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TSA Getting Ready For Wild New Travel Restrictions


Traveling via plane sucks. Part of that is the security. It’s degrading and awful and about to get a lot worse. The TSA has been testing out some new regulations in a few airports that will make your life shittier without much-added security.

Recently airport security has been asking passengers to remove a few extra things from their bags for more careful screening.  


These have quite famously included everything from electronics to books. Ostensibly, the issue is that baggage check fees are encouraging passengers to cram their carry-ons with as much as they can, and that’s making it tougher for the TSA to actually see what’s in your bags — with more layers to sift through, the images officers see are a lot more confusing. By taking some of these things out, officers can get a cleaner picture of each item on its own, and give all of them a bit more attention.

The problem here is twofold — at some point, there has to be a limit on the extra hoops we have to leap through in order to board a plane. At some point, one would think, the additional work would be so much as to make the whole thing impractical. Right? Flying may be a luxury for many, but it’s a vital piece of quite a few jobs as well. And not just luxurious ones. It’s a vital leg of our infrastructure, and there needs to be some fundamental limit to how much we allow it to be mucked with. Like with everything, there’s a balance to find. As a society, the US is comfortable, for example, with a few thousands more highway deaths a year in exchange for higher speed limits. If we want to be more secure, fine, but we need to collectively find a point where the buck stops. That may be further than where we’re at, or a ways back, but that’s a spot we need to collectively find and assert.

But… of course, all this only works under the assumption that any of these screenings actually help. They don’t. There’s a lot of data out there to back this, too. In a 2015 test by the Department of Homeland Security (the folks that manage the TSA), security failed 95% of tests including ones for mock explosives and weapons. Ninety-five. Percent.

It’s easy to get spooked by the recent uptick of terrorist attacks, and the memories of 9/11 still haunt many of us. But that cannot allow us to hop onto irrationality. That’s not the geek way. We rule lawyer. We obsess over the details. We sift through enormous, expansive continuities and find the five inaccuracies that matter to absolutely no one but us. Well… these do matter. To a lot of people.


Checked baggage prices (the alleged root cause of this problem) are only high because airlines have figured out how to makes tons of extra money. They say it’s to cover expenses, and that was once true, but as this fellow explains, that’s no longer the case. We can expect these changes to reduce productivity, though. Longer lines means more missed flights and lower efficiency all-around. That drives up prices. Airlines who will surely want to keep profit margins comfortably large may drive up luggage fees again, exacerbating the root problem.

Right now these extra screenings are only in a few cities. But they will likely expand soon. There was some rumbling last month that the US would begin restricting laptops on flights from Europe, but DHS Secretary John Kelly is suggesting that not only will these test restrictions “likely” expand to every airport soon, but that he’s considering a ban on larger electronics aboard US-bound from anywhere in the world. This is on top of new pat-down procedures that many have already described as invasive. All of this could make the life of airplane gamers or anyone who wants to watch something other than the shitty crop of movies the seatback “entertainment system” has may soon be in for some… turbulence.

Sorry, I know that’s a bad pun, but this situation sucks, and I thought it’d help a little. Long story short — the TSA is awful and invasive, their security is based on theatrics that doesn’t help us stay safe, and it’s all about to get a lot worse. At least puppies exist.


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