Spring Break 2013: That’s not a knife

Photo from L.L. Bean

Remember when I tried to smuggle a shiv into Canada’s Parliament building?

Oops, I did it again, according to the TSA.

A few weeks ago, the TSA announced that small pocket knives would once again be allowed on airplanes. Naturally, the new ruling was as confusing as possible — knives of this size and width, but not these because of blah, blah, blah…

All four of us here in Jenworld adore Swiss Army knives. They’re just so useful. We all have them in varying sizes — mine is was the wee one in the photo, while my dear spouse and daughters have larger, more complicated knives that would have gotten MacGyver out of any situation. When we travel, our knives come in handy — you never know when you’re going to need to file metal or cut down a tree — so we stick them in our checked luggage so that we can have them whenever a situation requiring a knife, scissors, screwdriver, file tweezers, plastic toothpick, etc. comes up.

I was delighted by the TSA’s arbitrary ruling and thus it was that I did not bother to take my knife out of my bag when we flew from Washington Dulles to Las Vegas on March 30. We went through security with no problem.

On our return trip on Tuesday, however, I went through the metal detector, turned to my left to grab my carry-on from the conveyor belt, and saw the TSA employee squinting at my bag on the x-ray screen. Pete’s bag got flagged too.

So we stood there barefoot — oh, I do have some things to say about the shoe policy, just give me a moment to finish this first rant — while a fresh-faced young man went through our stuff. Pete had accidentally left an unopened can of Diet Coke in his bag and it was promptly trashed.

And then the guy told me I couldn’t take my Swiss Army knife onto the plane. You see, the new regulation doesn’t go into effect until April 25, so according to the TSA, those little suckers are still highly dangerous on planes until the 24th. On the 25th, however, they’ll be safe again.

I would have liked to have debated this matter with the airport personnel but didn’t because 1) they’re just doing their jobs and have no say in the matter and 2) we all know how bad things can get if you do challenge the TSA’s authority. (Strip searches, missed planes, arrests.) So I relinquished my notweapon, got my shoes and bag back, and got heck out of there.

I hate having to accept something badly thought-out and poorly executed and I especially hate it when I have to accept it out of fear that a faceless entity will seriously eff up my day. This is the thought that runs through my mind every time I have to take my shoes off in an American airport — but I get to keep them on whenever I go through an airport in another country. One jackhole smuggles a bomb onto a plane and we’re all barefoot and gagging at someone’s foot odor on a steaming summer afternoon in airport security. I still can’t believe the TSA didn’t find a way to make us hand over our underwear after that guy tried to blow up a plane with the contents of his tighty whities. And I am waiting for the day that some woman attempts to stab someone with the underwire from her bra, because the next thing you know, those of us with mammaries will be standing in the security line barefoot and hanging low.

So now I am sans couteau. Luckily, National Jen Day is coming up in a few weeks and Pete has promised to replace my Swiss Army knife. I’m guessing I’ll be getting an upgrade, as he has been mocking my wee weapon for years.

That’s not a knife. THAT’s a knife.

Thus endeth my tales of Spring Break travels. I’ll be back on Monday with more of my usual inanity and randomness.



Share this nice post:
This entry was posted in travel Jen and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Spring Break 2013: That’s not a knife

  1. Jane says:

    Ugh. My joyful March included 7 airplane flights, so I am really understanding your frustrations right now. They opened up my luggage, found my water bottle I’d forgotten about, and I was told that I could drink it, but ONLY if I went back outside of the security area again. There were like 2 sips left.
    Then I’d have to wait in line all over again.

    Really? I can’t just chug it right here??

  2. Ry says:

    Oh, security theatre at its finest! What fun.

    As an aside, I opted out of the creepy naked scan last time I traveled out of RIC. It was very easy - I got a thorough pat down from a nice lady who was respectful and had to look me in the eye. Versus having some perv in another room leering at my form. Anyway, I strongly recommend opting out of the backscatter/millimeter wave scans. Guess what, lemmings? If you all opt out, they’ll quit doing them.

    I got lucky on my way out of Vegas and ended up in the non-backscatter line by chance, where I didn’t even have to get frisked. I guess I was less dangerous leaving Vegas than heading toward it??

    As a former airline pilot (I was employed by the airlines before, on, and after 9/11), I have a lot of thoughts about airline security. A LOT.

  3. Amy Eastlack says:

    Flying is so much more stressful that it used to be. Do I have the right size shampoo to fit in the right size plastic bag? Did I remember to update my expired driver’s license? How long is it going to take me to take off and put on these shoes? Are these undies G rated enough for the naked x-ray machine? Did I remember to take that fifth of gin out of my purse?

    In all seriousness, you are such a talented writer, Jen. I so needed a laugh today. Thank you for providing it.

  4. badness jones says:

    I took the kids to Florida by myself when the boy was one, and he was screaming fit to be tied as we went through security. I had liquid antibiotics for him in my bag, but they didn’t even look - they just ushered us through as fast as they could to get rid of him. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.

    I’m sorry you lost your knife! My sister keeps losing hers at airport security too.

  5. bdaiss says:

    I had a teeny tiny leatherman, extremely similar to your SAK. I used to carry it when I traveled all the time because it had scissors and I used to cross-stitch while flying. Apparently it was still in the bottom of a veryveryvery seldom used pocket of my carry on. I bet I made 2 dozen flights not even knowing I had it. Until, bam, some poor TSA employee was having a boring day and decided he needed my now discontinued leatherman. Ugh. Flying used to be fun. Now it’s just torture.

  6. I haven’t flown since 1994, and I’m sort of glad. I’m sure my brassiere would set off metal detectors and be classified as a dangerous weapon of the sling-shot variety.

  7. ssheers says:

    My daughter was one of about a million teenage girls flying home from a softball tournament in Orlando during spring break. They didn’t confiscate her sunscreen, bug spray, or other liquids, but they inspected everybody’s ponytails.

    It’s nice to know the world is safe from teenage girls’ ponytails!

  8. Cassi says:

    I haven’t flown since 1998, and I’d really rather not. It’s a good thing there’s so much of the US to explore. :-)

  9. I feel your pain. I have to travel withmy c-pap and 99% of the time no one even looks at it - but that 1% of the ime I am escorted to a private room where they swab it down for explosive residue. Geez. And the whole shoes thing is beyond ridiculous.

  10. Sarah says:

    Awww, c’mon! Don’t you want to see if you can wind up on a no fly list too? lol What a pain! I’m not looking forward to our trip driving to FL but then I hear about misadventures with the TSA and reconsider. I love pocket knives that size b/c I can put it on the key chain. Then I have a bigger one in the purse. They really are useful little buggers!

  11. So I should probably NOT pack a knife when I come see you.
    Figures the idiots running the TSA are the same idiots running every other part of our country. Take any reasonable WOMAN and I guarantee they’d whip the whole business into shape.

  12. I’ve lost pocket knives, shampoo, toothpaste, and more. (You already know about the oh-so-dangerous pumpkin butter.) I’d complain more, but when living in VA, I had an acquaintance in Homeland Security who explained a little of the why?!? to calm me down.

    Apparently, while it is perfectly okay to stand barefoot in line at the airport, it is unsafe to ride barefoot on the actual airplane. These are indeed crazy times.

    Also, I hate flying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>