A Word of Warning re: airports, the TSA, and 60 luggage tags

Iron wood specifically reads as metal to those machines.

Came back with a carved wood shark
“What metal thing do you have”
“In here”
There’s nothing metal in there
“Right here in this package”
It’s a wood shark
“No it’s not”
Can I open it?
(Dither dither) “ok”
…it’s a carved wood shark…

They let me go, but now I know!

Couldn’t resist sharing this:

Most of what she says about her work is beyond my understanding, but darned if she doesn’t look good and sound really smart when she says it!

[https://twitter.com/cesicruz/status/1005116401290481664/photo/1](http://(link to actual tweet))


All great stories and why I have not boarded a plane since Sept 5, 2001. I had a return ticket for Sept 11, but as I had inherited my mother’s car I drove home instead and was driving East on I-10 in Louisiana when it all started. I kept having to search for the NPR as I went from one broadcast area to the next, but you would not believe the venom that poped up while looking.

There are at least a dozen unrelated species called “ironwood” each being the hardest local wood. Jumping to a conclusion being a shark that it is Seri Indian sculpture from Mexico that would be I think a species of Mesquite that is quite hard and heavy, but from the Caribbean it would be Lignum Vitae and many others I do not know the species of so well.


Interesting. My most recent experience with that was printable CD-R stacks that the 13-year-old just had to buy cheap at B&H. Big cylindrical stacks of complex organic material that – guess what – also swabbed positive. And it wasn’t even in the kid’s luggage, because he didn’t have room…

The time before that was ages ago in berlin, where the nice young men with loaded weapons asked me if anyone had given me anything for the trip. I had visited with an acquaintance of a friend who had a distant connection to my grandmother, and he worked for a publishing house, and so of course he’d given me a book and of course it was still shrinkwrapped…

But yeah, I wonder whether the laser soot produces some interesting compounds.

True. This was ironwood from the Caribbean. Beautiful dark reddish colour. It reminds me of purple heart from Guyana, but no idea on it’s actual provenance. Possibly Krugiodendron ferreum

On a recent flight i decided to bring my hammock with me. It includes 2 nylon straps that are each 14 ft long. They get stacked on top of each other in the hammock bag. It reads as a large organic mass on the x-ray machine. I had to pull them completly out and show the TSA agent, but only in Atlanta. It didn’t get flagged in Boston. Go Fig ¯_(ツ)_/¯

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Noted. Ask to try the other machine if machine #1 is “wrong”. Got it. Thanks!

Here is my embarrassing one — 2nd trip on an airplane and son was about 2 years old (he is turning 30 this year) — walk through and the machine goes crazy. I got pulled aside and they got out their “wand”… woman scans me beep beep beep beep … you get the idea… and right across the chest where I had sewn metal “conches” on the shirt I had made – to go with the southwest material pattern. Oh I had not seen that coming!!

They were seriously wanting me to step aside and step behind a blanket and take off my shirt. I asked for scissors and said I would cut the stupid things off and they could have them. Luckily they then believed me and let my son and I through. Did NOT wear that shirt on the return trip!

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I had to fly around the country in the weeks after 9/11 to support some clinical trials (our German colleagues were supposed to do it, but only the one who was working in Iran around the time of the revolution didn’t opt out.) I had to hand carry around the devices, no exposed wires, but it was an odd shaped electronic device. Never asked so much as a question. As a bonus I had my luggage hand searched at the Charleston, SC airport. The older gentleman who did it had either worked in a clothing store or just really knew how to fold clothes. My clothes have never been folded that well. It hurt to take them out of my luggage and wear them.

It was the only time I found flying to be enjoyable since airline deregulation. Lately, it hasn’t been as miserable (UK border control excepted) as it was, but still not exactly enjoyable.


Most harrowing airport experience was long before 9/11 but at a time when aircraft bombings and hijackings were frequent. Made the mistake of flying to the eastern Mediterranean with a satchel full of electronics, loose wires, and an almost completed circuit board as carry-on. I was building a prototype device to test on the aircraft carrier Nimitz and planned to complete it in my hotel room. Also traveling with an Israeli Visa. The Greeks were not at all happy with me.

Wasn’t the first time someone has pointed a gun at me. First time in an airport.


Not in the same league, but today I’m flying back from Sioux City Iowa which is not far from the self-proclaimed ice cream capital of the world - La Mars Iowa, home to Blue Bunny ice cream.

Bought a couple of candles for wife & daughter in the Blue Bunny museum store that are in small glass milk bottles. In my luggage they go.

I get to the airport (interestingly enough the airport code is SUX) and the one gate has its own dedicated TSA line. But in addition to the guy on the X-ray who is determined to memorize the contents of every bag (1+ hr to clear a small turboprop’s passengers) , there is a guy whose job is to swab candles.

Like really, does anyone think a tiny little airport in Iowa is going to be the nexus of bomb making terrorists and if so they’re going to fly vs driving wherever they need to go? Or that they’ve infiltrated the Blue Bunny factory and are slipping explosives into unsuspecting tourist bags via museum store candles?


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Should have bought an American Yankee Candle. I hear they are having a blow-out sale.


I just got it for the Blue Bunny linkage. My daughter worked for several years making super-premium ice cream and I figured the Blue Bunny tschotchkes would be a funny compliment to her work memories :slightly_smiling_face:

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Years ago I participated in a Tiger Cruise onboard the USS Pearl Harbor. I purchased a collectable zippo lighter engraved with the ship on it from the ships store. Flying home from Hawaii I packed it in my suitcase. Remember now, it had NO flint, NO fluid…basically an empty case. When I got home it had been removed from my luggage with a note they “confiscated” it. I was told I could have carried it onboard in my purse just fine. Really? So next Tiger Cruise on board the USS Eisenhower I bought the obligatory zippo, went to airport with it in my purse along with a printout from TSA website saying it was an ok item to have. I was loaded for bear and ready for a fight. They didn’t blink an eye.

I do want to add a clarification. I respect and appreciate (almost all of) the TSA workers I encounter, as I travel regularly for work. I also have a special appreciation for what they are doing / attempting to prevent. On September 10, 2001, I boarded a flight from Chicago to New York for work, as we had a series of meetings planned with a potential customer in the NYC area. I checked in to my hotel on Monday day, with a reservation to stay through Friday. My wife was supposed to join me for the trip, but plans changed a few days beforehand.

I got up the next morning, ordered a starbucks in the lobby of the hotel, and walked one block away to my (at the time) employer’s office, on the 36th floor of One Liberty Plaza, and about 30 minutes later, all hell broke loose.

We heard the planes flying into the World Trade Center, and saw first-hand all of the horror of that day. After the second plane hit, we evacuated the building, and I, along with 4 other out of town co-workers, ended up walking across the Brookyn Bridge and then taking a car service to the office manager’s apartment in Brooklyn. The next day, I got literally the last Hertz vehicle at Islip Airport for a long 2-day drive back to Chicago.

Oh, and the hotel I checked into - was indeed the Marriott World Trade Center, between the two towers. I’m SOOOOOO glad that my wife’s plans were changed and she wasn’t travelling with me.

So while we all can get occasionally frustrated with some of the things that happen with the TSA when we travel, I usually try to thank them for the job they are doing, and tell them briefly why I have a special appreciation for what they are doing. (Even when / especially when a bag of mine is pulled aside.) They really seem to appreciate it, because I can only imagine what they probably hear from 99.5% of the travelers they interact with.

My challenge to you all: the next time you are going through airport security, unless an agent does something that not right / not smart / etc. - take an extra 10 seconds and say “Thank you” to them - I will bet it will put a smile on their face, and make a truy difference for them in a typically thankless job.


Definitely – I try to always do that. I wouldn’t want their jobs for twice what they get paid!

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On my numerous trips into US from UK, I’ve got used the yellow card they give me to allow this 75+ year old go through the body scanner without taking his shoes or jacket off.
One guy, on my handing him the card said “You don’t look 75, what’s the secret ?”
I replied, “I’m nearly 80, and my secret it good living…and vodka.” He creased up, which was very nice to see, and said “Funny, I’ve heard that before. Perhaps there’s something in it.”
I reminded him the next time I came through Atlanta, and he remembered.
So sometimes good things happen.
John :upside_down_face:


Once you’re past security, you’re past security for connecting flights and Sioux City should have easy connections through both MSP and ORD. But I’m anti-candle except for power outages.

In May/June of 2010 I went somewhere sunny or sunnyish and then with dad to Alaska for fishing. A bottle of sun screen, well past the 3 oz limit by itself made it through carry-on screening at MSP twice, wherever the other place was and wasn’t caught until some kid who couldn’t have been older than 19 caught it at Anchorage. I didn’t do it deliberately, I just remember thinking it made it through 3 of 4 screenings and someone who just graduated high school is the only one paying attention.

Your quart of contact lens solution is exempt from the 3oz nonsense (because no terrorist ever thought of taking his quart of combustibles and putting it in 3 oz containers labeled shampoo, conditioner, etc).

If I were a terrorist I’d sit off the coast of NJ and log a few RPGs into the monstrous tank sitting on the shore and then haul a** off before anyone caught me. Do you think anyone on the eastern seaboard would believe the govt when it said there was nothing to be concerned with from the burning chemical tanks and the ominous black cloud enveloping the area?

Or the refineries that line the gulf?

Airplanes are the last war. We’ll be hit somewhere else next time and then everyone will gnash their teeth about how we could have been so surprised after having spent so much.

My money is on prevention - the fact we haven’t been seriously hit since 9-11 suggests that at least our intelligence operations are far better at things than we might think (especially since TSA can’t stop 90% of the weapons passing through on tests).

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