United Says TSA Wants All Comic Con Comic Books Searched; TSA Says 'Not Us'

from the no-superheroes-in-airports dept

I thought writing about San Diego Comic Con being censorial assholes would be the strangest story we’d write about Comic Con this year, but leave it to airline security to come up with an even more bizarre story. Apparently United Airlines (because of course it would be United) put up a sign at the airport in San Diego telling people that all books needed to be removed from checked bags. A Twitter user named Adi Chappo tweeted a picture of the sign at the airport:

United, being United, responded that the TSA was demanding that all comic books from San Diego Comic Con could only go in carry on luggage.

Chappo asked for more detail and United told him to reach out to the TSA directly.

This wasn’t just a one-off either. Another Twitter user posted a Twitter direct message conversation with United, in which it claimed that there was a TSA restriction on any comic books in checked luggage:

So that’s all bizarre enough. I mean, there has been talk about restricting electronics on flights, as well as some talk of sifting through reading materials, but comic books? From San Diego Comic Con? Many people were left wondering what the hell the TSA could be thinking… and that included the TSA. When asked about all of this by reporters, the TSA appeared to be just as confused as everyone else and insisted there was no such restriction:

There is ?no restriction on anything related to putting comics or any type of books? in baggage, and TSA never put out any guidance to that effect, she said.

?In fact, they are allowed in both checked and carry-on baggage,? the spokeswoman told Consumerist, adding that there were no delays in the processing of checked bags out of San Diego yesterday.

So, there was either some sort of bizarre miscommunication between the TSA and United, or it was just United being United. Either way when it comes down to a dispute between the TSA and United, it’s difficult to bet on which organization is likely to act worse.

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Companies: san diego comic con, united airlines

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Comments on “United Says TSA Wants All Comic Con Comic Books Searched; TSA Says 'Not Us'”

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Paul (profile) says:

Re: Re: Because Reasons

The only valid reason I’ve seen was that the books are heavy and would put planes out of balance.

A long time ago Airlines had a problem with coin collectors checking in a lot of heavy bags (Just under the weight limit). When doing paperwork for the plane the pilots found the plane out of balance. This would make take off quite exciting to say the least.

Agreed the signs makes no sense, but pilots could say something in the event that you have a lot of heavy bags.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Because Reasons

“I cannot wait to hear what United says what danger they were trying to protect us from.”

The best theory I’ve heard is that mylar bags might cause a lot of false positives in the scanners they use for cabin baggage, and the suggestion was that since a lot of comic con people are likely to be having their comics protected like that it would be best to have them in the hold.

If that’s the case, it was extremely poorly communicated, but it seems like the most sensible explanation if it can be confirmed that mylar has that effect on scanners.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

> More like: "Hmmm…. I’ll take this one, that one, Ooh! That’s a rare one!" – TSA Thief watching the X-Ray machine.

Having dealt with stuff stolen from or added to checked baggage, I figure that TSA would want that stuff in the checked bag, where they can go through it back in the back of the airport and then add one of their nice "we checked your bag and stole stuff from it, have a nice day" unsigned bag check papers in it. Wish they would learn best practices and search the bag in front of the person instead of hiding in the back.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If I were standing in an airport and heard a government official give a content-based order that violated the first amendment, I’d stand up and watch. The instant that a second official moved up to provide silent backup (or physical aid) to the first criminal, I’d inform both they are under arrest.

Federal agents may be immune to local laws in some cases, but they are not immune to federal laws, such as those protecting civil and constitutional rights.

Aaron Walkhouse (profile) says:

Re: Re: No. ‌ Always take information and sue in such cases.

Violation of a civil right, even though protected in the Constitution,
does not reliably comprise a misdemeanor or a felony; therefore a
citizen’s arrest is not applicable under federal or California laws.

Look at it this way: ‌ Police don’t arrest people when they should more
properly be sued, and they always give that advice when civil complaints
are brought to them; because even they could be charged with false arrest
in the absence of an obvious felony or misdemeanor.

John85851 (profile) says:

Playing devil's advocate

And I know this is probably a stretch, but what United wants to inspect the comic books for insurance reasons? I saw some photos on Facebook of some guys holding an Action Comics #1 (worth around $2 million), so I’m wondering if United is trying to prevent any fraudulent insurance claims.

I can just see someone filing a claim saying United lost their luggage and of course their copy of Action Comics #1 was in the bag, so please pay a claim of $2 million. Or maybe someone claims United lost their complete run of Action Comics #1-20.

radarmonkey (profile) says:

CYA, but pass the blame

This looks like a simple (ha!) CYA by United.

How many times, in the past, has a SDCC traveler claimed that priceless comics were stolen from their checked luggage? I don’t know, but I’m a cynic that believes the number is large enough, and the dollar amounts large enough, for United to BAN comics from checked luggage themselves. The added twist, is that United is blaming TSA for it instead of saying “we’re tired of paying out for (likely) false loss claims.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Scottsdale - similar?

After the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale Arizona this year there was a similar warning in the airport that the show catalogs MUST be checked. Something about metallic covers screwing up their scanners. It was very random and depended on each airline to post something at the ticket counter. No one seemed to offer any real justification other than ‘just do it’.

SteveG (profile) says:

It's because United Breaks Guitars


Seriously, it’s because they know they treat your baggage like crap and they don’t want the responsibility of protecting priceless comics. The insurance claims – even assuming no fraud – would be a huge drain on time and money.

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