Thursday, September 27th, 2007
I just read Air Travel Just Got Worse for Photographers and it confirmed my recent experience at LAX airport last week: the TSA agent, upon seeing my camera bag in x-ray reversed the conveyor belt and asked me to remove both my Canon 5D with Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens attached as well as the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L lens I had in the bag.
I took them both out and put them in a plastic tray which at that point I had to get from the rear of the line making the situation incredibly awkward for me and others.
This looks like a new TSA policy but there was no notice or announcement of it as I unpacked my computer and took my shoes off and this meant that there were people behind me who got all bent that I was holding up the works and they tried to shove their stuff in the x-ray machine ahead of mine. I was happy to let them do this and the TSA agent behind the x-ray didn’t know how to handle it and so, there was a bit of an issue.
Those of you who travel with computers and other expensive grear know that you never let your stuff go through x-ray and sit on the other side unless you’re ready to walk through the metal detector. Letting others get ahead of you means that you run the risk of someone walking off with your stuff. TSA forced me to do this last week and I was not happy.
I should say, I’m very good about compliance: I just do what they ask of me willingly and with a smile on my face but when they don’t make it clear what they want they’re creating their own bottlenecks and hassles and as a passenger I resent paying the social and logistical price for their stupidity.
There has never been any signage about this in my experience in numerous airports and one has to listen to an ever-changing TSA agent barking out (rather rudely I might add) a list of what to do and what not to do which is not the best way to handle this. Not everyone coming through the line speaks English as a first language or at all so barking out instructions is certainly not the best way to handle this.
TSA: Make it clear what you want so people can be prepared and move quickly. If you don’t, you’re creating your own problems.
Note: here is TSA’s notice on this and you will note that they have not updated this notice to include SLR cameras and lenses: Passenger Security Checkpoints.