Really, Terrorists? Really?

Raise your hand if you’re out of town this weekend, and ever since you heard the story of our latest adventures in international terrorism, you’re dreading the increased labyrinthine draconian-ness of the TSA’s vile ministrations, all in the name of Keeping Us Safe From Harm.

On the way out of LA, I remarked to the guy in back of me in the security line — as we were both struggling to stuff laptops back into bags and tie shoelaces at the same time — that “I feel safer already,” adding a quick smirk to let him know it was just a joke. The smirk didn’t do its job, apparently, because in return all I got was that wide-eyed look of terror that says “Shut up, you fool! Are you trying to get us all THROWN IN GITMO?” I thought we’d be a bit more lighthearted in Obama’s America, but I guess not.

I’ve always found LAX to be one of the more relatively sedate airports in terms of security, owing, I suppose, to the fact that the good folks at Homeland Security don’t seem to care too much about any state west of the Mississippi that doesn’t have the words “liberty,” “tyrrany,” or “muzzle velocity” in its state motto. LA and San Francisco don’t get much in the way of security dollars, but you can be sure that the God-fearing Palinites in Butt Nugget, Idaho will be able to afford whatever cutting-edge technology they need to defeat the Saracen hordes.

What really scares me is that I got a Wii for Christmas and now I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to check it because it’ll wind up accidentally rerouted to West Irian Jaya, where it’ll be worshipped by a cargo cult; and I don’t want to ship it because I’m cheap. That leaves carry-on, where it may or may not be mistaken for a fuel-air explosive. I contacted TSA via email (they seem to have no phone number), and received the helpful response that the helpful TSA employees at the airport can do whatever they damn well please, so if I don’t want to be ordered to Bend Over for Freedom I’ll do whatever they say. And I called USAirways to ask if I’d be kicked off the plane if I tried to board with a bagful of Japanese gaming technology, and a very serious woman named Bhagyashree humorlessly read to me, verbatim, the list of prohibited items posted on the airline’s website. So I’m still at a loss.

So this space is where you guys have to tell me about your experiences in coming back into LA from out of town. What’s the atmosphere like in the security line? What’s the general tone? Is it quick and relatively professional, or hellish and dystopian? On a scale of one to Brazil, what’s the level of absurdity?

Leave answers in the comments. And happy Kwanzaa (which starts today)!

10 Replies to “Really, Terrorists? Really?”

  1. I think you should be ok if it’s in the original packaging and you take it out in front of them. Ask them to manually examine it because you’re worried about the x-ray machine.

  2. Returned to L.A. yesterday from South Carolina (actually flew out of Charlotte, NC.) I was careful to follow all the rules, not speak unless spoken to, and avoid eye contact with TSA agents. Actually, TSA in NC were reasonably friendly, and all was smooth. Didn’t even experience unusual lines for the day after Christmas.

    I agree with Lucinda. Carry it on in original packaging and you should be fine.

    Jesus should ease up; these are genuine concerns. I would refer you to a real-life travel tale by (author) Cory Doctorow, wherein he was told by a TSA agent that under new rules he would be allowed to carry only a limited number of books (3 or 4) on a flight. Books. The agent was misinterpreting a rule about the acceptable number of match books. (Also ridiculous.)

  3. i moved to la 2 years ago and used a small rolling suitcase to carry my laptop and wii. the wii needs to be pulled out just like a laptop, but you won’t have any issues.

  4. Butt Nugget, Idaho, happens to also be west of the Mississippi, so your argument falls flat. Also, Butt Nugget Airport (better known as Butt Nugget Fields) prides itself on anal cavity searches, not snazzy expensive scanners, at its security checkpoints, for obvious reasons.

  5. Flying into LA from SF yesterday for a connecting flight back east the head stewardess did feel the need to tell we mild mannered passengers/customers that if we didn’t comply with the instructions of the airplane staff that we’d be meet by law enforcement at the gate of our destination. We also weren’t allow to have anything on our laps while a security check as done. For myself I just kept my mouth shut and tried not to make eye contact with anyone with authority unless spoken to. That’s how trained slaves are supposed to act right?

  6. Sadly, even (especially?) failed attempts are effective. The terrorists have won. We take off our shoes, fear our own protectors…now I won’t even be allowed to wear my explosive underpants anymore.

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