I snuck this past airport security.

Christina here…

Right now, at this very moment, I’m in the Cincinnati airport.

My husband and I have just finished our week of atheisting at the Secular Lobby Day,  Reason Rally and the American Atheist National conference. We’re pooped, and we’ve been beset by delays all day trying to get home to St. Louis.

Today has been a crazy day. We woke up at 9:30 and walked to the bus stop (The Maryland Transit Authority said a bus at this stop would take us to the airport 30 miles away for $5 a person). We discovered the bus stop desolate, a sign taped to the bench proclaiming that the stop would close on February 20th. After talking to the MTA for 20 minutes (and missing the bus- wherever it was), we walked 15 minutes to the correct (new) stop. The bus picked us up, and dropped us off at the airport. Security lines were long, yet we passed through without a hitch. We ran to our terminal and watched our plane depart.

We rebooked our flights for 4 hours later, poked around, flew to Cincinnati, and now our plane has been delayed by one hour. We’ll probably get home around 11pm St. Louis time.

Many of the Reason Rally attendees stayed at the Hyatt, and I LOVE their White Ginger Shampoo and conditioner, so I had some extra bottles sent up to JT’s room (P.S. If any of you ever stay at the Hyatt and feel like saving me your Portico White Ginger stuff, I’ll love you forever)

I ended up with 14 bottles. We also purchased shaving cream, sunscreen, mousse, and I had brought along Drysol, an aluminum-chloride suspension I put on my hands to keep them from sweating so much (I have hyperhydrosis)

I planned to check my little rolling suitcase, because TSA does not allow one to carry on this many liquids. However, when we got to the BWI airport, I was in a rush, so depending on how you look at it, I either forgot about my contraband, or decided to see if I could go through security with them.

All of these liquids were packed in the same spot among my clothes in my suitcase. I don’t know exactly how many fluid oz (because the stuff is still in my bag and I don’t feel like opening it to check), but the Portico shampoos/conditioners are 1.25 each. My guess is that I’ve got around 40oz.  That’s about 1180ml.

Earlier today, at the BWI airport, I went to the bathroom, whipped out my camera and took a pic of the offending contraband.

Crap – we’re boarding! I’ll update this post later!

Update/finishing this blog post:

Well, we’re home now!

Anyway, I’m not sure entirely if this many small liquid containers are allowed, and my reading of TSA’s rules indicates that they aren’t. So, I kinda wonder why they all went unnoticed when the bag went through the scanners.

A commenter suggested that TSA could retroactively fine me for my shampoo, but a reading of their policy does not seem to indicate such:

Items for which fines may be imposed include firearms, ammunition and other explosives, incendiaries including larger amounts of self-defense spray, and certain dangerous knives.  Fines also may be imposed when passengers attempt to artfully conceal prohibited items or behave in a manner that is so uncooperative and disruptive that it physically interferes with the screening process.  Carrying some prohibited items could result in both a civil and criminal enforcement action.

Aw, we can be fined for artistry in concealment? Man. I was just thinking of starting my own concealment crafting business.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

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  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

    Hey! You were right across the river! {waves backwards in time}

  • Katkinkate

    I heard it was OK as long as it was in little bottles. That is, multiple small bottles are OK one big bottle not.

  • Trebuchet

    @Katkinkate: No, I think all the little bottles have to fit in one 1-qt zip bag.

    How about bottles with dead mice in them? Any results from the experiment?

  • AJ

    I just read this debate on the effectiveness / usefulness of TSA. Since it pertains to your situation you might find it interesting as well.


  • Tex

    lmao wish Id gotten through security that luckily last year… unfortunately I forgot something your definitely not supposed to have in my bag from a prior trip in which I drove and ended up seeing where they take people TSA doesnt like.

    Might be careful about this post, apparently if TSA has reason to suspect you broke the rules they can send you a not insignificant ticket. Not sure how much they’d care after the fact like this, but they are fairly over zealous in my experience (confirmed by the lady at the courthouse I talked to after my incident)

  • HP

    I wish I’d known in a more timely fashion, but I worked late tonight, and stopped at the grocery, and FTB is horrible about updating RSS feeds.

    Sorry your unscheduled stay at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport wasn’t more comfortable.

    Next time . . . .

  • rq

    There’s a post about the TSA on Pharyngula that you might be interested in reading after this adventure – it has a link to an article about how easy it actually is to get past security checks… :)

  • Gordon

    I hate security theatre so much. I used to always fly back from Ireland with at least two big bottles of Club Orange, the Irish soft drink – largely unavailable outside Ireland.

  • Mark

    It is not the total volume but the individual container sizes according to the TSA rules, as long as you can fit them all in a single quart size bag.


    I am not sure what the reasoning is, but it may be more related to effective pipe-bomb vessel volume rather than what is actually in the containers. I fly an average of 50 times a year and often see empty containers turned away if they are larger than 3.4 oz.

    • b00ger

      From the debate / article I posted yesterday. Medical supplies are not limited by the 3oz. rule. The guy was able to get a two 12-oz. bottles of liquid through TSA by slapping a “Saline Solution” label on said bottles. No one checked what the liquid actually was, merely slapping labels on the bottle was enough to get it through.

      • Mark

        These inconsistencies are typical of a scientocratic/technocratic society where the enforcers on the lowest level blindly appeal to the anonymous “expert” authorities without critical thought. Rules without reason are enforced with the faithful assumption that somewhere, someone qualified must made the right decision.

  • darksmurf

    As a Baltimore resident, I can assure you that the MTA sucks. I use it every day to get to/from school (I don’t have a car). In the future, I would recommend just shelling out the 16 bucks for an Amtrak ticket to BWI rail station – there is a free shuttle from the station to the terminal.

  • Amy Larimer

    I’ve gotten away with not even using a quart sized bag anymore, or taking them out of the suitcase. Stupid rule anyway. If 12 oz (for example) of anything is dangerous, then what difference does it make what size bottle or bag it is is?

  • http://www.cstdbill.com/ Bill

    Did you go to the American Atheist convention, too? I was hoping to go, but couldn’t take the time off work; but I had looked in to transportation.

    From the hotel in Bethesda, the Red Line would have taken you straight to Union Station where at about 4:00pm you could have caught train 29, the Capitol Limited, to Chicago, then train 21, the Texas Eagle, to St. Louis, arriving around 7:30pm or so the day after you left D.C. It might have taken a little longer; but it would have been a whole lot less stressful; and you wouldn’t have had any TSA hassle.

    —Bill Seymour, also from St. Louis