Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Liquids & Gels Ban Eased This Week? Good, I Guess, But I Can't Tell The Difference

Good news arrived earlier this week from TSA that small quantities of liquids and gels will now be allowed through security as long as in clear plastic bags that they can inspect easily. Yeah, that's great news.

Except that I really can't tell the difference.

You see, I went through a purge of my Dopp kit back in August when the BIG BAN first hit, and then later put a few prohibited items (toothpaste and shaving cream) back in my kit and simply checked it alone (see my August 27th blog post). But after waiting too long at the luggage carousel after several late flights I decided to replace the banned items with acceptable substitutes so I could carry on all my luggage again.

So I bought an old-fashioned shaving brush (hog's bristle--available at CVS) and shaving soap (ditto), and I purchased some Shower-To-Shower deodorant powder (yes, solid deodorants are SUPPOSEDLY allowed, but apparently not all TSA folks watched that training video). I am still short any toothpaste, but I find most hotels have some extra if you ask (see my September 12th post).

And thus re-equipped, I threw my old Dopp kit into my carry-on bag and went to the airport. I thought for sure that TSA would x-ray my bag and then paw through my Dopp kit to look for contraband materials, but it has never happened once in the 20+ times I have entered security at various airports since (RDU, IND, DTW, ORD, MQT, LGA, CMH, CVG).

Every time I put my bag into the machine I tell them, "My Dopp kit is in my bag, but I have no liquids or gels." Not that they care or seem to listen. No disrespect meant, either. TSA personnel are just usually so engaged and focused on looking at the x-ray images that they rarely even look my way, let along acknowledge that they heard me. But whatever they are seeing in those images, it must not look threatening, because no TSA person has yet wanted to take a look.

So the new so-called relaxed rule is a yawner for me. I've already been carrying everything on again for weeks, which has been a huge relief. 'Cause let's face it, checking ANY luggage, no matter how small, is a hassle. Not only is there the long wait at the other end, but, worse, if any disruption occurs en route (late flight, missed connection, cancelled flight), having all my luggage with me gives me a lot more options.

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