The Stupidity Continues But This Time They’re Proud Of It

TSA is promoting their prowess at seizing liquids at security checkpoints. Great catch! They’ve rounded up liquids and gels over 3 ounces and placed them in one spot together to be photographed.

But where is the hazmat team? If these items were dangerous you wouldn’t think they’d be kept near he security checkpoint and passengers, let alone held together. There would be dangerous materials protocols. Except even the TSA doesn’t believe these liquids are dangerous. They’re seizing liquids because the rules say to do so, not because it keeps anyone safe.

Some of you will reflexively respond that since there haven’t been terrorist attacks on airplanes, everything the TSA does must be great. Except even the TSA itself doesn’t think this. They accidentally filed documents in court admitting that there haven’t been any attempts on planes (rather than those attempts being foiled) and that there aren’t, in fact, active threats to U.S. aviation.

The TSA also conceded that it isn’t its procedures at security checkpoints, but hardened cockpit doors and a willingness of passengers to fight back, that makes a repeat of 9/11 unlikely. Our safety in the sky has nothing to do with the War On Water which has been waging for longer than World Wars I and II combined plus the Korean War.

Remember though that if you freeze your liquids, they’re no longer liquid and can pass through as a solid. But take care that the liquid doesn’t melt or else it can be confiscated.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Valid observation, but keep in mind that 5972 firearms were discovered by TSA in 2021. That’s more than 16 per day.

    Pet peeve – gun owners should always know where their weapons are and not ‘forget’ that they are in their carryons.

  2. The ridiculous 3oz rule was put into effect so ma and pa kettle would have the perception of safety. I’ve mentioned this before but I was with a number of atf agents shortly after this rule went into practice and they thought it was a useless gesture.

  3. The threat was from hydrogen peroxide based explosives that would be mixed on-board or after security. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean that the knowledge of how to do it still isn’t out there, apparently it isn’t that difficult. And it doesn’t take that much to bring down an airliner – as little as half a kilo. If there were a way for scanners to easily detect it, I’m sure they would lift the ban.

    Now I’m sure I’m on some sort of government watchlist because of all those Google searches.

  4. Yesterday at the CLT pre-check lane I witnessed what I presume was a TSA officer coming on shift who put three large Gatorade bottles (full, not empty) through the X-ray machine. Then she picked them up off the belt and went into the small cubby office. Rules for thee but not for me.

  5. Some protection is better than none. I’m not bragging on the TSA but if we went back to 1970 where people could just walk on a plane with any weapon they could hide we’d be in worse trouble.

  6. What angers me is twenty years later we’re still taking off our shoes or for that matter practically disrobing while the shoe bomber and his copy cat diaper man are sitting in prison with three squares and better medical care than I have. This country cant get anything right. It’s just a show for the public.

  7. You have no way of knowing whether the containers on display were tested for hazardous content before they were arranged at the table. If the question “where is the hazmat team?” implies that a hazmat team should sit permanently (and expensively) idle behind this display, I would suggest that they have better things to do.

    The purpose of the display is to remind travelers what they cannot bring through security. Obeying these rules is both the law and a condition of carriage. If there is any stupidity here, it is not on that table.

  8. I think the intent of the Twitter pic is to raise awareness of the 3.4 oz rule, not that TSA is “proud” to have confiscated so many oversize liquids.

  9. Never understood the 3 oz rule. One 3.1 oz container bad, but three 2.9 oz containers okay?!! (I can just mix them after security theater. Plus, if the liquid is actually a dangerous substance at 3.1 oz, would it also not be pretty much as dangerous at 2.9?

  10. Rules are the rules. Those who meant to harm the public; they are just waiting for our guards to be down. A knowledgeable chemist make make hell of a cocktail with liquids. I still think it’s necessary.

  11. TSA is a federal jobs program, nothing more. Agents care about breaks, pay raises, and retirement, not about air safety.

    TSA routinely fails 97% of the tume when DHS Red Teams do random inspections.

    “But…there hasn’t been a Zombie Apocalypse, Alien Abduction, or Meteorite Strike, so TSA must be necessary and effective, right?”

  12. @Tom – “You have no way of knowing whether the containers on display were tested for hazardous content before they were arranged at the table. I”

    Except I do know checkpoint procedure, and I watch bottles of water tossed into a bin all day long, and see them pile up beside checkpoints

  13. So much of trying to make it look like they are doing something to keep us safe. When unfortunately they are really not prepared for Anything. Just have to hope for the best and be as vigilant as one can be.

  14. Hi Gary, the cocktail I’m referring to is are not alcoholic beverages. They are explosives, corrosives, and stink/ smoke bombs.

  15. The greater danger to the public are the germ ridden shoes they put in the same tub with other things.. just imagine how unhygienic this is. I never use the disgusting tubs and put everything in my backpack. I don’t take je shoes off since I have tsa pre. It’s ridiculous they don’t let you take bottled water. They can have you take a sip to prove its not dangerous.

  16. @mIKE
    how many 3oz bottles of hydrogen peroxide does it take to make a bomb? Passengers are allowed up to 32oz total. How many jihadis are needed to bring enough of the liquid on board to blow up the plane?

  17. Someone got paid to set all that up for a photo op….using our tax dollars….

    I wouldn’t mind as much if it actually was helping aviation security. TSA will always be known for advertising employment on pizza boxes

  18. The TSA’s war on water and other generally harmless liquids continues. The TSA’s shoe carnival continues. The TSA — and its equivalent in too many places — add layer upon layer of stupidity to the screening process. And the “trusted traveler” idea is also part and parcel of keeping in place the stupid screening junk.

  19. @Joanie Adams — Your youth is showing. Those of us 65 and older do not have to remove our shoes.
    @ Peter Fischer — Bravo for pointing out the silliness of the 3.4 oz limit with respect to hydrogen peroxide.
    The smallest retail container of yogurt is too large to pass the TSA inspection. For years I’ve had to put my yogurt in a plastic medicine bottle that meets the “liquid” requirement.
    At least at Dulles there are convenient water fountains where passengers can fill empty bottles and avoid paying sports arena prices for bottled water.

  20. Actually, it’s not three “ounces”. The internationally-agreed upon size limit is 100 ml. This is dumbed down in the USA (the only country that refuses to use the metric system) to “3 ounces”. 100 ml actually becomes 3.381 oz.

  21. @ carletonm (and others)

    And fluid ounces not ounces (volume not mass), perhaps also dumbed down in the USA.

    Also, presumably US fluid ounces (and not Imperial). Not only won’t the US accept the scientific standard metric system like everyone else in their everyday lives, they also seem to need to have their own definition for a good old fashioned fluid ounce. Dumbed down and dumb!

    @ joanie adams

    You may be right or wrong about the benefit of removing shoes. But consider that you will never actually know how many “copycat” events which have been prevented. Number of shoes hiding stuff found at TSA checkpoints does not tell you how many such events have been stymied at source.

    FWIW it seems to me far more daft that folk in the US rock up to airport security with their guns claiming they forgot they had them. That combined with the reported failure rate of TSA, is the real scary part. I have witnessed an airport security checkpoint fail a random test when failing to detect a firearm.

  22. I hope they donated these items to a homeless shelter vs taking them home or trashing them!!!

  23. I once was so jet lagged I went through the security to enter LHR 5 in precheck mode, and paid for my mistake with a pat down and detailed scrutiny of my Dopp kit. To my horror, my hair gel was 3.8oz. Confiscated after a lecture. Between that and having to stand in another long line at Boot’s, I was unable to visit the lounge. I will try not to be so irresponsible in the future.

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