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FIX This Mess

So What Happens to All That Stuff?

By Mike Botta

February 27, 2012 – Ever since the Transportation Security Administration, less affectionately known to many as the TSA, started its war on shampoo over a decade ago, air passengers have wondered what happens to all that stuff that they take.

We know a lot of it ends up in the garbage. After all, does anyone really want the ominous-looking partially consumed and potentially gastronomically explosive cup-a-soup that once belonged to a 95-year-old traveler with no teeth?

For all the other stuff, go to this USA Today article ... "Loot Confiscated by TSA Turns into Revenue for States."

Schlepping Schlumps

But, what about all the real important stuff like unopened (or opened, for that matter) bottles of expensive booze that some poor schlump schlepped from a duty-free shop in Germany, Paris or London?

According to the TSA, all liquids over 3.4 ounces is taboo in carry-on luggage, regardless of whether it was purchased duty-free overseas. That does not necessarily apply if the flight is a direct nonstop to your final destination, say, JFK or Newark, but fuggedaboutit if you have a connecting flight from NY to Cleveland, Fargo, El Paso or anywhere else.

‘Reportedly’ and ‘Supposedly’

In the latter case, you pretty much need to surrender your valuable refreshment to the TSA agents on duty. The TSA, in turn, reportedly hands the items over to the airport authority, which reportedly disposes of the item as it sees fit.

In the case of the three NY-NJ airports, for example, all that stuff is supposedly placed up for sale in Pennsylvania.

For the record, the words “reportedly” and “supposedly” in the previous two paragraphs were used only because of past personal experiences in which extremely valuable items such as unopened mega multi-packs of chewing gum mysteriously disappeared from checked luggage that contained little notes from TSA indicating the bags had been opened and inspected.


Hand to Mouth (So to Speak)

So, whether all the 1-litre (or 1-liter) bottles of high-end Scotch from Great Britain ever actually make it to Pennsylvania is anyone’s guess.

Then again, it’s unfair to single out TSA in such matters because there are many other hands (or mouths) that potentially have access to the good stuff.

It’s also not fair to single out TSA because they’ve actually done a remarkable job keeping us safe for the past 10 years and for that we thank them. They deserve much, much more than an occasional bottle of Scotch anyway.

Bon Voyage, Newark Style

In the meantime, here’s an idea: Why not have the TSA, in conjunction with the local airports, offer some sort of storage or shipping service to handle high-end taboo items, with most of the proceeds going back to support airport security?

Hey, even if you’re not coming back through Newark any time soon and don’t want to ship your goodies, the booze can be aging nicely until next time you head East.

Or, if that doesn’t fly, why not have the airport reserve a little room to allow the unfortunate victim who is about to lose his or her high-end bottle of booze a chance to make a whole bunch of instant new friends, none of whom will remember anything, many of whom will miss their flights, but all of whom will smile and thank you and the TSA.

Just be sure to let the rest of us know when you’re coming back from overseas and connecting through to another city so we can help ease your pain.

Bon Voyage.

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  • Terrence Smith on Feb 27 2012 1:44:35:000PM

    9/11 may have been over a decade ago, but TSA did not start keeping us safe from our shampoo until an event that occurred when I was in London helping to chaperone my daughter's drama class in August of 2006. Therefore, we have had limited sizes on our liquids in effect for only about 5-1/2 years. On the trip back from London, items normally carried on had to be put in our checked luggage. Items normally kept in our pockets had to be placed in a clear plastic bag and sent through the x-ray machine. No cell phones or other electronics could be carried on.

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