The TSA & United Disagree Over TSA Policy

Comic-Con took place in San Diego this past weekend, and not surprisingly, many attending the event left with comic books. However, those booked on United were told to remove all comic books from checked bags. There were signs at the airport stating this, and United also confirmed the policy on Twitter.

According to United’s statement on Twitter, this restriction applied to all airlines operating out of San Diego, and was set by the TSA.

The only problem is that for once this may not actually have been the TSA’s fault, as they claimed that they have no such policy.

The Consumerist has done some investigating, and reached out to a TSA spokesperson, who said the following:

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 where did United get this directive from? It’s anyone’s guess.

Last week the TSA did share some Comic-Con travel tips, which included the following:

Pack items such as stacks of brochures and assorted comic books in your carry-on bag. Place them in a bin prior to sending them through the x-ray. Packing these items in checked bags often causes alarms leading to bag searches which can cause a significant slowdown in the screening process leading to delays and bags possibly missing their flights.

The TSA didn’t outright claim that comic books are prohibited in checked bags, but they did recommend packing them in carry-on bags, and said that putting them in checked bags could cause alarms and lead to bag searches.

In the past the TSA did briefly ask passengers at select airports to remove books from bags, given that they can be used to conceal things, and glossy covers can also make it tough to screen bags. However, this was done as a test, and was never an actual TSA policy.

So for now the origin of this restriction remains a mystery. Regardless, it doesn’t come as a surprise that either United or the TSA are to blame here.

Comments

  1. fwiw, our company gives away a custom card game, and too many decks of cards in a bag leads to a search every time. Densely packed paper or card stock apparently disrupts x-ray imaging.

    I’ve also seen similar warnings at airports around programs for the Super Bowl and NCAA finals.

  2. Ben, don’t you keep up with the news? It’s to foil the comic book based explosives that the terrorists are plotting with to take down airliners lol.

  3. Soon, all books will be banned by the current US administration, working closely with the governments of Poland, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

  4. May it be from holograms? I know that the hologram stickers often placed on tags for sports-licensed merchandise often set off X-ray machines.

  5. @Chuck Lesker “Soon, all books will be banned by the current US administration”….

    That’s totally Fake News. On the contrary, it’s just been leaked to the NYT by an anonymous source that soon everyone will be required to carry a hard back copy of The Art Of The Deal with them at all times. Rachel Maddow will have a 3 hour Special Report about that on MSNBC tonight. It’s certainly ‘Must See TV’. 🙂

  6. ROFL – imagine trying to pry a christian bible out of someone’s hands. lol. Though I’m sure all other books will be banned soon enough in ‘merika.

  7. Okay… some of the passenger interface issues with United at least had some emotion, etc involved. When this thing popped up somewhere within San Diego Management, SOMEBODY should had stepped forward and asked where the hell this came from. It would have been so simple to check with the TSA.

    This shows a real culture issue. Amazing.

  8. I flew out of the San Diego airport two weeks ago and Delta had very similar printed signs taped to each check in kiosk saying something to the effect of “ESRI Attendees: Remove conference books from checked luggage.” I wasn’t there for the conference, so I didn’t have any books in my luggage to start, but I thought it was odd.

    So it’s not just United. It seemed like a lot of people were getting the “random” metal detector beep for additional screening also, and I got the notice my checked luggage was inspected by the TSA for the first time in a while, as more anecdotes.

  9. Good morning from Kazakhstan,

    I can hear the people collectively laughing about ‘Murica all over town here this morning.

    As pathetic and ridiculous United can be this really takes the cake.

    Remember your copies of “Fahrenheit 451” next time you fly the unfriendly skies. Or will that get you dragged off the plane by fake rent-a-cops?

  10. Both disgusting groups United and TSA

    Most likely to lie: TSA

    Have to side with United on this one.

  11. Face it Ben, you don’t like UA because they don’t give you freebies like the mid-east puppet
    airlines give to you.

  12. Never had great experience on United. They purposely overbook their flights. Have had several probs with this…and TSA sucks naturally… both can rot in hell….

  13. Was United contacted to provide a response and were they given a business day to respond?
    Responsible journalism please.

  14. Maybe airlines are trying to minimize extra bag screening which might delay on-time departures? Just a gues…..

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