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.
— Adi Chappo (@adichappo) July 23, 2017
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 restriction on checking comic books applies to all airlines operating out of San Diego this weekend and is set by the TSA. ^MD
— United (@united) July 23, 2017
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.
Good afternoon. Pls note there are no TSA restrictions on checking comic books or any other types of books. https://t.co/Nu00IvcZSc
— TSA (@TSA) July 24, 2017
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.