Airplanes / Aviation, Privacy, Travel / Vacation

The TSA Needs to Inspect Your Airport Coffee — Yes, The Cup You Bought AFTER Going Through Security

At this point, stuff like this doesn’t even make me mad. I’m just impressed. In a few years, I swear Ashton Kutcher will come out and that he’s been secretly working with the Transportation Security Administration on a new airport-themed reboot of Punk’d.

They dump grandpa’s ashes all over the floor. They accuse some guy of carrying a weapon, when it’s just his massive package. And now they apparently believe the massively overpriced, burnt Starbucks coffee you bought after getting ambiguously naked x-ray photos taken of you is SOMEHOW worth screening too.

[Stops to breathe]

OK. Let’s take a look. And, yes, OF COURSE we have video….

What. The. $%&#.

I’m honestly having trouble forming sentences because my head has fallen to the floor and is rolling around like an agitated Roomba.

Wired’s Threat Level gives some context:

A passenger flying from Columbus, Ohio, to Oakland, California, over the holiday weekend captured the practice on video while he was sitting with other passengers in the airport’s embarkment lounge waiting to board their flight.

As the unidentified passenger points out in commentary posted with his video to YouTube, the liquid testing is being done “well beyond the security check” and on liquids that passengers have purchased inside the security perimeter after they already passed through security screening and threw out any drinks they might have brought with them to the airport.

The passenger, identified only as Danno02 in his YouTube channel, writes that his wife and son were approached by TSA agents after purchasing drinks at a coffee shop around the corner from the passenger lounge.

WHY? What is the point of this? Isn’t the reason you can’t even bring liquid Benadryl through security so they don’t have to do this? If they’re going to swab our drinks after the gate anyway, just let me carry on my goddamn shampoo and wine bottles and do the whole thing at the gate.

WHY? Is there some underground Starbucks conspiracy operating within airports? I sincerely doubt it, but if there is, hey TSA, can you please tell us about it, instead of creepily going around what looks to be an entire terminal and swabbing everyone’s cups and water bottles — presumably filled from the airport drinking fountains. Maybe this is just what TSA agents do when they’re bored and need to look busy?

It does not compute. I feel like those aliens in Mars Attacks whose heads explode when they hear that awful country music.

The TSA, for its part, says this isn’t a new policy, and that besides, they aren’t actually touching the liquid in our cups. As if that makes it all okay:

[T]he TSA says the practice isn’t new — it’s been going on since 2007 — and is part of random screening techniques designed to catch liquid explosives that might slip through initial screening.

“TSA employs multiple layers of security throughout the airport where passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening,” the TSA said in a statement. “One measure may include testing liquids that are in a passenger’s possession. This is not a new procedure and at no time during the test is the liquid or the container ever touched.”

This totally misses the point. The problem is that it’s another piece of evidence showing that as soon as you walk into an airport, underpaid wannabe police officers with chips on their shoulders can demand whatever the hell they want and you have to comply or risk a trip to the ball-cupping room.

Look, I know the world is a dangerous place. But next week, it will have been 11 years since the World Trade Center attacks. Osama Bin Laden is dead; Saddam Hussein is dead. We’re around the corner from the third presidential election following the tragedy. Kids are entering middle school who weren’t alive when 9/11 happened.

Do I think things can go back to the good ol’ days? Probably not. But come on, just let me have the expectation of drinking my coffee in peace. It’s not too much to ask.

TSA Moves On From Your Underwear to Your Starbucks [Threat Level / Wired]

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