Stories of going through airport security

I went through security three times at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport before my flight to Newark.

My original flight was cancelled due to inclement weather in Newark, so I get rescheduled onto another flight that arrived three hours later. I thought to myself, "That's strange. Both flights are going to Newark. It's not like the weather in Newark is nicer on the second flight."

Not surprisingly, after about an hour, the second flight was also cancelled.

Anyway, when going through security the first time, I spotted the monitor on one of the X-ray machines and was somewhat amused to see the Windows 98 boot screen. Windows 98: Not dead yet. (Actually, this was probably Windows 98 Embedded. I remember having to debug a problem with Windows 95 Embedded just last year. The product key validation algorithm was failing because the "issued date" in the product key was failing a sanity check and being rejected as "ridiculously out of range".) I decided not to take a picture, though. Security people get really nervous when you take their picture...

While going through security the second time, they decided that my knitting needles may be a problem. This was the first time anybody had given me trouble over my needles. Eventually they decided that I wasn't going to attack somebody by poking them with a knitting needle, but not before doing a more detailed search of my bag and my person. (Mind you, they were Number 2 needles, pointier than your average knitting needle.)

On my return from Newark to Seattle, the security person also made note of my knitting needles, but only to compliment me on my hobby.

Comments (13)
  1. Dan Maas says:

    Rumor has it airlines will put you on "hopeless" flights like that to keep you from grabbing the next flight on their competition.

  2. Raymond Chen says:

    Actually, the second flight was on a competitor’s airline. That’s why I had to go through security a second time: The other airline was in a different terminal.

  3. Matt says:

    The illusion of security that our (The U.S.) government has created with the TSA probably has no more practical value than to inconvenience many more people than was ever possible before.

    I can’t wait to get my airplane built. I *depsise* going through security in American airports. (Put a small minded person in a position of authority and they’ll say, "no" to anything because it’s the only power they have.)

  4. > Put a small minded person in a position of authority and they’ll say, "no" to anything because it’s the only power they have.

    This is why I love to fly in East-Asian countries. I had my bag of camera-film hand checked (as opposed to X-rayed) every flight during my last trip in Thailand and China. But when I came back to Sweden it was immediately a BIG no-no. I mean there were at least five people doing the security-check and I was the only person in the queue…*sigh*…

  5. Emily Harris says:

    My mother *always* gets her knitting needles taken away on flights. I have actually quit taking my knitting on airplanes just to avoid that problem.

    Part of me wants to look at a screener, put my purse and my knitting needles on the table in front of them and say, "Pick one to use as a weapon, I will attack you with the other," and see which item they thought was more dangerous in that situation. There is no way they will ever choose the knitting needles (especially not my little bamboo ones). Unfortunately, I think they would frown upon that….


  6. Robert says:

    Print out this page from the TSA and take it with you next time:

    A strange policy, though — knitting needles are allowed unless the TSA screener says they’re not.

  7. Mike Dunn says:

    I haven’t flown since Oct 2000, and I hated flying *before*… I can’t imagine doing it now. Everything about flying is so repulsive, from the airport smelling of jet exhaust to lines to the cramped seats [I’m 6’4"]. :(

  8. Catatonic says:

    Knitting needles? Are they afraid terrorists are going to give people abortions?

  9. unplug says:

    If you understand german there is a nice article at Heise Telepolis about security at Las Vegas Airport.

    A german journalist who just came from a conferense on Homeland Security went through security without a ticket (left it somewhere at the airport) and with a wrong name on her boarding pass (wasn’t noticed by security). As her american travelling companion said: "Very disturbing".

  10. Please enter your name says:

    I’ve never understood why a nailfile isn’t allowed but a glass bottle is.

  11. Michael C. says:

    Mike Dunn wrote: "…the cramped seats [I’m 6’4"]…"

    Same here. Maybe it’s in the name. ;) And haven’t scientists discovered that the average human height is increasing with each generation? I guess the President of Airplane Seat Arrangement™ in most airlines simply doesn’t care.

    An aquaintance of mine was flying a year or so after 9/11, and was surprised by the eating utensils the passengers were served. Plastic disposable knives, and a metal, long prong, fork.

    He wondered if anyone in the decision-making process for that choice of utensils had realized the damage one can do with a metal fork.

    Of course, the fact that business-class passengers were given the honor of being trusted with metal knives was also more than just slightly disturbing…

  12. Raymond Chen says:

    This entry is closed to comments.

  13. Cooking resources for geeks.

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