TSA Agents Outwitted By Cory Doctorow's Unlocked, 'TSA-Safe' Suitcase

from the the-skies-won't-be-safe-until-every-checked-bag-has-been-destroyed dept

Prior to the 9//11 attacks, you only had to worry about airport baggage handlers beating the hell out of your luggage or stealing your valuables. Thanks to the post-attack panic, there's a new layer of ineptitude and deceit your luggage is subjected to on its way to its destination (which may not be your destination).

Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow (or rather, his luggage) was recently subjected to the brutish charms of the Transportation Security Administration.

[T]he TSA still routinely and unaccountably destroys luggage equipped with "TSA-safe" locks, just because they can. Last week, TSA inspectors at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport pried the locks off of my unlocked, "TSA-safe" suitcase before taping it shut again and loading it onto my London-bound flight.
Here's what Doctorow's luggage looked like after the "TSA-safe" locking mechanism outmaneuvered the TSA agent in charge of crowbar-wielding and packaging tape application.


This appears to be the luggage Doctorow "submitted" to the TSA (although Doctorow's is possibly an earlier iteration), which then handled it with all the grace and skill of two male supermodels trying to retrieve files from a computer.


The TSA should have had no trouble unlocking the suitcase (using keys, rather than physically attacking it). Rimowa's site states that its luggage features "TSA combination locks."


Bypassing it with a master key was the option the TSA was supposed to use. Instead, it just forced it open, taped it back together and handed it back to Doctorow without even a shrug of bureaucratic regret.

It did, however, respond to his legitimate complaint. If you can call it a response. First, it loads up on disclaimers. (Doctorow's interjections are bracketed.)
Thank you for contacting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center regarding damaged or missing checked baggage locks.

TSA is required by law to screen all property that goes onboard commercial passenger airlines, including checked baggage. To ensure the security of the traveling public, it is sometimes necessary for Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) to inspect checked baggage by hand. Locked checked baggage [[MY BAG WAS UNLOCKED]] may cause delays due to the need for TSOs to open locked baggage by using alternative measures, including force. Please be advised that TSA is not liable for any damage to locks or bags that are required to be opened by force for security purposes. [[HOW CONVENIENT – WHY NOT?]]
Yes. The agency takes no responsibility for breaking something that was a.) unlocked and b.) even if it wasn't, had passkeys it could have used. It inexplicably mentions this unused option while explaining why it manhandled Doctorow's luggage like the world's most inept burglar.
In cooperation with private industry, TSA implemented a system under which TSOs are able to identify, unlock, and then relock certain locks using passkey sets available to TSA screeners [[AND ANYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN AND A BIT OF GUMPTION]]. TSA-recognized locks can be opened and relocked by TSOs without force and with little delay. TSA cannot, [[WHY THIS COMMA?]] guarantee that such locks will never be damaged or lost while TSOs and airline employees handle checked baggage [[HOW CONVENIENT]].
On top of being unable to perform its job without destroying luggage, the TSA is apparently unaware that URLs can be copied and pasted, rather than carelessly typed into a response email for maximum ineffectiveness.
To learn more about damaged locks, please visit www.tsa.gov\node\1428.
Just try to do what the TSA didn't and paste that not-a-URL-at-all into an omnibox. (Well, it will be automatically converted into a real URL, but that's only because web browsers are smarter than TSA Customer Service agents.) Doctorow says this indicates some sort of DOS mindset, which is its only level of scary.

So, to recap: the TSA can break your stuff, despite having the tools to do otherwise and despite having a number of luggage manufacturers specifically making passkey-compliant suitcases to prevent this sort of thing from happening and despite the suitcase being UNLOCKED THE WHOLE TIME. And the traveler's path of recourse is a mistyped URL surrounded by "not our fault" boilerplate.

The TSA will never have to pay for broken luggage. Because terrorism.

I miss the good old days when this sort of behavior was only displayed by baggage handlers searching for valuables/setting distance records in amateur luggage-tossing competitions. At least then you could find someone to hold accountable for the damage sustained.

The TSA, however, is above even the most minimal level of accountability. If its employees are outsmarted by a "TSA-safe" lock, it's your fault for not ensuring your checked luggage was already open and dumping its contents all over the conveyor belts by the time it reached the TSA's elite group of suitcase-battering counterterrorists. This entire situation (especially the TSA's "response") cleary shows that Doctorow is the guilty party here. If he truly loved America, he'd have prepared for this eventuality… or at least just taken back the taped-together remains of his $1000 suitcase and shed a tear of gratitude for all the hard work the TSA did to ensure his flight didn't get blown up/hijacked.


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  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:42am

    Oh, I doubt this was an accident. Cory Doctorow (my favorite author) wrote Little Brother, a novel in where the Department of Homeland Security goes full police state on San Francisco after a terrorist attack. The protagonist is grabbed off the street by DHS thugs and is sent to a secret prison, eventually released, and threatened that they will disappear him if he ever talks. It's pretty subversive, so I would not be shocked if this was done on purpose.
    /tinfoilhat

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  • icon
    Richard (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:45am

    BUT

    Please be advised that TSA is not liable for any damage to locks or bags that are required to be opened by force for security purposes.

    But this bag was NOT required to be opened by force (it was already open and they had a passkey - and therefore they ARE liable after all.

    Take them to court!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:19am

      Re: BUT

      Just claiming that they aren't liable doesn't make it so either. A judge gets to decide that one not the TSA.

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      • icon
        Paul Renault (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 3:03pm

        Re: Re: BUT

        Well, as long as there's a TSA sign somewhere that says "We're not liable for any damage we cause", I do believe that it's a legally binding contract.

        But only if the sign is signed "The Management"...

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 1:36am

          Re: Re: Re: BUT

          Not true. Sometimes "boilerplate" contracts are discarded by judges if they are unfair to one party. There's legalese for this, but what it boils down to is that there is room in the law for that.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 7:39am

          Re: Re: Re: BUT

          Contracts require a "meeting of the minds" or in other words and agreement by both parties in order to be valid. Simply posting a sign claiming you are not liable does not absolve you of liability. The only thing it can do is make people believe that it absolves you of liability such that they choose not to pursue an action against you that they think is futile even if the absolution claim is utter horseshit.

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    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:27am

      Re: BUT

      They'll just switch to a different defense.

      ex: "It was coming right at me!"

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    • identicon
      anony, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:42am

      Re: BUT

      You know what pisses me off is when someone or some department of government states that they are not liable for something they have done by law but do not provide the specific law and the paragraph on the law that covers their illegal action.

      there is no law that says your baggage may be damaged due to the TSA in any agreements signed by anyone and that is why this Gentleman could and should take them to court.
      Damn if costs a few hundred dollars to start a case and if they start upping the costs you can always cancel it.Well worth it if you can make them look like the twats they are.

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    • identicon
      Golda Meir, 16 Apr 2015 @ 9:26am

      Re: BUT

      For a bag?

      Please...

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  • identicon
    Gordon, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:52am

    How about an impenetrable cable tie?

    I still use a zipped suitcase, and although most of the time I use a small easily-forced-open-if-someone-really-wants-in padlock, I sometimes improvise with a plastic cable tie (zip tie? not sure of the US term...) that can easily be broken if a 'security' inspection is needed.

    Would the TSA be flummoxed by that too, I wonder?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:57am

      Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

      Probably take a blow-torch to it....

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:58am

      Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

      I simply don't check bags. I ship them ahead using a parcel service. That way, they never get lost, never get broken into, and never get anything stolen from them. It's a win/win/win.

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      • icon
        radix (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

        Overnight shipping is probably even cheaper than a checked bag with many airlines these days.

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        • identicon
          Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

          Now there's a great business idea for UPS. Overnight shipping between airports for less than or equal to the cost of typical checked bag costs. Have a little place open during the airport's hours of operation. For frequent fliers it could be setup like the amazon shipping of travel.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

            I would LOVE that.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

            Actually if set up a certain way, a premium could be charged for a business like that. Add a courier service option that would pick up and deliver your bags to you before you leave and after you arrive so you didn't have to jack with lines at the airport in addition to being able to skip TSA snooping through your stuff. I think many people would gladly pay more for that value added.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

            Except, if it was UPS, they'd deliver it 3 days late and claim you weren't there at the airport to pick it up, because they sent it to the wrong one. Every. Single. Time.

            Why yes, I have had consistently horrible experience with them. Why do you ask?

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            • identicon
              PRMan, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

              They've delivered every T-Mobile phone I ordered 1 business day after the scheduled date, but NEVER updated the "ON-TIME" status, despite it being late.

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              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                No, that's just annoying. With me, in multiple different places I've lived over the years, it's been consistently horrible. For example:

                - Not delivering the package, not calling or emailing me to say why, and then when I get in touch with them, claiming they couldn't find my house. After some discussion, it turns out somehow the address got munged and they were attempting to deliver to a nonsensical location. The lady on the phone explained that they had sent me a postcard (not an email: stupidity #1; after they already knew the address they had did not exist: stupidity #2) explaining how to take delivery of my package. I was not permitted to tell them my real address and get it delivered (stupidity #3) but instead had to head out to the UPS depot, 30 miles away, (stupidity #4) to pick it up in person.
                - Not delivering the package, and leaving a sticker on the door stating they had left it with the apartment manager. (Outright lie; the apartment manager was not in that day.)
                - Not delivering the package, and when I called to ask why, explaining that the driver did not have "the code to get in." (Another outright lie; I was not living in, or anywhere near, a gated community that would require such a code.)
                - Making me jump through any number of hoops to get a delivery note attached to the package instructing the driver to leave the package with the apartment manager if I wasn't there when it came time to deliver it... and then not delivering the package anyway. (Apartment manager was going to be there that time.) I called UPS and they said they would re-deliver it. Three hours later, I called back, and they said the driver attempted to deliver and found me not home. (Another lie; I was there the whole time and no one ever came.) Requests for another re-delivery were refused, even though I explained I was going out of town the next day and I had paid extra for expedited shipping.

                It's gotten to the point where I specifically request, when ordering a package, that they *not* ship via UPS. Remember Jim Cramer on the first Iron Man movie, mocking Stark Industries as "a weapons company that doesn't make weapons"? That's exactly how I view UPS: This is a package delivery company that doesn't deliver packages!

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                • icon
                  Namel3ss (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:22am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                  "they said the driver attempted to deliver and found me not home. (Another lie; I was there the whole time and no one ever came.)"

                  I've had that happen with Fedex. Was waiting at home for it, sitting 15 feet from my door, and went out a bit later to find a note "sorry we missed you, come pick it up tomorrow". A-hole, couldn't you at least be arsed to knock on the GD door?

                  Or 2-3 times I left a note on the door instructing them to leave the package in the leasing office and they leave it on my doorstep anyway. In the rain, snow, whatever.

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                • icon
                  John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                  That's fascinating. I use UPS frequently, and have never experienced a single problem with them. I can even easily give them special delivery instructions (and even pre-sign for deliveries that would otherwise require a signature) online.

                  I wonder what the difference is?

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                  • icon
                    Mason Wheeler (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:41pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                    I have no idea, but it's to the point where I hold them in the same esteem as Comcast, Monsanto and Bank of America. Their service has been so abysmal for so many years that they've earned themselves a place on the list of Companies That Do Not Deserve To Continue To Exist.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:50pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                      Wow. That's bold. I don't think I could slam a door THAT hard. I've had a few things get lost, or show up late or damaged every now and then but not with any regularity.

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            • identicon
              Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

              Nationwide businesses get well deserved reputations in various regions.

              For me in SE New Mexico, UPS is fantastic when it comes to handling products from Amazon. Fed-ex doesn't have a local office within an hour of the city and the USPS will throw a yellow you-weren't-home slip in my mailbox when I'm sitting in front of a giant street facing window in the living room. It wouldn't be bad if I could do down to the post office the same day and pick it up, but I have to wait until the next day because the package is on the vehicle.

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          • identicon
            Michael, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

            They could probably work a deal with the airlines and just include them in the cargo hold of the jets going between airports...

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

              Probably not. The airlines then would be undercutting their ability to charge fees for bag checks. The airlines probably wouldn't agree to such an arrangement.

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              • identicon
                Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:29am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                From an efficiency standpoint, they should be charging for carry-ons and not checked baggage.

                Carry-ons slow down the transition of passengers on and off a plain and most importantly have an unknown weight.

                Checked bags on the other hand provide the airlines a lot more flexibility and predictability on the load weight of the aircraft, alleviating issues with unexpected over loading and having to remove luggage then figuring out how to route the luggage last minute or delivering luggage to people later.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:37am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                  There's a size limit on carry on bags that keeps them from being that big of a factor in weight issues. If a carry on bags were capable of having that big of an affect on weight and balance, then the airlines would also have to require passenger weights just like smaller aircraft do.

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                  • identicon
                    Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:54am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                    I've re-arranged my checked and carry on baggage frequently in the past to get under the checked luggage weight. Now I just go ahead and carry the heavy high density items with me from the start. If it forced me to change my personal habits, I figured it would be similar for a sufficiently large number of other people.

                    It could still be the case that many would still rather pay the extra fee to have the heavy items in their checked luggage than have to carry it with them though.

                    I've also seen crew check outside of carry on size items at the gate as well, especially for 3 seat row size aircraft that have the smaller overhead bins.

                    For full flights, it isn't uncommon in my experience to have a delay as the remove luggage from the aircraft after hitting a load limit. At that point I get a little worried if my luggage will be the one to be removed and then waste time trying to pick up something that never arrived. This also gets compounded when there are layovers and aircraft changes in reaching particular destinations.

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                • icon
                  Bill Jackson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:43am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                  Yes, I agree - to a degree. There is a max size weight for carry-on bags, so they just apply statistics to that aspect.

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                  • identicon
                    Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:03pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                    Which makes sense and would most of the time taking an average and accounting for long term trends. Still, optimization is a major trend to airlines at the moment, and when they have issue with carrying pillows on flights, I can see this line of reasoning having some value to them.

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              • identicon
                AnonyBabs, 15 Apr 2015 @ 2:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                ...aaaand that's what made it a good joke. Thanks for splainin'.

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          • icon
            Derek Kerton (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

            I'm a United frequent flyer. And they tried this side business in partnership with UPS (as I recall) about half a decade ago. It didn't work. Insufficient demand, I would guess.

            I don't like the idea myself. Bad as airlines are with your bags, I still like the odds of my bags arriving with me a lot better with the airline than with a parcel carrier.

            Maybe you guys trying this haven't shipped larger boxes very often, but the speed of delivery is variable, and tends towards slow. This is not a "priority envelope" service, unless you want to pay $150 per box.

            And then factor in International. If you've ever shipped abroad, you will learn the sad lessons of how long parcels can spend held up in customs. For trade shows, twice I've tried to ship booth supplies to Europe to meet me at the trade show. On both occasions, the parcel was shipped two weeks before the show. On both occasions, our stuff was held up in customs, and never made it to the show. On both occasions we spend hours on the phone, roaming fees, etc, but to no avail. You'll need to ship one month ahead to be sure, unless you want to go commando for your entire holidays.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

              Perhaps there wasn't enough TSA horror stories yet at that time. I also suspect they didn't really market it effectively so not many people knew about it.

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            • identicon
              Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:38am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

              Customs is a valid worry for international, time certainly moves differently for them and I've heard stories of the amazing feats parcel carriers can achieve in mishandling packaged (How the hell do you break an iron anvil in transit?!).

              Still, if a parcel carrier wanted to make a legitimate attempt at such a service they could have that worked out to make it timely and economical.

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              • icon
                Mason Wheeler (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                How the hell do you break an iron anvil in transit?!

                Since we're discussing cartoonish levels of incompetence, the answer is obvious: drop it on someone's head from a few hundred feet up.

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                • identicon
                  Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:08pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

                  Someone care to do a napkin calculation to evaluate the human cushion mechanics on an anvil?

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:24am

          Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

          With a little planning, it doesn't even have to be overnight. I usually go with UPS standard. If you have a reservation, most hotels are happy to receive the package and hold it for you until you arrive. At least, I've never had one refuse.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:38am

        Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

        Shipping luggage (or anything else) is a major security breach. In some cases, those bags will get loaded on the exact same airplanes that carry passengers. While the TSA is putting so much interest in rigorously examining people's genitals, potential terrorists have much easier ways of getting bombs on planes via other means.

        But then for some TSA agents, having the ability to grope anyone's genitals at will is the most satisfying part of the job.

        http://denver.cbslocal.com/2015/04/13/cbs4-investigation-tsa-screeners-at-dia-manipulated-system -to-grope-mens-genitals/

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        • icon
          Gumnos (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:30am

          While I posted this a while back…

          WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Transportation Security Administration announces its recent partnership with the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning in time for the Christmas travel season, the Vatican will supply additional staff to perform pat-down searches and monitor the full-body scanners.

          A small but vocal minority of fliers have expressed concern regarding the program. TSA spokesman Dick Tickle dismisses the opposition as an aggrieved minority, stating that the financial savings and increased security benefit taxpayers and travellers alike.

          "My co-workers and I are uncomfortable with the intimate nature of the pat-down searches required for those who opt out of the full-body scannings," notes TSA agent Willie G. Roper. "The priests don't seem to object, the people trust them, and they reportedly bring years of experience with them."

          Father John Geoghan eagerly looks forward to helping secure America's transportation network. "I've seen the images produced by the backscatter/millimeter-wave systems, and there's no hiding anything."

          Given the expected success of the new program, Tickle hints that the agency plans to extend its subcontracting relationships, starting with state correctional institutions. "A number of parolees and work-release prisoners have a difficult time finding jobs because of their record. In some cases, their names will appear on the sex-offender registry for the rest of their life. We offer them hope at reintegrating into society while making travel safer."

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      • identicon
        fleegle, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

        Yup. Me too. Thanks to my 37-pocket Scott Vest, I don't carry carry-on bags either.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:00pm

        Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

        Shipping ahead works but that's extra work and expense. Also it really puts a damper on spontaneous trips.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:36pm

          Re: Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

          This is true. But given that flying is already an expensive and tiresome thing to do, I don't personally find that it makes the process much more work or expensive, and I get a lot of peace of mind from it.

          You have a good point about spontaneous trips -- that's not a problem that I have. Since the TSA has made flying such an awful experience, I avoid it unless I have no other option. So I don't make spontaneous trips.

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      • identicon
        CMason, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:22pm

        Re: Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

        Probably cheaper than checking the bags too

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    • identicon
      davep, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:15pm

      Re: How about an impenetrable cable tie?

      In the case of a zip tie, The TSA would cut the lock rather than the zip tie (from personal experience).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:58am

    At least they were't fondling him

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:09pm

      Re: At least they were't fondling him

      Only terrorists don't want to be pre-selected by a pervert to be illegally fondled....

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:04am

    So why are TSA agents allowed to live in homes that have working locks?

    Clearly they can't figure out how to open a lock they have a key for, so to keep the agents (and by extension, everyone else) safe, we should restrict TSA employees to living in homes that have no locks at all.

    My argument is broken and full of holes, you say? Isn't that standard practice when TSA is involved?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:10pm

      Re: So why are TSA agents allowed to live in homes that have working locks?

      Your argument is so broken that it will end up as the cornerstone of the Republican AND Democrat election manifesto....

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:13am

    This is yet another reason the government should not be given a built in backdoor for encryption. When given a backdoor they still won't use it and instead will proceed to inflict as much damage as possible.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:11pm

      Re:

      Bu..bu SIR, I tried to open the data in his laptop and it just wouldn't cooperate.



      supervisor: I've run out of tape, lets just stick this back together with dogshit and get the hell over to the bar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    randomjoe (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:15am

    Just a thought

    Maybe they tried their passkey and locked it instead.

    (Note: I'm not suggesting that excuses their stupidity)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lord Binky, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:24am

      Re: Just a thought

      More likely they had a level 10 dual-wielding Crowbarman working the entire conveyor belt that day. Didn't have a hand free to TRY a lock, but that doesn't matter when you KNOW it'll unlock with the tool in hand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:40pm

        Re: Re: Just a thought

        No more likely they never bothered to train the agent that cases like that exist, how to recognize them, and where they can get the codes to open it. Then he just assumed that it was locked and didn't bother to try opening it without using a crowbar.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Just a thought

          Or, even more likely, the TSA agent just couldn't be bothered to take the time to get the key/look up the combo, but had a crowbar sitting within easy reach.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:17am

    I wonder if the problem is that they only have one set of keys that they deliver from airport to airport when they need to open a suitcase much like the mechanics at the three U.S. military bases that sent their one pair of wrenches to so that they can open a missile.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2834315/Hagel-Top-bottom-changes-needed-nuke-force.h tml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:24am

    Also outsmarted by a plastic case for an electric razor

    My electric razor has a plastic case that doesn't even lock but requires only pushing the button on the end of the case to open it.

    Of course, the TSA couldn't figure it out. When I got to my destination, I found the case broken beyond repair. I remember being angry at first, briefly, before then being amused at how stupid one must be to be unable to learn how to push a simple button.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ambrellite, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:06am

      Re: Also outsmarted by a plastic case for an electric razor

      The work of the TSA's chimpanzee agents, no doubt. That's why I don't leave bananas in my checked luggage anymore.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:27pm

      Re: Also outsmarted by a plastic case for an electric razor

      If there is not a "things broken by stupid TSA agents" site or subreddit, there should be.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:37am

    this land is your land, these things are your things
    from kauai island to caribou
    from that northern slope to miami beach
    my stuff is yours to do whatever you care to.


    the america that woody knew, sullied though it was, is long gone and the wrongs and inequities that made woody sing will soon seem silly to complain about.  if not already.

    singapore, move over.  we're in for a bad time, us ordinary yokels.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:50am

    Alternate bagage carrier

    But by sending your bags another way, and checking in without luggage, doesn't that make you all the more suspicious? Wouldn't this trigger them bringing in the proctologist?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:24am

      Re: Alternate bagage carrier

      I know someone that was pulled aside as suspicious because they had, "No luggage at all".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:26am

      Re: Alternate bagage carrier

      Perhaps, but it's never caused me any problems. If it did, then I'd just buy a cheap old suitcase and clothes from a secondhand store and check that as a decoy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 9:53am

    Buy a starter pistol and travel with it.

    TSA will still inspect your baggage, but will do so in your presence, and afterwards, your bag will be carefully tracked and not opened. See http://lifehacker.com/5448014/pack-a-gun-to-protect-valuables-from-airline-theft-or-loss for details.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:00am

      Re: Buy a starter pistol and travel with it.

      Awesome.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Angels six, 15 Apr 2015 @ 6:49pm

      Re: Buy a starter pistol and travel with it.

      Not true, not even a little bit. TSA does not have to inspect your luggage in your presence, gun or not. Firearms are checked in by CSA' s at the airline, NOT TSA. Please stop spreading false information. They will still open and go through your bags, but will require you to open THE WEAPON CASE. Guns must be in a locked case of their own, even if packed inside of a suitcase. To open the firearms case, you must be present, but your presence is not necessary to go through your luggage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        anoncoward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 12:53am

        Re: Re: Buy a starter pistol and travel with it.

        Not if the luggage is the weapons case .
        http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition

        "The firearm must be in a hard-sided container that is locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft."

        so proper hard bagage will do it without any interior weapons case.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:14am

    TSA - Totally Stupid Agency

    A few years ago, I had to check in some luggage with my 1904 Gibson mandolin. The mandolin was in its hard-shell case, wrapped in bubble wrap, inside an aluminum suitcase, with TSA-approved locks. Of course, they broke into the case, dropped the mandolin, and caused $100s in damages to a unique instrument... Fortunately, it was repairable, barely. This is an instrument that has been played by the likes of David Grisman and Andy Statman (2 of the top bluegrass and jazz mandolin players in the world). Now, I NEVER check it in - I carry it onboard if I need to travel with it. At least the case is small enough to do that...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:27am

    Correlation

    I wonder if there is a correlation between destroyed luggage and new luggage sales and somebody at TSA's income? AKA a triple correlation play.

    Is there causation in this loop?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:28am

    Homeland Security Money

    Why don't we allocate some portion of the Homeland Security budget to fixing busted luggage, instead of buying Sno-Cone machines and Segways for police departments in Iowa?

    https://www.techdirt.com/search-g.php?q=homeland+security+money+wasted

    I know I'd feel safer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Liz Burton (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:44am

      Re: Homeland Security Money

      Better we should allocate the DHS to oblivion. It's done nothing with regard to the alleged reason it was created—ensuring cooperation among all government agencies involved for the sharing of necessary information to prevent terrorist attacks—and has instead militarized local law enforcement to the point many departments are small armies with elitist mindsets more focused on control than protection.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bill Jackson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:32am

    Force Detonated

    Caution, this case will explode if forced. It will not explode if the key/combination is used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:38am

      Re: Force Detonated

      *sound of you being arresting for bringing an alleged bomb onto the plane, as well as your luggage and all it's contents being even more thoroughly destroyed*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bill Jackson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 10:51am

        Re: Re: Force Detonated

        Of course, I could also bring a solid block of ABS plastic, shaped like a suitcase and with the handles and trim so it looks like a suitcase.

        This suitcase can not be opened...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:07am

          Re: Re: Re: Force Detonated

          Or get a bunch of cases in descending sizes to do the Russian doll thing.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Somewhat Anomalous, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: Force Detonated

          "Of course, I could also bring a solid block of ABS plastic, shaped like a suitcase and with the handles and trim so it looks like a suitcase.

          This suitcase can not be opened..."

          Use a 3D printer to print a solid translucent/transparent 'suitcase' with a non-operable printed gun inside, and the words "Fragile - Work of Art" on the exterior.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:03am

    Anyone remember those old Samsonite commercials of a gorilla attacking a suitcase?

    Wait. Did I just give an ad agency new material?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:31am

    From the stupid is as stupid does dept.

    It amazes me that Tech Dirt can rail against government ineptitude, yet still supports government control of the Internet (ala Net Neutrality).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:51am

      Re: From the stupid is as stupid does dept.

      Wow,that isn't even the same thing. Not even in the same ball park. Heck, not even in the same city with a ball park.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:54am

      Re: From the stupid is as stupid does dept.

      Ok Mr. "All Government Regulation is bad, M'Kay?" Do you think child labor laws are a bad thing? How about OSHA standards? Sure OSHA often makes little sense in the way it does things, but the alternative is WAY worse. Go read some history about working conditions during the Industrial Revolution before the government stepped in to regulate things. That's what happens when rich corporations are allowed to operate without rules.

      You forget why all those nasty regulations that the telcos are worried about were created in the first place. It wasn't an inherently evil government that wanted to persecute them for the lulz. No it was to force them to stop abusing the public. And most of these companies are either the same or descendent from the same companies that were responsible for those abuses in the first place. The telcos made this bed. Now they don't want to lie in it anymore but they haven't changed their ways at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:59am

      Re: From the stupid is as stupid does dept.

      Perhaps because:

      1) "The government" is not a monolithic entity. Some parts can exhibit extreme ineptitude while other parts can work brilliantly.

      2) Net neutrality is not "government control of the internet" in the way you imply.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:47pm

      Re: From the stupid is as stupid does dept.

      It amazes me that there are people who confuse government control of the Internet (not what's happening) with government control of ISP's (what's actually happening). It's not like there's a subtle or confusing difference between the two, or this something that hasn't been discussed to death. It's a wonder you can tie your own shoes...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bill Jackson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 11:44am

    lol

    all with locks...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dingledore the Flabberghaster, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:15pm

    I would so love to have

    a locked suitcase with a sprung base filled with a few thousand bouncy balls. (And some business cards saying "bouncy ball seller" to be safe).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:39pm

    United Fascists of America

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:08pm

    Someone needs to make a 'suitcase' that's basically a massive SOLID block of metal with an outer surface that resembles a suitcase.

    Then sit and giggle until you wet your pants as the TSA hammer and batter at the 'suitcase' trying to open it.......

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:21pm

      Re:

      a 2ft by 3ft by 1ft block of aluminum weighs 1,000 lb, and that is a small suitcase. Have fun getting it to the airport.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 3:27pm

        Re: Re:

        a 2ft by 3ft by 1ft block of aluminum weighs 1,000 lb, and that is a small suitcase.

        It doesn't actually have to be solid for the prank to work. I think it would be best if it had no seams or latches, just a handle. That would maximize the stupidity necessary to try to open such a thing, thus maximum lulz.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:08pm

    So, when a manufacturer advertises something as "TSA safe"

    Does the warranty apply when the unit is used as directed yet the TSA feels the need to destroy the unit anyway.

    I'd love to see a manufacturer disclaimer saying that their warranty doesn't cover acts of TSA stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:12pm

    Maybe the TSA advisor just bought Half life, got reality and fiction confused and decided a crowbar was the perfect tool to initiate the opening of a suitcase?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 1:35pm

    Shipping luggage separately from a flight sounds good in theory, but has major problems.

    Two of the last three trips across the country have had canceled flights that left me overnight in Denver and Chicago. That's especially unlucky, but not exceptional. In both of those cases I was scheduled to spend one night in the destination city, have a morning meeting, then travel onward. By having my luggage with me I was able to both change clothes and reschedule my flights without having to deal with luggage left behind.

    And what happens when your shipped luggage arrives a day or two late, after you have already left?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      Shipping ahead is not appropriate for all travel situations, obviously. One like you describe, where you're basically engaging in a stopover before continuing your flight, counts as one of those.

      If I were making a trip like that, though, I wouldn't rely on checked baggage regardless. I've seen far too many instances where the checked bags are lost or delayed. I'd bring what I need as a carryon instead.

      "And what happens when your shipped luggage arrives a day or two late, after you have already left?"

      I ship my baggage a week in advance so even if it's a day or two late, it will probably arrive before I do. That said, you face the exact same risk with checked baggage -- except that when your checked bags don't arrive, you probably won't be seeing them for at least a couple of weeks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nick (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 3:21pm

    Broke-Lock Mountain

    My family just took a trip from Utah to California. Not only did they inspect both bags both times (we're still at 100% inspection rate), but the locks were cut on the way back. They left a slip indicating they had to cut off the TSA-APPROVED lock in order to get in there.

    We're angry, needless to say.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    steeleweed, 15 Apr 2015 @ 4:43pm

    2nd time around

    After clearing TSA for a connecting flight in Houston, the flight was canceled and we had to exit the gate area and go back to ticketing to reschedule. 2nd time thru TSA, they pulled me aside and rummaged thru my carry-on, checked me out, etc. I asked why and was told 'X-ray showed something suspicious. Asked why they hadn't noticed it the first time, since nothing had changed. No response from Mr TSA. Being a bit snarky, I asked if this meant that someone with contraband had a 50/50 chance of slipping by unnoticed. Again no comment, but you see Mr TSA was pissed at being challenged - and not having an answer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    yankinwaoz (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 4:48pm

    Perhaps it wasn't the TSA

    So he has a busted up piece of luggage and the only clue is the TSA branded tape used to keep it closed. His article does not mention any other clues.

    What if some scumbag within the airline luggage system stole himself a roll of TSA tape?

    Then all he has to do is target promising bags, break it open, and close it with TSA tape. TSA gets the blame. He gets whatever goodies he finds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 16 Apr 2015 @ 10:46am

      Re: Perhaps it wasn't the TSA

      What if some scumbag within the airline luggage system stole himself a roll of TSA tape?

      Guys with that much initiative just get jobs with the TSA - that way they can also get paid for the activity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 5:16pm

    In other TSA related news, two TSA screeners at Denver airport have been fired after manipulating the screening system to grope men's genitals.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/04/14/denver_tsa_groping_dia_agents_fired.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Joy (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 8:21pm

    Maxi pads...

    I'm tempted to put a bunch of open maxi pads dipped in red dye on top of my clothes in my luggage. I could just check a suitcase full of red dyed tampons and see what happens. I could say it was part of an Art piece maybe...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    christoffer, 16 Apr 2015 @ 12:00am

    workaround

    A trick i heard about a while ago.
    1) buy a startpistol (no licence required on most countrie/states)
    2) buy luggage approved for transporting firearms.
    3) checkin this luggage.
    Now the rules for transporting firearms is such that the TSA is not allowed to open this case unless you are present. so you will be sent to a separate point and here they will inspekt you bag in your precence. then you will lock int and they will put a seal on to show that is is checked.

    se http://lifehacker.com/5448014/pack-a-gun-to-protect-valuables-from-airline-theft-or-loss

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2015 @ 8:08am

    What's the point of having luggage with a "backdoor" for TSA agents?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 16 Apr 2015 @ 9:23am

      Re:

      Before this story, I would have answered that the point is to avoid having your luggage damaged by TSA agents when they decide to open it.

      But apparently that reason is out the window.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alex, 17 Apr 2015 @ 12:18pm

    sue

    sounds like a lawsuit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2015 @ 12:54pm

    Why didn't he just file a tort claim?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lisa Simeone, 20 Apr 2015 @ 7:54am

    TSA abuse - happens all the time

    Sadly, nothing new. The TSA bullies, harasses, robs, and abuses people every day in this country. Destroying luggage is all part of the game. They especially love destroying "TSA-approved" locks. At TSA News we've documented thousands of cases of TSA crime and abuse. I don't have any illusions about things changing in my lifetime, but at least I'll go down fighting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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