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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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 10:56am

    Because Reasons

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

    In the end they will just apologize using a non-apology apology whilst shrugging their collective shoulders.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:33am

      Re: Because Reasons

      hmmm maybe they were trying to protect us from the dangers (possibly to one's sanity) of flying united.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:39pm

      Re: Because Reasons

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

      Isn't it obvious? If you were flying a plane, would you want supervillains in the cargo hold?

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

      • identicon
        Paul, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:19pm

        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.

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

        • identicon
          Alexandre Oliva, 24 Jul 2017 @ 9:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Because Reasons

          That makes no sense. Checked luggage is weighted and can be arranged to balance the plane, even if it contains heavy books; hand luggage isn't. No checked-in books would just push the imbalance to a place it's much harder to measure, let alone fix, and that could shift during the flight.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 25 Jul 2017 @ 12:30am

      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.

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

    • identicon
      E., 28 Jul 2017 @ 10:27am

      Re: Because Reasons

      Paper Cuts?

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

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 24 Jul 2017 @ 10:58am

    United is being devious. They are just trying to prove that TSA agents can't read at a remedial level.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:10am

    That comic book you are reading there, "V for Vendetta" isn't it? It advocates for the bombing of Government targets. You are in trouble little terrorist. - TSA in a very possible future.

    I wonder when we'll revisit this article but won't laugh about it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

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

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:29pm

        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.

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:51pm

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:15pm

        Re: Re:

        And because you have tried to arrest a government agent, the responding cops will fear for their lives......

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

      • icon
        Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 2:37pm

        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.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2017 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, sure you would.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:10am

    The Only Valid Explanation

    Anyone who says "It's not a comic book; it's a graphic novel" gets put on the no-fly list.

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:12am

    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.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:19am

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      That's why they limit the values for non-declared goods?

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

    • icon
      freedomfan (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:20am

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      Seems like that would apply to any valuables in checked luggage, wouldn't it? I have to assume the airlines have some protocol for dealing with such claims. Whatever it is, I very much doubt they are any more legally exposed when the claim involves comic books than when it involves jewelry, antiques, etc.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:27am

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      or maybe United knew there was a comic fan amongst the TSA agents dealing with checked luggage, and wanted to stop them acquiring some collectible comics.

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

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:48am

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      There are payout limits to non-declared goods. In any case, this is something that could happen *at any time* - and no one is buying million dollar comics at Comic-Con.

      And they're certainly not shipping it back in checked luggage.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:14pm

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      And I know this is probably a stretch, but ... blah blah blah

      Then they'd still be lying if they said the TSA made them do it, wouldn't they, my little apologist friend?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re: Playing devil's advocate

        they'd still be lying if they said the TSA made them do it

        How do we know it's not the TSA lying?

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

    • identicon
      Anon, 24 Jul 2017 @ 2:53pm

      Re: Playing devil's advocate

      I thought there's a limit to what the airline will pay (pretty low) an anything more you'd have to get your own insurance.

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

  • icon
    radarmonkey (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:16am

    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."

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:21am

      Re: CYA, but pass the blame

      You have to declare valuable items precisely because of it. Their standard insurance covers up to a determined value (I guess it depends on the company but I'm not sure).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:22am

    The real problem

    is that travelers will see this and decide that the signs are "fake" and that they do not need to heed any of the warnings or signs.

    Then when it is a real advisory from TSA and one doesn't comply....

    There is heck to pay.

    Thanks, United!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:27am

    so, what's the next restriction going to be when trying to enter, leave or move around the USA? when are the NAZI-esque passes going to come into force and the transport to whichever camp is deemed needed because you even WANTED to travel? talk about things getting worse by the second!

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:37am

    "there were no delays in the processing of checked bags out of San Diego yesterday"

    I call bullshit. There are delays in the processing of bags every day.

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

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:52am

      Re:

      Its like when the government doesn't change the rate of increase for an agency's budget but keeps the already programmed increase in place - that's 'not increasing the budget'.

      Same here.

      There's just the expected delay. And since its expected its not really a delay then.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 11:49am

    Great now SDCC is going to sue United for using their trademarks improperly.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:10pm

    Maybe its a weight thing and United doesn't want medical claims from the baggage handlers for hefting around suitcases full of comics.... ?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:19pm

    It is a Mickey Mouse operation after all.

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

  • icon
    eaving (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:21pm

    Two part question

    1) What is the upper weight limit on united carry on weights before they start charging you extra?

    2) How much extra is united hoping to collect in comic-con swag weight fees?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:52pm

    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'.

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

  • icon
    SteveG (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 12:53pm

    It's because United Breaks Guitars

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&am p;uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiW85SJ2aLVAhUDJcAKHV0RDIIQyCkIKzAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fw atch%3Fv%3D5YGc4zOqozo&usg=AFQjCNGAJwl6V5_qbDQEVS865Z6aIPGmoA

    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.

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

  • identicon
    bshock, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:02pm

    idiocy list

    Let's see:
    1) United beats the crap out of you
    2) United steals your pre-booked seats
    3) United breaks guitars (let's not forget this old but goodie)
    4) United screws with your comics...

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

  • icon
    z! (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:09pm

    Y'know, it's far more likely that a local TSA manager thought this would be a "good idea" and told United in SD, and nobody bothered to ask questions about it; it's usually some flunky that makes everyone look bad.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:10pm

    Just what the fuck is the TSA looking for? Exploding comic books? ROTFL

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

    • identicon
      Anon, 24 Jul 2017 @ 2:58pm

      Re: I Thought...

      This was in the news recently. Dense material like books are difficult to Xray - which is why they wanted to have everyone pull out their books (and then determine what you were reading...)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jul 2017 @ 1:50pm

    Rick rolled?

    Obviously, the sign is a very well-played third party prank.

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

  • identicon
    JOHN NEMESH, 24 Jul 2017 @ 2:41pm

    People are still flying United???

    You deserve what you get if you do!

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

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 24 Jul 2017 @ 4:06pm

    I bet it was Templeton Peck. Because this Comicon had no one who could help, and they called the A-team.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jul 2017 @ 6:09am

    The United States of America has become a joke.

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

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 25 Jul 2017 @ 10:04am

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Jul 25th, 2017 @ 6:09am

      What do you mean by becoming?
      A lot of people did not laugh at the start and a lot less are laughing now.

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


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