Opinion: Lighter ban ignites worry

Old Jan 24, 05, 4:26 pm
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Originally Posted by MSY-MSP
The ban is as follows. No lighters period. No Bic's, Zippos, etc. Also the signage states that passengers will be allowed one book of matches. According to these folks there is going to be no second chance with the lighters, because it is illegal to bring them through the checkpoint, because they are banned by law.
I thought the law was limited to butane lighters. Does TSA write their own laws now?
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Old Jan 24, 05, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by L-1011
I thought the law was limited to butane lighters. Does TSA write their own laws now?
The law required that butane lighters be banned but allows the TSA to ban whatever else it wants.
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Old Jan 24, 05, 4:49 pm
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Originally Posted by L-1011
I thought the law was limited to butane lighters. Does TSA write their own laws now?
Yes the law is written to ban only butane lighters, but from what I hear, the reason for the complete ban of any and all lighters is to avoid scenes where the passengers says, "I cannot have my lighter but his is ok" They are hoping to avoid having to explain why one is allowed and one isn't, it was easier just to ban them all.

This is what happens when Congress doesn't think things through. And this came from two Democratic Senators. What does this add to our security. You got it. ZIPPO
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Old Jan 24, 05, 8:05 pm
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Originally Posted by Dovster
The law required that butane lighters be banned but allows the TSA to ban whatever else it wants.
My point was that MSY-MSP seemed to claim that TSA will refer to all lighters as prohibited by law, therefore they can dole out stiffer fines even if someone tries to bring a lighter that isn't banned by law but by TSA.
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Old Jan 24, 05, 9:23 pm
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Originally Posted by L-1011
My point was that MSY-MSP seemed to claim that TSA will refer to all lighters as prohibited by law, therefore they can dole out stiffer fines even if someone tries to bring a lighter that isn't banned by law but by TSA.
They have to increase the fines because it's the only way they're going to be able to supplement their local budget. Not to mention they can have more elaborate parties!
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Old Jan 25, 05, 4:46 am
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Originally Posted by whirledtraveler
We still don't seem to be communicating, so let me simplify: If this isn't written down someplace where it can be reviewed by the public, a place where the public can know what the law and policies are, and what is and is not specifically prohibited, it is capricious. The job is to enforce the law, not to have a personal notion of what constitutes a "freebie."
Thought you were an experienced traveller. TSA publishes what items you may and may not take on board aircraft. Wanna try again?

http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlib...12_18_2003.pdf
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Old Jan 25, 05, 8:04 am
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Originally Posted by Bart
Thought you were an experienced traveller. TSA publishes what items you may and may not take on board aircraft. Wanna try again?

http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlib...12_18_2003.pdf
I think perhaps whirled is alluding to the "unofficial expanded" prohibited items list instead of the published one. E.g., TSA has confiscated bricks, cooking utensils (not knives), bookmarks, etc., and sometimes called the police on the person carrying them. (e.g., the bookmark) It is extremely enraging to passengers to think that the cops might be called on them for carrying an item that is not specifically enumerated in any list. Personally I think TSA should have an explicit rule saying that they cannot call the cops or issue a fine for an item not specifically on the national published probhibited list.

Local prohibited lists are not adequate; as a traveller I cannot be expected to read the signs at every airport and keep track of each individual FSD's little obsesssions.

Incidentally, the published prohibited list you cited still says lighters are allowed, which makes it a perfect example of why MSP's current policy (according to MSY-MSP) is unacceptable. It would be totally wrong for MSP to call the cops on someone carrying a lighter on their first attempt, regardless of local signage, because the national prohibited list does not yet list lighters. I hope to God someone fights this instead of letting MSP TSA bully them.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 8:28 am
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Originally Posted by Bart
Thought you were an experienced traveller. TSA publishes what items you may and may not take on board aircraft. Wanna try again?

http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlib...12_18_2003.pdf
Even though I'm not the poster Bart referred to, I'd like to try again

On page 1 in the quoted document it reads:

"the screener may determine that an item not on the prohibited items chart is prohibited. In addition, the screener may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint".

So it appears very clearly on TSA's web site that the rules are not written down very clearly and thus whirledtraveler's comments are still valid.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by Bart
Thought you were an experienced traveller. TSA publishes what items you may and may not take on board aircraft. Wanna try again?

http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlib...12_18_2003.pdf

Although Bart has posted some very thoughtful writings, this one is a great representation of the TSA's general attitude.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 8:54 am
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Originally Posted by red456
Although Bart has posted some very thoughtful writings, this one is a great representation of the TSA's general attitude.
Sorry. Not impressed by your stereotyping. Whirled and I go a ways back with previous encounters in this and other message forums. This is just a continuation of the banter we exchange. Sorry if you aren't in on the joke. None of it is personal.

To say that TSA does not inform the public about which items are and are not prohibitied is silly rhetoric and empty hyperbole. To say that CFR 49 is not available to the public is a completely inaccurate statement. CFR 49 details how TSA carries out its screening functions among the many other pieces of information it also addresses. I strongly suggest that people google it and read it. (Warning: just like any other legislation, it reads like a telephone directory, but the information is there and available to you.)

Of course, I can't account for every single checkpoint across the nation; but TSA checkpoints should have signs posted that remind people of which items are commonly prohibited. For the reading impaired, there are depictions of scissors, knives and handguns with a big red line slashed across them. At our checkpoint, and I'm sure at others as well, there's a recording that plays continuously with verbal reminders as well. (Try listening to that for eight hours straight!) None of this is secret legislation as whirled suggests.

The TSA website attempts to maintain an updated unofficial list of prohibited and permitted items. The list gives you a pretty good idea of what you can and cannot take with you. Initially, the list fluctuated, but on the whole, it's remained relatively unchanged over the past year. Of course, the official list is in the SOP and not releasable to the public. But there really isn't much difference between the list you see on the website and the list in our SOP.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 9:03 am
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Bart, I appreciate your thoughtful discussions and valuable information on this forum. When the matches/lighters prohibition hits on 2/15 this will be a huge mess for the TSA Screeners to confront. It would appear from a review of the public positions that Rep's Dorgan and Wyden have taken, that this "security issue" is artificial and that they are attempting to discourage smoking.

I think that the MSP police are right on, in their assessment that there will be more discord between screeners and pax and that police will have to be called to mediate these disagreements.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 9:23 am
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Originally Posted by studentff
I think perhaps whirled is alluding to the "unofficial expanded" prohibited items list instead of the published one. E.g., TSA has confiscated bricks, cooking utensils (not knives), bookmarks, etc., and sometimes called the police on the person carrying them. (e.g., the bookmark) It is extremely enraging to passengers to think that the cops might be called on them for carrying an item that is not specifically enumerated in any list. Personally I think TSA should have an explicit rule saying that they cannot call the cops or issue a fine for an item not specifically on the national published probhibited list.

Local prohibited lists are not adequate; as a traveller I cannot be expected to read the signs at every airport and keep track of each individual FSD's little obsesssions.

Incidentally, the published prohibited list you cited still says lighters are allowed, which makes it a perfect example of why MSP's current policy (according to MSY-MSP) is unacceptable. It would be totally wrong for MSP to call the cops on someone carrying a lighter on their first attempt, regardless of local signage, because the national prohibited list does not yet list lighters. I hope to God someone fights this instead of letting MSP TSA bully them.
You raise a very valid point, and I share your frustration. The TSA list cannot be all inclusive; it's impossible to list every single item that could realistically be used as a weapon. To address this, there's the catch-all category that allows for screener discretion and judgment. The problem here is that we do have some overzealous screeners and supervisors who go overboard with active imaginations. I don't know how widespread this is as a problem, and I don't know if TSA is even aware of it. This is where your written complaints help address these sort of issues.

At my airport, our philosophy is simple: stick to the written list. Of course, there will always be exceptions, but we address those specifically as exceptions.

Just to digress a little bit, the other day a screener identified a rolling pin on the xray and asked me if it was a prohibited item. Rolling pins aren't specifically identified as prohibited items; however, there's the catch-all category for bludgeons and other blunt instruments. The first image in my mind was the stereotypical cartoon of an angry wife beating her husband over the head with...........nothing other than a rolling pin. I double-checked with the floor supervisor and we allowed it to pass through the checkpoint.

We do try to exercise common sense here at San Antonio. I can't account for other airports.

One other thing, TSA supervisors are not allowed to modify the prohibited items list or any other portion of the SOP. If the lighters you are referring to are disposable, Bic-type lighters with absorbed liquid fuel, then the airport you mentioned is clearly violating TSA policy. You should write the FSD and express your concerns. If the lighters your are referring to have the unabsorbed liquid fuel such as torch lighters that emit a straight blue flame, then there is no violation of SOP. Those lighters have always been prohibited by the FAA under the old CFR and now by TSA under the new CFR.

As for calling the police, that is only done under special circumstances. If there is a loaded pistol inside of a bag, that's a police matter. If someone intentionally tries to smuggle a knife past the checkpoint, it may be a police matter. We would need a solid basis for determining intent. Ignoring a previous warning and returning with the exact same prohibited item the second time around usually serves as that solid basis.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 9:26 am
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Originally Posted by Dresden
Bart, I appreciate your thoughtful discussions and valuable information on this forum. When the matches/lighters prohibition hits on 2/15 this will be a huge mess for the TSA Screeners to confront. It would appear from a review of the public positions that Rep's Dorgan and Wyden have taken, that this "security issue" is artificial and that they are attempting to discourage smoking.

I think that the MSP police are right on, in their assessment that there will be more discord between screeners and pax and that police will have to be called to mediate these disagreements.
Thanks. I appreciate your understanding. I don't think any of us on both sides of the magnometer (walk-thru) are looking forward to this. I certainly am not.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by Bart
The TSA website attempts to maintain an updated unofficial list of prohibited and permitted items. The list gives you a pretty good idea of what you can and cannot take with you. Initially, the list fluctuated, but on the whole, it's remained relatively unchanged over the past year.
Since the list posted is dated 18 Nov 2003, I would think that it hasn't changed at all in over a year.

I did call the TSA number yesterday (the one referred to in the link above) and asked her if any changes had been made to the list for lighters. She was very pleasant and said that no changes have been put into effect, but she is waiting with bated breath to see what happens. I did tell her that I heard indirectly that MSP had implemented changes and she was certainly unaware of that. Not sure if she will investigate further.
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Old Jan 25, 05, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by studentff
I think perhaps whirled is alluding to the "unofficial expanded" prohibited items list instead of the published one. E.g., TSA has confiscated bricks, cooking utensils (not knives), bookmarks, etc., and sometimes called the police on the person carrying them. (e.g., the bookmark) It is extremely enraging to passengers to think that the cops might be called on them for carrying an item that is not specifically enumerated in any list. Personally I think TSA should have an explicit rule saying that they cannot call the cops or issue a fine for an item not specifically on the national published probhibited list.
I was. Laws with that much ambiguity are unjust. We've all heard the stories. If a screener thinks that pdf file is an answer, I'll just say that I understand. To work in such a system a fair person must adopt certain blindspots and insensitivities or else seriously reconsider their employment.
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