Air travel. Since 9/11, the friendly skies have become cloudy…with a chance of firestorm. Making air travel safe is not easy. It’s one of those things in which the very few have ruined it for the very many, so the very many must be subjected to rules designed to ensnare the very few.
I just took my first travel-by-air trip since August. I was most surprised to discover that my lip gloss, which I keep zippered up in a small cloth bag in my purse, was unacceptable. Yes, it was less than 3 oz…a mere 0.2 in fact. How did my lip gloss offend? It was not in a plastic bag.
I was told that my lip gloss had to be in a plastic bag, or I would not be able to take it on the flight. I had no other toiletries on me that required special treatment (no lotion, no liquid makeup, no perfume). The only questionable item was my lip gloss. And the current regulation is that it must be in a quart-size plastic bag. This regulation was enforced even though I was already through the x-ray machine, and it had been established that my only offending item was my 0.2 of lip gloss. I could not leave the security area without putting my lip gloss in a plastic bag…even though I was through security and was on my way to my gate.
There’s more to the story. This was actually my second time through security. I had completely forgotten about the liquid ban and had packed a couple of bottles of wine to share with my in-laws. Silly moi. The good folks at TSA made jokes about how we could all share the wine, but made it clear I couldn’t carry it on the plane (I could have checked it in, though). I called my son, who had dropped us off at the airport, and he came back and retrieved the bottles.
The thing is…no one mentioned my lip gloss the first time through. So I was a bit surprised when it became an issue the second time around.
But second time’s a charm, and the guy reading the x-ray machine saw it. What seems silly to me is to make me put the lip gloss in a plastic bag after the fact…My belongings have been scanned, I’ve been screened…but I can’t leave the security area without putting my lip gloss in a plastic bag.
One tries to be patient with these regulations, and how they are enforced, yet I had great difficulty disguising my disgust. The TSA rep holding my lip gloss captive had no better attitude–she was annoyed but held fast as I called my travelling companion (already through security) to return to security with the plastic bag I had packed…just in case.
These regulations come and go, ebb and flow like the tide. During most of the time since 9/11/01, it has been possible to bring all manner of liquid through security. The recent threat of explosives necessitated an immediate ban on all liquid, but since September 26 that has loosened somewhat. The deal now is that you can bring certain items, but they must be in a zippered plastic bag, a fact which must delight the good people at the SC Johnson Company (they make Ziploc bags).
Unlike LAX, the good folks at XNA (Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport) had boxes of Ziploc bags at the ready for travellers like me who understand the concept of putting all of one’s liquid/lotion/gel items in one plastic bag for quick review, but struggle to understand why even one item, far less than 3 oz and contained in a cloth pouch, must be transferred to a plastic bag after it has gone through the x-ray machine.