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25-September-2007 : A Good Reason To Stay With Your Bags Until They Are Cleared By The TSA!
Something I started doing a long time ago, when checking my lights, simply to make sure the TSA repacked them correctly has a new purpose today for me.
This past Friday a USA Today staff photographer was flying home from Little Rock, Arkansas (LIT) to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PHL) when her equipment caused a the TSA to over react, call the bomb squad, and evacuate the airport!
Whenever I place my gear into the care of a TSA screener, or when leaving my bag at the counter with a counter agent, I always ask them to inspect the bag in front of me. I explain the contents are fragile and that the bags contents always cause a hand check. I have only been refused a hand check twice. Both times the TSA ended up hand checking the bag in front of me after the CTX machine's photos of the inside of my bag caused alarm.
Let's be realistic. A TSA screener is looking for certain shapes, items, configurations. They don't know the particular ins-and-outs of certain professional specialty equipment. My rolling case holds two heads, a pack, two batteries, head-cords, power supplies, PC cords, pocket wizards, two Nikon speedlights, vice grips, etc. I understand that they can't see through the batteries, the Pocket Wizards may look like triggers (and they are). I understand that my bag should go through a secondary screening. I like to be ahead of the game and just let them know up front what they are looking at and that I'd like to witness the inspection.
Rather than go on about this subject, I'd rather you all click the following link and read a first hand account of how a USA Today staff photog's lighting bag shut down LIT and caused the terminal to be evacuated!
The lesson here , even for the most experienced flyer? You guessed, let them know what is i your bag up front and stick around until your baggage tag has a "TSA" sticker on it and us placed on the baggage belt.