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New Rule: No Bottled Water on Flights

August 11th, 2006

I just got this alert from the U.S. Embassy concerning air travel:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing a series of security measures, some visible and some not visible, to ensure the security of the traveling public and the nation’s transportation system.


This includes all beverages, shampoo, suntan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.

Well, that’s nice. You can still bring matches on board so you can light up as soon as possible after deplaning, but bottled water is now forbidden.

OK, I understand, it’s because of the latest terrorist plot. But it’s still inconvenient as hell. And would it slow things up that much to be given the chance to take a swig from each water bottle at the security checkpoint to show it’s not an explosive?

They’d damned well better have lots of bottled water ready and waiting on all flights, as much as anybody and everybody can drink. I’ve been on flights where they ran out–which is why I typically bring along several bottles when I fly, and so do a lot of other people. Hydration is important on long flights, and I can just see them not caring enough about this. Even better, they should carry a new cache of bottled water and be ready to give as much as anyone wants when asked for, in the bottles–easier on the flight attendants than constantly filling those damned little cups. I used to travel longer, with more connecting flights, and I have to say, toothpaste and shampoo were kind of important; sometimes you can be up in the air a pretty long time, and you can get to feel pretty crummy without these things. Are people who want to brush after meals simply out of luck?

Note: as long as this is on the main page, check out the Sesame Street Terror Alert Notice in the sidebar–Elmo is up!

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  1. Shari
    August 11th, 2006 at 13:57 | #1

    My reaction to this was similar to yours. Mainly, that this is going to be hell for long flights where you need water since being dehydrated is a serious problem when flying. In fact, I have had stewardesses get testy with me for asking for more water and complain that I was asking for too much when I wanted more than one tiny cup.

    My guess is the airlines will use this as a chance to make more money. Don’t be surprised if they start selling bottles of water for $4 each to economy class passengers and packets of tiny tubes of toothpaste and disposable brushes for $6. :-p

  2. Luis
    August 11th, 2006 at 14:02 | #2

    Boy, if they try that… Maybe they will on domestic flights, which are famous for that kind of thing, but not on international flights. Hell, they give away alcoholic beverages in economy, I doubt they’ll start charging for water…

  3. Tim Kane
    August 11th, 2006 at 15:39 | #3

    I have been considering taking a job as a traveling consultant.

    I have a problem with my teeth, I must use tootpaste that has medication for sensitivity – a form of sensidyne. What they are saying is I will either have to check my bags, or go without the medicated tooth paste and take what I can get at the motel.

    Sometimes I have problems after only one day of regular tooth paste.

    Its just a big hassle. Fact is, if someone wants to kill you, they can, and they will – its just a matter of consequences they want to endure as a result.

    The key to all of this is creating a system where people don’t want to kill us. Perhaps we shouldn’t drop bombs on their head or deny them the right to pursue happyness as they know it.

    Because anyone can kill you at any time, makes me think that there is something fishy going on around here. I have a friend who has studied biology and said that anyone who has a degree in biology and a motive for doing so can cook up biological weapons that spread on their own with no problem. The acts of terror don’t make a lot of sense, nor does our response. I don’t know what it means, but it all seems or feels strange.

  4. August 11th, 2006 at 16:51 | #4

    Like I said on my own blog, all of a sudden, I’m not that upset I’m not coming to Japan next week like I had planned…

  5. ykw
    August 11th, 2006 at 22:40 | #5

    They often sell water after the security checkpoint. I think they can solve the problem of getting people water and security at the same time.

    What is a bit silly is they are banning liquids as carry on, yet you can check the liquids, and so the bomb could go into the cargo area, with a timer. How easy is that? Also, if they need to mix liquids, they could have a timer that mixes, and than another that blows. Defending against the last plot is a bit silly.

    It is very difficult to detect explosives.

    An interesting question I have is are they going to add restrictions on checked luggage ?

  6. Luis
    August 11th, 2006 at 23:00 | #6

    Selling water after the checkpoint would be the best solution if it’s really necessary to check liquids (as long as Shari’s prediction about stiffing the flying public doesn’t describe what they do). But your point about checked luggage is something that’s been in my mind since I heard about all this–I can only assume that they feel that random searches will dissuade that. Of course, if that’s the case, then why won’t random searches dissuade people with liquids in carry-ons?

    I think that the main reason this is happening is that the authorities are really just trying to cover their asses. Eventually, if the solution is unpopular, then it will be revoked. Look at matches–there were so many people who just HAD to light up immediately upon deplaning that they started allowing matches on flights again. Once the urgency fades, and if there’s no happy balance struck, they’ll probably go back to the way it was.

    Your mention of whether they will start restricting checked luggage has a worse aspect: what else they may restrict from carry-ons. In the UK, you can now bring no iPods or other electrical equipment. If I were subject to that, my iPod and Powerbook would have to be checked–and I might rather leave them behind. If the UK’s rules about electronic items is adopted worldwide, it will be a golden era for luggage thieves. No WAY I’m going to entrust my bags to that–especially when the airlines now demand that you leave your luggage UNLOCKED. The day may come when the nervous nellies start banning carry-ons at all.

    And as you mentioned, it won’t really stop the terrorists. But politicians’ asses will be extremely well-protected.

  7. Shari
    August 13th, 2006 at 13:34 | #7

    Perhaps this all points to a need to change the system by which both people and possessions are conveyed. I’m not exactly sure if that is possible but with so many airlines flying to the same destinations in close proximity of each other, one has to wonder if one “solution” would be to completely separate cargo and passengers such that luggage goes on one plane and people on the other.

    Carry-ons would still be an issue but they could restrict those to transparent tote bags with a list of allowable items. This would ease the need to check everything so carefully (as I’m sure blowing up planes full of luggage would be much less of a statement than killing planes full of people).

    As for Tim’s comment about people being able to kill you if they want, killing you is only the first step in terrorism. The main point is to spread fear and create an environment which guides thinking in a direction you want it turned. Biological weapons aren’t nearly as effective as bombs in this regard because they are too slow acting and don’t have the same media impact. One of the great coups for terrorism was the repeated showing of the World Trade Center destruction.

  8. Luis
    August 13th, 2006 at 13:41 | #8

    I dunno… there comes a point where you start being toocautious. One has to remember that even if there were the equivalent of one 9/11 each year, airplane travel would still have less than 1/10 the casualty rate than car travel. But, as you point out, it’s the horrific imagery that counts. What I think needs to happen is a shift in thinking, a realization that you’re in more peril from the local mugger than the international terrorist. It might be tougher than extreme airline security measures, but as you also pointed out, that is exactly the source of the terrorist’s power. The only way to defeat a terrorist is to show that he’s not nearly as terrifying as people think. Ironically, the exact opposite of what the Bush administration has been pushing non-stop for the past five years….

  9. Vin
    August 15th, 2006 at 02:37 | #9

    “I have a problem with my teeth, I must use tootpaste that has medication for sensitivity – a form of sensidyne. What they are saying is I will either have to check my bags, or go without the medicated tooth paste and take what I can get at the motel.”

    Well it looks like you’d be checking your bag then.

    It’s not really that big of a deal. Just check your liquids.

    There was this lady in line for security in front of me the other day I flew home. She made the biggest fuss about having to give up her precious toothpaste. And it was Crest, not a special brand like yours.

    People like that don’t deserve toothpaste. :)

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