is that all any terrorist has to do to get forbidden items through security is to create a large bottle of water diversion.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Mr. Gel-pack View Post
Personally, I've flown with my knifeless tiny swiss army penknife at least 30 times over the last two years and it has been detected only once. (In case you think it isn't catch-worthy to the TSA, the TSO who bag checked it scolded me that I'll have problems with it every time and I should present it specially and separately before the x-ray.)

I'd rate this a <3% detection rate for penknives packed similarly.
If you know how to reduce the chances of a pat-down and how to avoid setting off the WTMD by managing the amount of metal on your body, such a penknife (with or without blade) will pass through the WTMD without alarm, giving a detection rate much lower than 3%. Widespread use of WBI for primary screening (and 100% pat downs for everyone else who refuses) will of course increase that detection rate.

I traveled with a 4.2 oz tube of toothpaste in my freedom baggie for a long time until a TSO at IAD on my honeymoon caught it and acted like she had saved the world from danger. The only reason she caught it was that the baggie got extra examination because my wife's and my freedom baggies ended up in the same bin, and she thought she was catching someone trying to take 2 1-quart bags, which I suppose would have been an even bigger catch.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 12:44 pm
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TSA appears to be completely incapable of detecting liquid packed in ampules. I no longer bother to declare it.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 12:55 pm
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My wife consistently forgets to remove a small canister of pepper spray from her purse before we fly. It's less than 1oz. and not bagged, but it's definitely designed to "produce a powerful ballistic stream" (according to the manufacturer).

The first couple of times this happened, we both freaked out a little - now, we just sort of laugh in disbelief that TSA missed it again. Granted, she doesn't travel with me all that much, but this has happened at least half a dozen times or so.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 1:22 pm
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My results

When I fly I take with me:

- liquids not in a 3-1-1 baggie and not removed from my carry-on,
- screwdriver,
- knife

I've carried the above on every flight I've taken for the past 4-5 years. I fly on average one trip every other week.

I'm still waiting for TSA to detect any of the above.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by starlanet View Post
...took the laptop bag away from my sight...
You allowed that?
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Old Feb 8, 10, 2:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Mr. Gel-pack View Post
[*]Unexamined oversize LGA (saline, water...)

Personally, I've flown with my knifeless tiny swiss army penknife at least 30 times over the last two years and it has been detected only once. (In case you think it isn't catch-worthy to the TSA, the TSO who bag checked it scolded me that I'll have problems with it every time and I should present it specially and separately before the x-ray.)
In all the times I have declared my over 3.4 oz. contact lens solution bottle, not once has it been further tested.

I also travel with a knifeless tiny swiss army penknife. To show you how long I have been doing that, I had even rounded the edges of the scissors when only blunt-tip scissors were allowed. I would say about a third of the time it is looked at. And I had a eerily similar experience where the "TSO who bag checked it scolded me that I'll have problems with it every time and I should present it specially and separately before the x-ray." Sometimes they may miss it and perhaps other times the x-ray operator realizes that either it doesn't have a knife on it, or the "weapon" is rather inconsequential, and lets it through.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 8:34 pm
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On my past eight flights, all in the past three months, I never took my freedom baggie out of my bag, and nobody seemed to notice. On one flight, I brought a keychain-sized mult-itool (Leatherman Squirt) through, and nobody seemed to notice. I mailed it home to avoid having it confiscated. On one flight, I didn't have any proof of identification, and I ended up in jail for almost a day and a half.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 9:11 pm
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December 26th, 2009:
LAX TSA failed to detect a ColdSteel Recon1 Tactical knife (4" blade, tanto shaped) in my rollaboard. I didn't even know it was there! I must have forgotten to take it out after my last road trip (drove SFO-LAX-SFO to get my lady to her LAX-SVO SU plane).
I only found it out at home in Moscow when unpacked my stuff. Needless to say, I was a bit confused..)
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