The TSA's new challenge
Tom and gang,
Having traveled with my Brain Cell and seeing what a breeze it is to remove the laptop from my bag, I thought of you guys immediately after reading this:
TSA is inviting bag designers and manufacturers to come up with creative ways to meet these design requirements,
• The carrying bag cannot exceed any one of the proposed dimensions – 16 inches in height, 24 inches wide and 36 inches long.
• The materials that make up the bag cannot degrade the quality of the X-ray image of the laptop.
• No straps, pockets, zippers, handles or closures of the bag can interfere with the image of the laptop.
• No electronics, chargers, batteries, wires, paper products, pens or other contents of the bag can shield the image of the laptop.
The TSA has also suggested three concepts of its own:
• A bag that would open completely and lie horizontally on the X-ray belt, such that one side with hold only the laptop.
• A bag that would open completely, leaving the laptop standing vertically, supported by clips.
• A bag that would pull apart in separate compartments, with one compartment containing only the laptop.
Think you're up to the (ridiculously specific) challenge? The second design concept is the one I most want to see sketched out. It's like a transformer!
Stay tuned for more on this topic!
TSA and I do not mix well. My new policy is to charge $500 extra for any gig than departs from USA airports, thanks to the cost of dealing with TSA.
Design a special bag that will conform to TSA X-ray 'requirements'? Over my dead body! Why? Any bag that does not use metal buckles or other metal HW will comply. Missing from the Req's is a list of materials that are opaque to the X-ray machine.
Why am I so angry? Because TSA has thrown a MUCH nastier stumbling block our way lately.
Have you heard/ read the new TSA lithium battery rules? Grrrrrr!
If you're a big back-up battery junkie as I am- you'll have to mail your big bricks in advance of your trip. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
You can mitigate many of the issues you mentioned
by simply shipping your gear to the next gig. Invoice
your clients for the costs. Kinko FedX and UPS stores
are all over the place. Do not use US mail unless you
have no other alternative.
Also, take a second look at the way you do business
with an eye to reducing the amount of gear you carry.
Zephyrnoid doesn't have much choice about in this -- it's not the amount of gear he's carrying but the fact that he wants to carry backup lithium batteries, and there are new regulations about that since January 1, 2008 as noted in this thread.
Originally Posted by PM4HIRE
Respectfully- That's impractical to ridiculous.
"simply shipping gear out of the USA" is neither that simple nor is it that cheap any more. USPS & FEDEX have picked up on this and continue to jack up their rates to take unfair advantage of our predicament.
If we cannot rely on the USPS, then it's time to either privatize it or de-commission it.
Nothing about TSA's laptop screening, shoe screening, baggage screening or Lithium ion Battery restrictions will have any bearing on risk mitigation. None. Think about this. If the rules are so much different at non USA departure points, then why are the TSA rules judged to be more effective? They're not. TSA is the laughing stock of the International air travel industry.
It's all busy work to justify the cost.
The only concept that makes any sense to me is the pre-screeing concept. Study me, my profession, my tools, my needs, my religion, my geopolitical POV, go ahead, get it all out and implant a Laissez Passe into a smart chip that's on my passport and let's be done with all this nonsense!
If I had more time, I'd deal with TSA properly.
Originally Posted by PM4HIRE
Look at who TSA trips up with this battery rubbish.
1) Professional Videographers and serious amateurs using outsized camcorder batteries and 3rd party batteries such as the Tekkeon 3450 (an amazing product). If there's one thing a pro shooter doesn't do, it's ship their main shooting gear ahead. I carry the camera, tapes and batteries in cabin always- to mitigate assignment abortion due to checked luggage loss (which has exploded in number lately)
2) Professional laptop users, from businessmen to juice hungry road warriors of all stripe
3) other miscellaneous professionals that are increasingly using electronics and tools - powered by LiIon batts.
Your TSA rant on this forum will not change TSA policy.
Personal attacks are not OK in the TOM BIHN forums: I am sure we can all find a way to discuss our opinions and views without resorting to them.
Indeed. And I appologize profusely if my exuberant protest took the tone of a personal attack.It is never intended that way, nor do I direct personal attacks at persons, irrespective of my opinions. For this reason I underscore the professionalism of my complaints with the preface "Respectfully". I really do mean it, when I write it, even if my contrary opinion is interpreted personally- this, a byproduct of personal perception and internet obtuseness.
While I respect the right of fellow luggage users and well as manufacturers to acquiesce to what I perceive and know are patently obstructionist TSA 'inventions', I feel obliged to respectfully and professionally voice my disagreement with such acquiesce as well.
Since '911', a plethora of stumbling blocks have been hurled in the direction of ALL citizens, benevolent and mischievous alike. The likely perpetrators are well known and the TSA is one of them.
We all know and respect that they have a duty to mitigate danger and disaster. I travel enough to appreciate that fact. However, I have logged no less than a dozen variances in the manner in which TSA screens hand luggage and there are at least four conflicting policies regarding laptops.
All I was trying to communicate, albeit in a less than cordial manner, is that while it's easy to dismiss the inconvenience to professional travelers of 'experimental' screening policies, I have yet to see any evidence that laptops and in general, Lithium Ion batteries are any more likely to be a risk area than the tens of thousands of pocket knives that are still confiscated en-masse by TSA each year. I do agree that some LiIon batteries can spontaneously explode under less than favorable circumstances, but the recent TSA restrictions do not mitigate this probability and indeed, the issue is not restricted to LiIon batteries. If TSA/DHS want to avoid the possibility that a would be malicious perpetuator disguise an explosive material as a very large LiOn cell, then they might as well just ban ALL sizes and types of batteries, since it only takes as much 'material' as a typical laptop or camcorder battery contains, to do the damage that we all fear.
Look, TSA has eased the butane cigarette lighter restriction on planes now (probably due to legions of addicted smokers here and in the rest of the world), and you can now carry gargantuan scissors on board if you wish. Then of course we still have the 'liquids and gels' issue, thanks to the legitimate alarms in London a while back.
I'm not saying that mitigation is not warranted, only that it needs to be managed intelligently and will all factors taken into consideration.
It's well known that TSA/DHA do not take all factors into consideration.
Shipping necessary gear ahead is not a practical solution, even if my objection sounds personal. I explained why it's impractical and though TSA may feel it doesn't need to read the Tom Bihn forum posts, I do manage to expose my gripes with the desired effect through Government and press channels that can nip absurdity in the bud- when it matters.
TSA, not us, need to work much harder figuring this out to stop the bad guys, without unduly inconveniencing the good guys.
Like I said, given more time, I'd stop what I'm doing to address this- but we have an election on our hands. One that may affect more than just TSA policies.
The most important and most troubling aspect of my complaint is that TSA has no response to these questions:
"What are incoming foreign travelers supposed to do once they have entered the US with an overage of Lithium Ion Batteries, which will subsequently be considered contraband and then confiscated (...and then auctioned off on E-bay) from them- upon their return to their points of origin outside the US?"
"Are ALL airports ALL over the world going to screen for these batteries that will likely be entering the US?" I doubt it. Few bother screening for shoes of travelers entering the US anymore. Some do and some do not bother with the metallic belts issue. It's all over the place.
Therefore, it's not just an issue that's limited to our US border.
Further. Many of the batteries that will be restricted from traveling with their owners out of the US, actually originate overseas and enter the US without any screening at all. Cargo risks have been well documented in the press since '911'.
This is what I mean when I emphasize a need for transparent and lucid discussion. Any time that we engage in acquiescence without challenge, we belie our higher intelligence and forfeit our rights. I have found that too many fellow forum members play the 'personal attack' card without back up. I certainly don't take it personally.
Originally Posted by Darcy
I too travel for work and have been affected since 9/11 by the seemingly arbitrary new rules and even more so by the inconsistent application of them when going through airport security.
I am lucky I suppose that I stay within the borders of the U.S. and have no international travel to deal with.
I need to travel with a fairly extensive selection of tools and equipment and prior to 9/11 I was welcome to check these in suitable containers as checked luggage and I was also welcome to pay a hefty premium per container even if I was careful to make sure they were below certain size and weight thresholds.
Since 9/11 I have been bannned entirely from checking anything like this at all and I have been forced to find other ways to get what I need where I need it.
I have tried shipping things ahead of me with varying outcomes.
I use large Pelican cases with custom partitions and custom cut foam inserts and almost everything I have shipped has survived the shipping but frequently I do not know this until the cases reach me whichh is often unpredictable.
I have noticed that every shipping option has gotten trulyterrible and the service has gotten to the point where I am just afraid to ship anything anywhere as it will get lost or destroyed.
I will never check or ship computers or fragile battery operated devices and it seems like a roulette game trying to predict just how much will be let through security when flying trip to trip.
I agree the TSA methods and personel do not instll confidence and seem to be more aggravating than anything else.
I have been forced to drive now most of the time!
I have learned to like it though and I certainly am compensated for it.
I get to listen to Audible books now and have a large collection of them.
It is hardly a practical solution for most of us but I havve worked it out,
It seems like more practical solutons for safe air travel should not be this difficult to work out but so far,we are on our own.
The fundamental question we all need to ask TSA is:
"How are various carry-on items being treated by Security in non-US airports?"
I'm hoping that someone within Tom Bihn Inc. can pose this question to a TSA POC for comment or to use their blog as a forum for this issue.
There is a lot more than merely passenger inconvenience at stake if specific or 'families' of gear are going to be a problem to get out of the US.
Lithium batteries are ubiquitous enough... They should start a pilot program like this: Check in your thinkpad t61 battery when you depart, and check out an identical battery at your destination air port... Obviously, for this to work, they would need a float of hundreds of each battery kind--but they can always pass the cost to the customer, and perhaps it wouldn't be too expensive anyway.
Or maybe I'm just daydreaming an un-feasible and all too expensive solution :P
Originally Posted by Patrick
This is like books-on-tape for truck drivers - I love it! The only problem I see would be the varying ages (and resultant charge) of the different battery. I'd hate to trade in my one-month old Macbook battery for a TSA-abused version from 2006. Plus, if I can't trust the TSA to reduce wait times (without charging for it...) then I can't imagine they'd have 200 different laptop batteries available.
Maybe Tom can design a hidden panel for all of us battery hogs?
People often wonder about the significance of the airplane on our logo. It's supposed to be evocative of those by-gone days when traveling was fun, and reading this thread makes me realize how un-fun travel has become for a lot of folks (I am reminded of "The Entity" on South Park).
In any event, I am compelled to bring this thread back around to its original theme by the news that the "white paper" I submitted to the TSA was accepted and they want to see a prototype by the end of this month (May 2008). I have no idea if pretty much all the designers/manufacturers that submitted were accepted to move on to this next level or if I was one of a few, but either way I will be working on a sample over these next weeks.
Wish me luck!