Overheard at airport:

"Here," dad to girl, "Get your ID out and have it with your ticket."

"Excuse me, sir," said the TSA officer, pointing to the young female, "She does not need to have her ID out, she's a minor."

Dad: "How do you know she's a minor if you don't look at her ID?"

.... (silence as everyone waits for answer)....

Dad again: "Kind of a hole in the system, isn't it?"

TSA Officer, voice lowered ... "There are a LOT of holes in the system, sir." ... walks away.

Young girl, "Good one, dad. Now tell her our name is LADEN and see what happens!"

More like this

Something I always wanted to ask one of the TSA officers: If Richard Reid had stuffed C4 into the crotch of his baggy pants would we all be dropping our drawers every time we tried to to board a plane today?

At least your first name isn't Ben.

A few years ago while waiting for a flight out of Melbourne (or was it Sydney) the woman sitting next to me in the lounge broke out laughing and said "did you hear that?" (I didn't know what she was talking about because I was reading a book.) "They were paging an Al Kyder and a Terry Wrist." It was a stunt by a pair of TV comedians.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 30 Jul 2009 #permalink

oh that is a new one MadScientist. I've some .wav files from the internet where two comedians (claim they) did the same with a bunch of other funny, if said aloud, combination of names.

By Who Cares (not verified) on 30 Jul 2009 #permalink


Have you forgotten that in the early days of Abteilung der Heimatsicherheit ('Department of Homeland Security' is the English translation) airline passengers had to drop their pants and take off their shoes? Officials won't admit why they stopped the depantsing, but I suspect all it would take to kill that policy would be a few passengers going commando.


Yes, I must confess, I've forgotten removing my pants. When and where did this occur? And was I wearing my Spidey undies?

Here's my airport security story from a few years ago:

When leaving for a trip to England, the self-check-in computer said to check with the ticketing agent. I figured it was because I was traveling overseas, and they want to know you showed your passport to someone before getting a boarding pass.

The dude entered my passport info into the computer, said "Oh!" That's not something you want to hear at the airport. Then he picked up the phone, said he had to check with someone.

I showed up the recommended 2 hours before my flight, so I wasn't worried about the delay. I mostly didn't pay attention until I heard the phrase "He's attempting to use an American passport." That got my attention.

The flight was right before Christmas. I'm thinking I may get to spend the holidays in a nice warm place, like maybe Guantanamo.

I'm not kidding, he was on the phone for at least 10 minutes before (eventually!) handing back my passport with a cheerful(!) "You're cleared to fly!"

And no, they don't tell you what the discussion was about.

Yes, I must confess, I've forgotten removing my pants. When and where did this occur?

Same old story

My brother recently changed his name by deed pole to Ben Laden. He reckons it's the best thing he ever did because he gets a lot less hassle. I just can't understand why our Peter did this.

By George Phile (not verified) on 31 Jul 2009 #permalink

When all this airport BS started I took 10mins to think of all the ways to smuggle stuff on board. It is REALLY full of holes, big wide gapping ones. Its only done to 'rub the tummies' of the general terrified dumb schite puplic.
I'd love to go thru a detector and be told to take my pants off.....Next time I use a plane I'm not wearing underwear and will hope....I'm a fat, white headed, wrinked dirty OLD man....OH!!!! the shock!!! they will get. I could bring an end to the practice on my own. At the very least getting a few to gag as I turn around for inspection of the.....

Gee, how fun, coming up with "gotchya!" statements and assailing them against folks who make 30,000$ a year. Hopefully, the TSA agents who have to hear these clever observations will pass them along to their higher-ups rather than just bitch about them to their spouses...either way, I'm sure their work-days are much more enjoyable.

Take it down a notch, Rich. The whole conversation was enjoyed by all.

Yes, of course, I'm at fault here. I apologize.

By rich lawler (not verified) on 31 Jul 2009 #permalink

I read an article today in the San Francisco Chronicle about three baggage handlers who were convicted for stealing items out of luggage in San Francisco.

In an April Oregonian article two baggage handlers for Northwest were arrested in Portland for stealing 100s of items out of luggage.

In a USA Today article in March eight baggage handlers for Delta were arrested in Detroit for stealing items out of luggage.

Last November an article about LAX on CBS2.com noted that thirty baggage handlers had been arrested for stealing over the prior nine months.

The Oregonian also noted that since 2003 over 500 TSA employees have been fired for theft from luggage. In addition since 2003 there have been over 70,000 complaints of luggage tampering.

Has it occurred to TSA that if baggage handlers are taking items out of luggage they could just as easily be putting items into luggage?

@CybrgnX: Yes, there are numerous holes in the system and only clueless people would believe we're being made safer. The biggest hole is that there are now armed monkeys on board - great "thinking" there, just provide terrorists with weapons on board. I haven't seen stories about firearms being left in the toilets lately so I would assume that such stories are being suppressed rather than believe firearms are no longer being left lying about the aircraft.

@Rowan: TSA handlers can do whatever they please - loot your suitcases, plant items ... and they're above the law it seems.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 31 Jul 2009 #permalink

The only winning move is not to fly.

Here is the current dumbness that caught me:

I accidentally went through security with water still in my Nalgene (gasp!). So there are two identical trash cans; one on the 'outside' of the scanner station and one on the 'inside'. Outside/Inside meaning that they are roughly 12 feet apart, separated by nothing more than air. Both cans are located on the same wall, the actual screeners sit dead center between both cans.

When the oh-so-alert screener caught my attempt to breach security I asked if I could just dump the water out in the 'inside' can. She said, "No. I can't allow that, you will have to carry the container back outside dump it in that can and then come back through the detector."

Now for the funniest part: I was carrying a walking cane made of ironwood (really sweet cane) that I bought while out of the country. I train/teach a weapons system based on blunt and edged weapons. The cane is an absolutely brutal weapon when used properly.

So, should I decide to kill a few people with the 4' hooked piece of ironwood they let me carry on board without a second glance, I will be sure to hydrate properly beforehand since I won't have my water.


By Jawallaby (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

But the real question to TSA is: "are we winning the war against toothpaste?"

We've already won the war against snow-globes, finally, FINALLY making the world safe against those nefarious snow-globe-wielding terrorists.

Okay, maybe that wasn't the goal going into the GWOT, but I can understand the attitude of taking any ray of sunshine they can get.

By Snarki, child … (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

We've already won the war against snow-globes, finally

That's a good thing.

Has anyone seen the Bill of Rights Security Edition ...


for that extra attention at the airport.

I wonder if anyone has the brass to carry that through security.

By anonymous canuck (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

I carried mine around until it went through the laundry. I got it at the state fair. The state fair is coming up again, so I'll get a new copy.

(Where they are free... the ones that cost money must be plasticized... )

I have carried my BoR security edition inside my pocket-sized copy of the Constitution for at least 7 years, probably 30-40 flights. No one has ever said a word. They bitched about my retractable RJ45 cable, though.

The most deadly weapon is between your ears.

By neophiliac (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

@greg the BoR security edition is metal. I'm sure it'll set off the detectors.

By anonymous canuck (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

I usually have a button on my backpack that reads "bullshit-free zone".

The most common reaction (assuming that they react at all) is an apologetic half-grin, with a comment along the lines of "sorry, Sir, we don't have that here".

@2: to be fair, a lot of places where I've seen that type of sign, it say that people who APPEAR to be under 30 years of age will be carded, which is slightly different.

Now for the funniest part: I was carrying a walking cane made of ironwood (really sweet cane) that I bought while out of the country.

You don't say what specific kind of ironwood you mean but I suspect you mean black ironwood. It's an endangered rainforest wood that's illegal to export from most countries where it grows.

I doubt any wildlife officers will stop you on the street but I don't think I would we walking through any airports with it...

To all of you smarty-pants, Rich Lawyer is completely right. People who work at airports, TSA or otherwise, make ridiculously low wages in relation to the responsibility and stress they endure. You should be thanking them for being vigilant and taking their jobs seriously rather than finding "holes" in the system. Regarding that "humorous" example of the father and daughter, you don't state her real age so how do we know if she was ten years old or 17 years 11 months old? To the guy carry the stick-- you'd have complained if you'd been told to check it -- and either way it isn't funny. The funny thing to remember is that more than likely airline personnel won't be flying on your flight, so what's it to them if it explodes, or a dodgy person boards or whatever??? So next time you have a minor inconvenience at the airport try to thank the workers instead of being giving them grief.

By Ubea_Jacques_Azzez (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

Now for the funniest part: I was carrying a walking cane made of ironwood (really sweet cane) that I bought while out of the country.

You don't say what specific kind of ironwood you mean but I suspect you mean black ironwood. It's an endangered rainforest wood that's illegal to export from most countries where it grows.

I doubt any wildlife officers will stop you on the street but I don't think I would be walking through any airports with it..

Ubea_Jacques_Azzez, pretending there aren't problems gets us what exactly? Pretending TSA agents are too dumb to know there are holes in their protocols shows them respect how? What would you prefer we do instead of talking to them about the absurdity of the situation everyone finds themselves in while flying, salute?

Stephanie Z. I don't think you get it. TSA agents KNOW there are "holes" in the system but they are usually two-footed and carrying over-sized carry-on bags who aren't trying to "talk" about the "absurdity of the situation" but make rude and narky comments directed at them. Re-read my comment, at no point do I state nor imply that they are they "dumb" but that the public should show them common courtesy. If you have issues with the system don't take it out on them contact the TSA website with your input.

By Ubea_Jacques_Azzez (not verified) on 07 Aug 2009 #permalink

Ubea_Jacques_Azzez, it sounds to me like you work for the TSA. What I would say is that if you work for a company, that is an implicit personal alignment with the companies actions. When you say that people shouldn't "take it out on them" but rather contact the larger parent organisation, there is the implicit suggestion that works cannot be held responsible for the actions of their company, which is a position I cannot agree with. If you think that your company is doing something wrong, or harmful, you can campaign against it, or vote with your feet. i.e. resign. I agree that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and politeness, but employees cannot shirk or defuse responsibility because they are employees. If you work for the TSA, you are, in some small way, responsible for what the TSA does, and you should expect to answer for that.

Gerg: no, that's ironwood as in American Hornbeam, it apparently grows all over the Eastern US. My Dad pointed it out on numerous occasions throughout our hiking trips. Search: ironwood cane and you'll find similars.


Except that:

TSA agents don't really have any significant actual responsibility other than looking officious and acting serious. Counterintuitively, the risk of hijackings and violence on planes dropped massively after 9/11.

There isn't any rule that says terrorists have to blow up planes. They can just as well blow up buses, gas subways, gun down hotel guests or use millions of other forms of violence. Sure planes can crash but a competent poision gas attack in a subway or building ventalation system would kill even more. The only reason we needed special screening for airline passangers is that airlines could be hijacked and diverted with threats of violence in ways buses and subways can't. However, the mere public awareness of 9/11 means it's no longer possible to brandish a gun on a plane and have any of your demands met. Now that the passangers expect a successful hijacking to mean their death trained commandos armed with assault rifles would be hard pressed to retain control of an aircraft.

The rational reaction to 9/11 would have been to drastically reduce airport screening of passengers. More damningly most of the truly annoying security measures (liquids) were implemented only after incompetent but well publisized plots despite the (public) discovery years earlier of more sophisticated plans in the same vein.

So sure the above commenters would probably have complained loudly if the TSA had made them jump through the opposite set of hoops and they would have been no less justified. The whole TSA system of tax dollars to force citizens to jump through pointless hoops while distracting us from the very real need to secure chemical plants.

After all the redcoats quartered in US homes had much more stressful jobs and we shot them for the inconvenience they imposed. Accepting money to inconvenience americans while making them less safe doesn't give you much credit in my book.

Though of course ultimately the people who really should be blamed are the voters who fall for this crap.

@ reply 2:
Where I live, the bars say they will card anyone "who looks under 30", which isn't a hole. It is not a perfect system, but its a decent risk/benefit choice

@anonymous canuck: I've been carrying mine around for a couple of years now and no one's noticed it. So far as I know it's never even set off a metal detector.

Now the button that holds the waistband of my pants together, that's a different matter entirely...

So if the article is by you (Laden) but it was overheard, was the daughter yours? Apparently, since she said to tell them your name is Laden. So who did the overhearing? Is your name even actually Laden? Was the girl ten or 17? Pretty lame story.

TruePath, thank you for you eloquent posting. Too bad only about 2% of people think and reason like you do.

I've avoided flights as much as possible since 9/11/2001. But, I'm flying to Germany with my daughter soon, and I'm dreading the process. She's studying there for 11 months, so we're taking maximum luggage and a year's worth of prescription medicines. I have bipolar disorder, so I'll have to load up on tranquilizers before arriving at the airport (otherwise, I'll probably unload streams of verbal abuse at officious and intrusive TSA and customs snoops).

Talking of walking sticks, I was passing through Auckland (New Zealand) airport on route to Fiji, I was using a walking stick, while waiting for two hip replacements. The security guy took my walking stick off me to X-Ray to see if I had anything hidden inside it, then instructed me to walk thru the scanner. I told him I needed the walking stick to walk with and he told me to do the best I could so I immediately touched the sides of the walkthrough scanner which made all hell break out, buzzers, flashing lights etc. I was told that you can't touch the scanner, so I told him I couldn't walk without the walking stick. That was what the "walking" bit of it was about. He told me again I would have to anyway because those were the rules. I just stood there and told him I wanted to see his supervisor. I got it sorted out with someone who had brains fortunately, got a profuse apology.
When I came back thru customs 10 days later I was pulled out and had the full security check, opened my bags and hand searched all my clothes including the seams, wiped my credit cards and bottom of my bags for drugs etc. Nobody said anything about me being over on duty free goods nor searched me. I had my narcotic painkiller supply in my pocket. I never mentioned it because of the hassle.

By ScooterNZ (not verified) on 13 Aug 2009 #permalink

Many years ago at work they posted a large sign saying "Is your badge visible?". I couldn't help writing on the sign, "Have you ever seen an invisible badge?"

I look forward with gleeful anticipation to the day where an Amercian TSA agent asks me (British) to remove my "pants".

I shall remove my *trousers* and hand over my _underpants_ whilst looking them straight in the eye.

"Be careful what you wish for...you might get it!"

I don't agree that employees should be immune from being asked or questioned about stupid, pointless, or criminal policies they're told to commit, likewise I don't think that employees should be immune from ridicule about the stupid, pointless, or criminal policies they're told to commit.

When fascist violations of our rights, liberties, and freedoms is being inflicted upon us by mindless, under-paid drones "merely following orders," even minor resistance and ridicule is wholly legitimate. By making the mindless drones hate their jobs, the fascist State must pay better wages or find someone even dumber to take the job -- which leads to further stupid acts committed against us which leads to greater exposure of the fascism and its underlying stupidity.

Provisional respect is automatically granted as the defacto mode of behavior in Westernized socities however respect is something that either has to be earned or has to be exhibited as deserved.

People grant provisional respect and when it's shown that someone is not deserving of respect, respect is retracted. That's the way the human species operates, hard-wired in to our brains.

So it is with people who prostitute themselves by serving a fascist regime; they have already evidenced themselves as undeserving of any respect for what they do, and pointing out the stupidity of what they're doing becomes a matter of duty.

My opinions only, and only my opinions, as always.


You are probably right. However, I do want to point out that none of the comments in this thread about "treatment" would have ever been made if the commenters were present at the time. Now, to some extent this is because I did not describe the conversation with the kind of detail one would need to know that at no point could the employee ever have been offended at what I said. That is not because I did not describe the event well, but rather, because I did not describe the even that way because it was not my intention to do so.

So the comments are interesting and the argument is valid (and I tend to side with Fredric on this) but none of this has anything to do with what happened.

Therefore, this whole discussion also serves as an example of something else.

That is funny. There are some far bigger holes in security than that though! Did you hear about the guy who shut down Newark Airport when he crossed a security corden to give his girlfriend a kiss? The guard had just walked away from his station.