Fines, Fines, Everywhere I Go…

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.

You can be fined for 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.

  1. You might be surprised who is on the terrorist watch list. The whole system makes no sense. It is inconsistent and violates human dignity (except for the very privileged) every time one chooses to fly.

  2. the real reason they don’t post the fines is they’d be posted by the same sign painter that’s told us for years that it’s “fine for littering” on a given road

  3. Small airports seem to have the most intense TSA screenings (well, Love doesn’t, actually). San Antonio and Austin are both quite adept at pissing me off.

  4. TSA screeners are like any other government employees: they feel justified fining people who complain or show “bad attitude” much the way some employees take office supplies home when they feel they deserve more recognition than their employer gives them.

    That’s why we have to fight these laws in the first place. Selective enforcement is unfair on its face. The only thing worse is a bad law that doesn’t get repealed because it is rarely enforced. If it is unjustified, it must be fought even though you think it will never happen to you.

    Unpopular and vulnerable people (terrorists, aliens, the poor, minorities and others) are canaries in the coal mine of civil rights. When they start losing their inalienable rights, we’re next.

  5. “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.”

    And therein lies the dilema. Until enough people put up a fuss, or simply stop flying altogether, little to nothing will change. It’s tough to do, no doubt, but I am becoming more and more convinced that the only recourse may be mass action. The politicians won’t change it until votes are at stake and airlines won’t complain until $$$ are at stake.

  6. Sandra: “I’ll bet the airport is a good place to get petition signatures.”

    Perhaps, but it would more than likely get you detained on “suspicious activity” or some such nonsense. Welcome to America, the Bullyocracy.

  7. More gov’t intrusion. When does it stop? Already, the US gov’t steals private lands, suspends habeas corpus, bans books like “America Deceived” from Amazon, conducts warrant-less wiretaps and starts illegal wars based on lies. Now they bleed us to death by taxes (in the form of fines), the taxpayer death from a thousand cuts.
    Forget MSM, support indy media.
    Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gestapo and drops the title):

  8. I’ll bet the airport is a good place to get petition signatures.

    You’re likely to be run off by security.

    Also, you’ll have many people outside of whatever jurisdiction you are petitioning for (or who say they are) and lots of people in too much of a hurry.

    If you can get past all that, you might do OK.

  9. Remember the Hare Krishnas and the Larouchies? The airport authorities would give them a little out of the way booth for their freedom of speech, lest they impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.

    But I think that was before we had “serious” security. Now there are lots of bored people waiting in line with nothing to do. You’d probably get arrested or run off, but if you don’t impede the lines you may be able to make a serious case of freedom of speech court case, with no “compelling government interest” to stop you — or at least get some publicity.

    If the target jurisdiction is local and populous, a significant fraction of line-waiters will be from there. The people who are just changing flights do their damnedest to avoid going leaving the secured area (and having to run the gauntlet again), so I figure almost half are starting a round-trip at this airport and almost half are going home. The small remainder are in the midst of a multiple-stopover trip.

  10. If only we had national level petitions, lots of folks would sign something to make security less demeaning and time-consuming. Even recall you-know-who if we could.

  11. Michelle,
    you’re too analytical. This thinking and
    reasoning stuff offends people
    in the goverment, bureaucratic androids who
    want and need your money.
    Me no complain.
    Me good slave.
    Me watch Fox News.

  12. They should give every passenger a “club-like weapon” as they board, if they really want to make flights safe.

  13. I say a set of 20 Glock 9mm’s are given out to random passengers. All with FMJ rounds that everyone knows will penetrate the pressure barrier of the plane. That way, if someone decides to take it over, they have to find 20 random passengers with an unknown level of gun proficiency, and then disarm them… The chaos factor should keep “terrorists” off major airlines…

    Now, the real issue of industrial trucking would still have to be addressed, since there is no screening process of US highways… Maybe there should be a US agent in every truck???

  14. I have a large cane that could be used to knock the livin’ crap outa someone. Does that count as a club like thingy?

  15. Hell no.

    Also, I’ve heard you can no longer bring water, so if you’re thirsty, you’ll just have to wait for the stewardess to come around and pay fora drink.

  16. …would somebody please explain what “non-physical contact” means?

    A judge threatened a friend of mine with “silent contempt” for “glaring” at a police officer.

  17. Your friend must have had a bad attitude, or perhaps even been smart (which is a bad thing, to cops).

  18. WesP — Re: National-level petitions;

    It turns out that if a majority of the state-level house of representatives vote an issue into effect, then it is required per Monroe’s Procedural doctrine that the US Representative recognize and endorse their action. Three states are now calling for an impeachment of the POTUS through this. Have been for quite some time. It’s being ignored, of course.

    The State Houses of representatives have to heed petitions put to them, especially if voter initiatives pass on that level.

    Get that going on a national level, and while indirect, it DOES exist. Just got to bring this to the light of day. :)

  19. Hmmm, these fines sound like another form of taxation to me, kind of like state lotteries. The difference is one is voluntary taxation and the other is not. Either way, government is able to generate revenue without raising income taxes or general sales taxes. It would be interesting to know how much as been raised nationwide from these fines. Maybe this is how the Bush administration is funding the Iraq War?

  20. Regarding “America Deceived” It was NEVER available via Amazon or B&N. It was published via “Fast Track” at (a subsidiary of B&N, btw) IT WAS NEVER BANNED FROM ANYWHERE

    The author choose not to have it released via B&N or Amazon per iUniverse. Political motivation or just a cheapskate? You decide.

    If you would like, you can call them yourself and ask. The phone number for iUniverse is 1-800-AUTHORS. No, really, call them and ask if it was ever distributed by Amazon or B&N and they will tell you it wasn’t as it was a “fast Track” publication.

    It is the speculation of this commenter that the author of the previous comment is actually the author of the book looking for some easy publicity via blogs. A google search on “America Decieved” will bring up hundreds of very similary comments, but all have the link to iUniverse in them and the tag line “Final link (before Google Books bends to gov’t will and drops the title)”.