Random & Incoherent
Thursday, March 02, 2006
  Top Notch
This past weekend, I braved the hell hole that is the Atlanta Airport* and flew to Raleigh on Delta Airlines to see family and friends for a wedding reception.

It had been about 6 months or so since I had been on a plane and was unsure as to whether the lighter mandate as still in effect. I knew better than to take any type of pocketed folding blade with, thus I left it and my Zippo on the dresser before I even dared approach the airport. In place of the Zippo, I had a Bic lighter.

Prior to going through the intense security screening process, I inquired with an airline employee and was informed that there was still a ban on Bics and I would be forced to discard my flame producing apparatus. And that's why I left the Zippo at the house, wasn't about to toss that into the refuse, but the Bic didn't matter. There's a reason they are referred to as "disposable" lighters.

Anyway, no big deal. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has very strict guidelines as to what can and cannot be brought onto an airliner. And lighters (falling under the heading of "flammable") are on this list. And that covers both carry-on and checked luggage.

Now that I've already disposed of the Bic lighter that was occupying space in my pocket, I'm ready to take my shoes off, strip down, and waltz through security.

Everything's a breeze. No alarms go off. No body cavity searches. Just a smile and an "enjoy your flight, sir".

Well, considering I had about an hour and a half before my flight would board, I decided to find a quiet place to have a cigarette while I waited. As I reached into my carry-on bag to retrieve my cigarettes, I found yet another disposable lighter. Apparently I had forgotten that that one was in there.

And obviously, I wasn't the only one who missed it. How are you (TSA) going to enforce a guideline that you (TSA) determined to be security issue if you (TSA)cannot detect the presence of a prohibited item in carry-on baggage? Made it easier for me to smoke, but left me feeling less than secure.

What else did they miss? A couple of box cutters here and there? A hand gun? A weed-eater? A thermo-nuclear device? The worst that could happen in my situation is that I might be able to set something small on fire. But I ain't taking over no plane with a Bic lighter!

But, you ask, certainly they didn't make a similar snafu in a different city, in a different airport, with different personnel?

Oh, but they did!

When will the madness stop? When will all of the illegal lighter carriers be stopped?

Sounds like the TSA needs some more training, or they just need to lighten up a bit and not worry about the lighters. Maybe they should be searching for the shoe bombs instead.




*Interesting side note regarding the ATL: The "official" name of the airport is The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but the website is www.atlanta-airport.com....apparently simplicity is overlooked here in the ATL unless of course you are spending 8 million dollars for a "branding campaign"
 
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