DHS, TSA To Make Boarding A Plane Even More Of A Pain In The Ass

from the whatever-makes-the-experience-more-dystopian... dept

More bag-sorting and intrusiveness awaits more flyers thanks to the DHS and TSA. The TSA has already banned electronic devices larger than a cellphone from being brought on board flights originating in 10 predominantly Muslim countries. Now, it wants to extend that ban to European nations. For now, the new inconvenience is in its test phase.

Rather than make things safer, officials now want lithium ion batteries and other similar fire hazards to be stowed in areas where no one’s likely to notice a developing fire and subject them to the sort of abuse airline employees save for items they haven’t personally purchased. All in the name of safety, and all in the name of unspecified threats.

The additional stupidity is this would only apply to flights in and out of the US, but not to domestic flights… at least not at this point. DHS boss John Kelly sort of clarified this on Fox News last week, utilizing a very governmental vagueness.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on aviation because you are in the process of making some big decisions on aviation. And I want to do a lightning round, quick questions, quick answers.

Are you going to ban laptops from the cabin on all international flights both into and out of the U.S.?

KELLY: I might. That’s a quick answer.

WALLACE: Yes, well, expand a little bit.

KELLY: Well, there’s a real threat. Numerous threats against aviation, that’s really the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly U.S. folks, people. It’s real. You know that I implemented I think on the 21st of March a restriction on large electronic devices in the cabins from ten points of origin.

But wait, there’s more! Not only will laptops face a potential ban on international flights, folks flying domestic may be forced to do even more sorting of their carry-on goods.

WALLACE: Another lightning round question, I do need a quick answer here because we’re running of time. The TSA is testing tighter screening of carry-ons, and the idea that people who bring their carry-ons are going to have to unpack them and put food in one bin, and electronics in the another bin, and paper in another bin.

Are you going to spread that nationwide and what’s that going to do to the screening lines?

KELLY: Yes, I mean, the reason we’ve done, TSA, of course, works for me. The reason we’ve done that is because of — people trying to avoid the $25 or $50 or whatever it is to check a bag are now stuffing your carry-on bags to the point of, you know — well, they can’t get any more in there. So, the more you stuff in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what’s in those bags through the monitors, they can’t tell what’s in the bags anymore. So, if you put —

WALLACE: So, are you going to do that nationwide?

KELLY: We might, and likely will.

There’s a good chance this move will receive unanimous support from airlines. Not that airlines can actually create travel safety policy, but this policy will likely result in more checked baggage. It likely won’t have any effect on travel safety, but it will at least give TSA agents more opportunities to convert passengers’ electronic devices for personal use.

It’s also going to create longer lines at security checkpoints, as bags are unpacked and sorted before scanning, then reassembled afterwards. This new inconvenience also works out well for the TSA, as it serves as the perfect advertisement for its Precheck service — the one where the government sells your rights back to you for a small fee.

Again, this will have a negligible effect on travel safety. In fact, it could be argued that piling up people at security checkpoints makes them a much more tempting target than going through all the logistics of smuggling weapons and explosives onto a plane. At best, security will be no better than it was prior to the bag sorting, and it definitely will make travelers less secure. As Mike pointed out earlier, taking steps to separate people from their electronic devices will lead to all sorts of sensitive information being stored in unsecured areas.

[F]orcing people to give up their laptops has a secondary (but very serious) problem: for anyone traveling with sensitive information (lawyers, doctors, reporters, business execs, public officials, etc.) giving up your laptop is a massive security risk.

All of this makes much more sense when you realize the head of the DHS isn’t in the business of finding smart solutions, but rather selling fear to willing buyers.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday said the terror threat is worse than most realize, saying some people would “never leave the house” if they knew the truth.

“I was telling [Fox host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning,” Kelly said on “Fox & Friends.”

And yet, millions of Americans not only leave the house, but fly millions of air miles without incident. I’m sure Kelly believes this is mostly due to the TSA’s ever-shifting rules on carry-on luggage, but the reality is that terrorist attacks are still an anomaly — outliers on the curve of human existence, at least here in the US. The proposed measures will guarantee more money flows to airlines and TSA, but little else.

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Comments on “DHS, TSA To Make Boarding A Plane Even More Of A Pain In The Ass”

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70 Comments
JoeCool (profile) says:

Oops!

They accidentally gave the REAL reason.

The reason we’ve done that is because of — people trying to avoid the $25 or $50 or whatever it is to check a bag are now stuffing your carry-on bags to the point of, you know — well, they can’t get any more in there.

They’re doing the airlines’ dirty work to prevent you from saving $25-$50. It’s NOTHING to do with safety.

Ed says:

So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?
Evidently you don’t fly much and see how people are over packing their carry-ons. A purse is one thing, but a suitcase (that’s probably already larger than it is supposed to be) can have so many levels of crap stuffed into it. To get accurate information through the scanner, something has to be done.
If you would do a little research to see why these things are being done, it would be significantly better than being a paranoid journalist.
One of the things that the TSA should be doing is randomizing security measures. Keeping everything identical is one of the biggest issues.

“negligible effect on travel safety” yea, your probably right. I mean, 1 or 2 planes blown up in the air is indeed pretty insignificant compared to the 10,000,000 flights in the US each year.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?”

How exactly is this plan to ban laptops and make everyone sort their carry-ons making anything more secure?

In addition to that, people are over-packing carry-ons because:
1) The airlines are charging for checked baggage
2) The TSA is making getting onto the place so difficult that people are cutting corners (like checking baggage) to reduce the time they spend in the airport

Let’s not praise the an agency that is creatively trying to put out a fire when they have been fanning the coals for a decade.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

"negligible effect on travel safety" yea, your probably right. I mean, 1 or 2 planes blown up in the air is indeed pretty insignificant compared to the 10,000,000 flights in the US each year.

Are you also suggesting that 1 or 2 planes blow up in the air every year? Because even before 9/11 that was incredibly rare. A cursory search shows attempted mid-air bombings to number at about 20 worldwide since 1977, five of which were totally unsuccessful.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The bigger problem with air safety – maintenance and proper procedures, and a few innovations from decades ago which have never been put into place – are routinely fought successfully by the carriers. So bullshit on any claim this has to do with safety whatsoever. As if the TSA has increased safety with their invasive searches, theft, and rules about how much dangerous shampoo you can bring.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re:

Whole thing is just stupid chasing our own tails. Terrorists want us to do exactly what we keep doing. They make a threat and watch us waste time and money like there is no tomorrow, and they didn’t even have to do anything.

Now also there is the point that your creating a bottle neck and huge crowd at one point in an airport. You really think terrorists are too stupid to see the opportunity that provides?

Just imagine if they organized and hit several TSA lines at the major airports. They could shutdown air travel in the US with pretty minimal effort. All because we have created the opportunity for them because of our fear.

I still find myself wondering what the fuck happened. I thought this was supposed to be “home of the brave”, yet instead we keep cowering and giving in to these terrorists.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah. This guy i worked for had this idiotic patriotic plaque on his wall with some line about how “blah blah looked into the eyes of evil and didn’t blink”. That’s because we closed them tightly and screamed and have not stopped running in circles, waving our arms ever since. Every time they say “don’t let the terrorists win”, I have to point out that they won long ago and instantly. Bush’s stupid “go shopping” quip was probably the best official anti-terrorist stance so far, sadly.

MonkeyFracasJr (profile) says:

Re: "So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?"

“So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?”

It already IS MORE SECURE. Flying is statistically safer than any other mode of travel. You re more likely to die in a traffic accident ON THE WAY TO the airport. You are probably more like likely to trip and fall and break your neck walking on to the airplane than crashing from flight.

The TSA and all “security theater” is about money, about taking money from you.

STOP STEALING MY MONEY!

sigalrm (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?

You don’t. It’s plenty secure already. You can tell by how planes aren’t falling out of the sky on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. At most, maintain the status quo, but ideally ratchet it back some. Because frankly, the TSA has already gone to plaid.

"negligible effect on travel safety" yea, your probably right. I mean, 1 or 2 planes blown up in the air is indeed pretty insignificant compared to the 10,000,000 flights in the US each year.

An argument could be made that 1 or 2 planes blown up in the air works against the terrorists evil goals.

Bad things happen, and you can’t stop them all.

If a plane "blows up" in mid air, the odds that the cause will ever be 100% identified are slim. Could be terrorists. Could be the defective lithium ion battery stashed in the Note 7 in the cargo hold. For the most part, people would be left wondering. Malaysia Flight 370 is an excellent – if tragic – example here. It’s disappearance might have been terrorism related. Or mechanical failure. Or a deranged pilot. Or none of the above.

Now, compare & contrast MH370’s disappearance and net impact on aviation to Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber, who was was both inept and expendable, with a bomb that he couldn’t manage to set off. The headlines screamed "Failed Terrorist Attack" for months, and to this day we still have to take our shoes off in airport security.

So ask yourself: if you were a terrorist, which of the two scenarios above would bring you closer to your end goals?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?

Maybe drop the whole security theater thing?

Security theater may help us feel secure, but that sounds like a problem if we aren’t really.

I suspect that with our measured actual security (air marshals and reinforced cockpit doors) if we warned people that they fly at their own risk (which really isn’t all that much greater during the war on terror), we’d accept the increased risk.

The only purpose of the TSA at this point is to perpetuate the TSA. A task at which it succeeds, admirably.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“So just how do YOU propose to make flying more secure?”

Well, first I’d step back and see if extra security is required or effective. For all the security theatre (that regularly miss test items when they’re being evaluated), incidents and/or credible threats are very rare. Will adding more theatre actually increase security, or should we keep putting up hurdles to normal travellers every time a potential threat is noticed?

“Evidently you don’t fly much and see how people are over packing their carry-ons”

…because airlines are gouging them for stowing baggage, and the baggage handlers love to damage things. The bags also have stated size and weight limits, so if there’s too much they should be told to stow them. If not, you’re making excuses for the TSA not being able to handle baggage that’s within agreed limits, so you’ll excuse me if I simply say they should be doing their jobs, or renegotiate said limits.

“I mean, 1 or 2 planes blown up in the air is indeed pretty insignificant compared to the 10,000,000 flights in the US each year.”

I hear your sarcasm, but that’s actually completely true. More people have been killed by terrorists walking down the street in recent years than they have in planes. More people also die in hundreds of types of non-terrorist related incidents every year, yet there’s never a call to strip rights for their safety after those incidents.

Anonymous Coward says:

there’s more chance of me stopping a flight to Mars than this stopping any terrorist act! this is designed, in my opinion, for 3 reasons. 1) to try to justify his job and 2) to try to justify the TSA and 3) to be nothing but a pain in the ass! the later has the greatest chance of success as well as pissing off passengers and receiving retaliation of the same degree from other countries. but, of course, it’s only the USA that is allowed to pull this sort of crap!! any other country that does is gonna be condemned by the USA as being restrictive and prohibitive, making traveling more difficult than it need be, whilst reducing the number of flights and therefore passenger movements globally!!

Dave Cortright (profile) says:

Separating data from electronics

The confluence of all these organizations coming at electronics devices (TSA, ICE, and yes even the airlines) is just going to push people who care about their data to store all the sensitive stuff on removable media. 256GB and 512GB cards are $1/GB or cheaper now. Make sure they are encrypted and carry them through the metal detector in your pocket. They aren’t big enough to set it off.

Ninja (profile) says:

“I was telling [Fox host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning,” Kelly said on “Fox & Friends.”

So let’s make a deal, shall we? YOU scared cowards stay home and let the rest of us enjoy our freedoms without useless security theater. Deal? We promise to build a deep, fortified, self-sustaining bunker resistant to everything so you can remain very safe inside.

DannyB (profile) says:

What is the problem here?

At present, TSA can take away your drink, and then you are allowed to purchase a new drink once inside the secure area.

How about allow TSA to take away your laptop, and then you are allowed to purchase a new laptop once inside the secure area.

Problem solved. Everyone happy.

Next up: this should also apply to expensive jewelry. It could be a bomb.

Narcissus (profile) says:

Re: What is the problem here?

I was already discussing it at work. Obviously if this will become a rule you can’t take your laptop on flights anymore because they would be either destroyed or stolen during the flight. Of course as soon as the US adopts it the rest of the world will follow.

Our solution was to just have a stack of laptops ready at international meetings. Once you get to the meeting you take one and log in to your company account.

There might even be a business model there. Get off the plane, go to your LapTopEverywhere counter at the airport and pick up your computer. When you leave the country hand it back in. Bonus points if you can just hand it over to the security guy.

of course it will not make us safer because there will be problems with viruses and information left on the laptop. But hey, that’s a small price to pay for FEELING safer.

Carlie Coats (profile) says:

Costs of TSA "security theater"

Cost-analysis of TSA’s activities should include the cost of the time wasted by passengers, measured in fractions of a lifetime.

Given the publicly available information about airplane departures and the mean extra waits due to TSA, one can compute that over the last 15 years, the TSA’s activities have cost between 7800 and 10300 lives per year, in accumulated wasted passenger-time: TSA is one of the deadliest terrorist organizations on the planet.

Anonymous Coward says:

That is one reasoin why I like to drives places instead of fly.

Another reason is that sometimes police get a little heavy handed when they remove a passenger from a plane. Someone once posted on a YouTube video where they made all the passengers and crew put their hands in the air when they went to remove just one passenger.

Driving now is so much preferable to flying.

Anonymous Coward says:

If only we would relax our safety standards to such a degree that terrorist attacks weren’t anomalies.
Is that what it would take before you would consider safety measures like these worth the inconvenience? As it’s not infringing on any of your rights as a citizen, maybe this inconvenience is worth not having planes falling out of the sky.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

want to have an actual net positive impact on airline safety?

Ratchet back TSA check point security to pre-9/11 levels, ban the sale and consumption of alcohol on commercial flights, and eliminate baggage check fees.

Leave the reinforced doors and locks on the cockpit doors in place, as well as the prohibition on opening the door during flight unless the aisle is blocked. Also, leave in place the post-9/11 standing orders to flight crews to resist hijackers (not that anyone will ever passively submit to one on an airplane, ever again).

In one fell swoop you’ll reduce tension levels on flights and minimize the number of unruly drunks in the air.

Since 9/11, the passengers have a documented history of helping the flight crews to secure anyone who’s actually causing a problem.

All of which will result in a more comfortable and safer air travel experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problem they’re trying to combat isn’t passengers taking over the cockpits. It’s passengers with things that might pass for laptops or tablets, but are actually bombs. Not much you can do to keep that from taking down a plane, other than keeping from getting on in the first place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The problem they’re trying to combat isn’t passengers taking over the cockpits. It’s passengers with things that might pass for laptops or tablets, but are actually bombs.

No. Bombs in laptop form-factor is just the excuse du jour.

A bomb in the hold is just as damaging as a bomb in the cabin. and there are any number of ways to rig a remote detonator.

Not much you can do to keep that from taking down a plane, other than keeping from getting on in the first place.

Can’t disagree with that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not true. A bomb in the cabin is much more dangerous, especially considering the form factor and size.

A laptop device using non traditional materials to get past security would be a low yoeld device. It would have to be well placed in the cabin to do serious damage.

In the hold it would be randomly placed jammed around with other suitxases full of clothes inside an AKE box which in turn air gaps to the sides of the plane.

Damage from a small device would likely be much smaller. The hold also has fire supression equipment and as a last option can be decompressed to cut oxygen to any fire.

Not to forget that something in the hold is further away from harming passengers or crew. Yiu cannot blow the cockpit door open with a device that is in the hold.

Personanongrata says:

You Can't Handle the Truth

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday said the terror threat is worse than most realize, saying some people would "never leave the house" if they knew the truth.

the truth is the US government and it’s European stooges are the world’s leading terrorists. How many tens of billions of US dollars in weapons/munitions are dumped around the globe yearly in support of an interventionist foreign policy or propping up despots?

the truth is the US government and it’s European stooges are responsible for the deaths tens of millions of innocents globally.

the truth is you do not take your children on a picnic lay out a blanket and basket next to a hornets nest and then have mom/dad repeatedly strike the hornets nest with a stick while the children are eating and then standby wondering why the hornets have stung the children.

the truth is persons willing to give their lives in support of a cause will have no trouble forgoing the use of electronics gear to secret explosives and simply use a bodily cavity.

the truth is terrorism is a form of asymmetrical warfare where a militarily weak opponent searches for holes in the defenses of a militarily strong opponent. The idea is not to strike your more powerful opponent where they are strongest but to strike where they are not expecting you.

He who defends everything, defends nothing ~ Frederick the Great

A powerful method of expressing displeasure with DHS/TSA airport security theater would be for airline passengers to boycott flying until the humiliating, dehumanizing and completely worthless TSA security theater gate rape stops. A few weeks of lost revenue will have the airlines corporate offices screaming for change.

SirWired (profile) says:

Airlines do not, in fact, care for the TSA

“There’s a good chance this move will receive unanimous support from airlines.”

This is actually quite untrue. Firstly, Southwest doesn’t charge baggage fees, and they are the largest domestic airline.

But, in general, the airlines loathe the TSA about as much as passengers do. Congested TSA checkpoints make people late for flights, limit the capacity of airline terminals, and cause them to avoid air travel in general. Passenger security fees raise the price of tickets in a way the airlines don’t get a cut of. And for fire-safety reasons, they’d really prefer to keep as many lithium batteries out of the hold as they can.

Yeah, many of them like baggage fees, but they’d prefer to convince passengers to pay them on their own. They don’t want the TSA doing it for them in a way that drives people away from air transport entirely.

Chuck says:

I don't expect the TSA to be full of computer experts...

…but I do expect them to consult with at least ONE of them before creating a policy like this.

Can’t bring laptop bomb into the cabin? No problem! Just enable wake-on-lan over wifi and bring any normal cell phone. Security defeated!

Seriously, this isn’t even theater any more. It’s just bad comedy. It’s like that first episode of Scorpion where they “downloaded” something via a CAT5 cable dangling in mid-air. One need not be a computer expert – or barely even a novice – to see this insanity for what it is.

And yet people keep on re-electing the people in congress who keep approving a budget for these morons. Well done, average voter, well done.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Take your own advice, please

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday said the terror threat is worse than most realize, saying some people would "never leave the house" if they knew the truth.

Why yes, there are cowards and paranoid/delusional people who are terrified of any possible threat, no matter how insignificant it actually is, so what?

On the list of ‘things that might harm and/or kill you’ terrorism is behind a vast number of entries, so even if it was three or four times as bad as people ‘realize’ it would still be a statistical blip, certainly not worth losing your head over.

Chuck says:

Re: Re:

This right here.

I’ve only taken a plane ONCE since the TSA was created (even though I was 13 at the time and I flew probably like 50+ flights before the TSA) and it was only because the distance between Alabama and Seattle was too far to drive.

That was 6 years ago. My next trip to Seattle will be a road trip. Nuff said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The only thing about driving is that if I am staying in a big city, I have to make sure that I get a hotel near a parking garage, with some cities, particularly in California, becoming anti-car.

When I go San Diego, I prefer to get the Westin, on Broadway, if possible, because one $20/day parking garage is fairly close, and I don’t have to haul luggage as far.

It is just the price I have to pay for avoiding flying as much as possible.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Plain as the nose on your face

Kelly explained what this is about: checked baggage. (Oh, yes, you do have to read between the lines a bit.)

The airlines charge for checked bags, so everyone stopped using them and stuffed their carry-ons. That hurt the airlines’ bottom line…

…so now they’re getting Big Daddy DHS to force you to pay for a checked bag.

Anonymous Coward says:

Let the Current Model Burn and See What Rises From the Ashes

I’ve been flying since the DC7 was a workhorse of commercial travel. The DC9 was an almost science fictionally futuristic step forward…jet planes for commercial, public, commuter air travel in the ’60’s?!

I stopped traveling by air nationally and internationally back about the time that Internet videoconferencing became a reliable, free resource (circa 2008 for me). I live within 16 hours by car of any family or friends I will ever hope to visit in person. I hope the commercial airlines die from the brand-poisoning of their own greed and abuse of passengers with assistance from the strangulation of all semblance of convenience and respect for Constitutional Rights inflicted by the hands of the TSA.

As a bonus, once the airlines die we ought reasonably to expect the TSA to wither as a parasite without its host.

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