In preparation for air travel tomorrow, I’m reviewing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) prohibited items list . . . and I am absolutely flabbergasted.
The list of items prohibited in your carry-on luggage when you pass through security includes hammers, baseball bats, razors, golf clubs, drill bits, realistic replicas of explosives (whatever that means), gel shoe inserts, and snow globes. Now, these are all absurd prohibitions—as are well-known prohibitions on small knives and liquids over three ounces. It’s all another annoying part of the unnecessary security theater we get exposed to now every time we fly.
But I was even more flabbergasted by the things that are permitted. Among the items explicitly allowed in your carry-on luggage are scissors under four inches, ice skates, tennis rackets, tools and screwdrivers under seven inches, lighters (without fuel), and up-to one book of matches (as long as they are not strike-anywhere matches).
So, according to the TSA, a traveler with a two inch pocket knife, drill bit, and gel shoe insert is a serious national security risk, but a traveler with four inch scissors, a seven inch screwdriver, and a book of matches is a-okay. It seems to me that out here in the real world, the second traveler is probably a bigger potential risk. A four inch scissor blade and a sharpened seven inch screwdriver could do a lot more harm than any pocket knife, and a single match could easily cause more damage to a plane than, say, a drill bit.
Of course I don’t intend to bring any of these things, so it’s not really an issue, but you have to wonder about the critical thinking skills of the people establishing our transportation security policies . . . if you didn’t have enough reason to do so already.