Facing OverZealous Airport Security at JFK: All Over a Tag

Mondays at Change.org Immigration blog should be informally adopted as “TSA Fail” days (although I suspect that happens every day of the year).

While traveling back from New York via John F. Kennedy Airport on Sunday morning, the long security clearance lines reminded me of the long lines of people awaiting visa approvals. To make matters worse, Transportation and Security Aviation decided to hold up the lines longer and do a thorough check of each item in the bag of a queer Latina in line behind me.

I cheekily asked her if she had done some accessory “packing.” Sometimes those things can look like a gun on TSA monitors. She understood and replied, “No. Not this time.” Some of us learn our lessons the hard way.

The TSA officer stared at the contents on the monitor for an incredibly long time. Then a female agent was asked to do a thorough check of the bag, removing and repacking each item, going through the edges and hunting for a “secret compartment.” We were very confused. What did they possibly spot that could have led to a baggage check of this extent?

I whipped out my iPhone to take some pictures only to be told to put it away. Ben Rattray, who is the founder of Change.org and present on the scene at the time, later noted that maybe it was “illegal” in an irony of sorts.

It turns out that my dear friend had checked in her baggage on the flight here and forgotten to remove the SFO-JFK Virgin America plane tag. Now they were giving her grief about it from JFK to SFO. Fantastic. I hope everyone standing in line and anxious about missing their flight felt a lot safer over a tag inspection.

The icing on the cake is that, due to the flight being packed and little room for more baggage, she passed through the overzealous security check only to be told that they would need to check in her carry-on luggage anyway.

No, I am not on the “no-fly” list. Yet.

Photo Credit: No Borders and Binaries

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