You guys know how much I hate the TSA’s knee jerk reactions to perceived risks. One day lip gloss is banned from carry-on luggage, the next day it can be carried in a one quart Ziplock bag. Screening is not consistent. One example: Anil used my laptop bag for a business trip. Leaving Dallas, the bag was x-rayed and he was allowed to proceed without question. On his return, the screeners in Midland/Odessa found a small sample size perfume container. Pulled aside for more rigorous screening, Anil politely explained that the perfume (and other feminine products) belonged to his wife, and that he had not realized the bag contained them. Then he threw out the offending liquid. No biggie, right? Wrong.
Youfor bringing banned items through airport security.
Most passengers don’t realize that if they take banned items through airport security ““ knowingly or unknowingly ““ they could face as much as $10,000 in fines. Usually the threat is obvious, such as being caught with a loaded gun. But try to pass through metal detectors with a large pair of scissors and a bad attitude and you could be out as much as $1,500.
TSA at DFW, the airport we fly from most, has issued $45,110 in fines. Phoenix Sky Harbor, smaller than DFW, tops the list with a whopping $77,420 in fines. Ms. McCauley, a TSA spokesperson, said that they try to be consistent.
The agency explicitly outlines fine ranges for trying to bring guns, explosives and ammunition on board a plane. It also gives a range for the weapons category, which includes “sharp objects, clublike items and other prohibited items” for a penalty of $250 to $1,500.
Passengers can be fined for their actions, as well. For example, “interference with screening” that includes physical contact could cost a traveler between $1,500 and $5,000, and “nonphysical contact” between $500 and $1,500.
Excuse me, but would somebody please explain what “non-physical contact” means?
And, like red-light violations, you don’t know that you are fined until a letter arrives in your mailbox.
People usually don’t know they’ve been fined until a letter arrives at their homes. In reviewing incident reports, TSA officials consider factors like whether the passenger tried to conceal the item or the “attitude of the violator.”
Ms. McCauley said fliers can fight fines through an informal conversation or a formal hearing. Those who contest the penalties may eventually have to travel to the airport where TSA issued the fine.
Money from the fines goes into the U.S. Treasury General Fund ““ not to TSA. If the violator doesn’t pay, the Department of Treasury takes actions to collect payment, such as withholding the violator’s tax refunds.
This is too much. You can be fined through the mail for an offense you may not know warrants a fine. If you cannot fly to defend yourself at the airport which issued the fine, you must pay. If you don’t pay, the tax man collects. There seems to be a whole lot wrong there. But as wrong as I think it is, I will probably not say it when I am forced to take off my shoes to clear security. I would hate to receive a “nonphysical contact” fine.