Back in the 1960s my uncle took a small suitcase down from his closet. He packed it for a business trip and headed to the airport.
While passing through security the guard discovered a handgun. My uncle explained he hadn't realized it was in there. The guard then asked for my uncle's phone number so he could call his wife to pick it up. He unloaded it and made the call.
My uncle made his flight and likely slapped the stewardess on the ass. My aunt picked up the gun. The end.
No one was shot. No one was arrested. No one was probed.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has identified a massive new threat to domestic airline security. No, it’s not ISIS, Al Qaeda, or the Taliban.
It’s the dead battery on your smartphone.
Last week, TSA announced what it called “enhanced security measures” in which passengers will be required to power up their cell phones before boarding their flight. According to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, TSA has “assesse[d] the global threat environment and reevaluate[d] the measures we take to promote aviation security.”
Your cell phone is evidently part of a “global threat environment,” and so it must be turned on in order to prove that it’s a legitimate mobile device.
“Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft,” the TSA now threatens. “The traveler [with a powerless device] may also undergo additional screening.” It seems the only truly powerless device in this situation is the traveler, who must yet again submit to the whims of an incompetent and unthinking bureaucracy.
“Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft.” Presumably, that means you’ll either have to miss your flight or throw your phone away. A few questions spring to mind as a result of this new announcement: is the TSA incapable of simply having a phone charger on hand with which to test a “powerless device?” And is the agency so criminally inept that it has no way to determine whether a “powerless device” is, in fact, an explosive device?
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