Travel News for Freedom Lovers

In what can only be described as a defining Bob Woodward moment, a Homeland Security Department official leaked news that could only be presented Deep Throat style:

Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley on Friday will announce changes to the list of items prohibited in carry-on luggage and to the airport screening process, according to the official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity (emphasis emphatically added) because the plan has yet to be announced.

The government may actually allow us to travel with cigar clippers, nail clippers, and the tiny pot metal scissors some hotels provide in their sewing kits. I know, I know –the TSA has a list which says some of these items are already allowed. Tell this to government security goons who took my cigar clipper at Phoenix Sky Harbor, my nail clippers at Reagan National, or my hotel sewing kit at La Guardia. Tell it to the little old lady in front of me in the security line at LAX who had her crochet needles seized. I’m sure the little booties she was making were going to be shipped to bin Laden as soon as she landed. (mental note: Call my parents before they fly back from California and let them know they might be able to get a corkscrew on the plane.)

As frequent flier smokers will attest, they may well take your Bic lighter. This is to stop those terrorists with a sudden urge for an inflight cigarette dead in their tracks, apparently. Fortunately, the TSA spends billions to protect us from second-hand terrorist smoke. Travelers should also avoid checking or carrying sex toys when flying in and out of Alabama, as they are illegal there.

A BBC report makes me wonder if banning crochet needles is taking security far enough. After all, our country is still at risk from nail clipper wielding maniacs.

But many flight attendants believe that while such objects could not be used to carry out a 9/11 style hijacking, the items could still be used as weapons to injure other passengers or crew members.

“When weapons are allowed back on board an aircraft, the pilots will be able to land the plane safely, but the aisles will be running with blood (emphasis emphatically added again),” said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants.

That’s right, folks – the aisles will be filled with blood because of crazies wielding disposable razors.

While things might be lightening up at the TSA a bit, don’t forget about U.S. Customs. Declan McCullagh informs us that customs officials now read blogs. (mental note: I need to contact co-blogger Michelle, as she is on her way back from Thailand at this moment and probably took a laptop with her.) He must have met some brighter customs officials than I have:

Customs official: I see you have a bunch of cigars which have no bands on them. Are they from Cuba?

Moi: Of course not, officer. As I don’t have much money, I took this trip all the way to Cancun to buy a bunch of local factory rejects.

McCullagh writes:

Hossein Derakhshan, who writes a blog on, said in a post last week that he’s “homeless” because he was prevented from re-entering the country. Derakhshan says he was born in Tehran and then moved to Toronto, Canada in December 2000.

The United States, of course, requires a visa for foreign citizens who want to live here permanently.

So when the border guards found a Newsweek magazine labeled with his name and a New York City address, coupled with the I-live-in-the-Big-Apple contents of his blog, they were suspicious and denied him entry for six months, Derakhshan says.

McCullagh then goes on to tell the tale of my personal friend (and Libertarian Party goober-natorial candidate) Loretta Nall’s border harassment on a return trip from Canada. Like many of her stories, this one fits into the “must read” category. While you are at it, be sure to catch The Great Prison Panty Rebellion of Alabama article, too. Nall is a good writer, and she provides us with yet another in a long list of reasons not to visit Alabama. Here is another. To bring us back on topic, they searched the contents of Nall’s laptop which forced her to miss her flight.

Reminds me, I better clean all those porn anti-Patriot Act links off my laptop before my next flight.

  1. I was so molested by TSA on the outbound that my husband, who was watching from 20 feet away, was pissed. He felt like the agent felt more of my breast than he had that day. I did wonder if my opinions/ party affiliation had anything to do with the rigorous search.

  2. Hm, I didn’t post about this because the actual news component here is old. And I’m amazed at the stupidity of the press, just printing whatever the government “anonymous sources” say, as if they didn’t run this same story a month ago.

    But customs officials do indeed read blogs. They’ve been reading mine for some time now. I wonder if I’m on the “no-fly” list yet?

  3. NPR did a story on this last night, as always they did thier patented “he said-she said” routine. this time the counterpoint was from some flight attendant (stewardess, there i said it!) rep who invoked… wait for it…yep, “9/11” to say that no restrictions should be lifted.

    i travel quite a bit, mostly international, and am amazed at the quality of airport security in places like the netherlands, france, spain, and japan. and i never have to remove my shoes or take my laptop out of the bag.

    americans are sheep.

  4. Rev,

    Everytime I stand in the security check line at a domestic airport, all is see is a long slow moving line of sheep, most of whom would just as easily follow the person in front of them directly to the slaughter house.