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MacBook Air Confuses Airport Security

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the when-consumer-electronics-attack dept.

550

Ant writes "MacNN reports that the thin design of Apple's MacBook Air is causing some confusion for the technically ignorant, according to one blogger who says that the ultra-portable caused him to miss his flight. When going through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security checkpoint, blogger Michael Nygard was held up as security staff gathered around his MacBook Air, trying to make sense of the slender laptop/notebook. One of the less technically knowledgeable staff points out the lack of standard features as cause for alarm..."

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550 comments

irony (0, Offtopic)

genican1 (1150855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711672)

The fist thing I see on this page is an add for MacBooks!

Re:irony (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712008)

No irony is misspelling the word "first" in a first-post.

Re:irony (5, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712046)

irony: The fist thing I see on this page is an add for MacBooks!

It's not even Alanis ironic.

The whole story is part of a viral marketing campaign intended to establish the Air as different, iconic.

Behind me, I hear the younger agent, perhaps not realizing that even the TSA must obey TSA rules, repeating himself.

"It's a MacBook Air."

It's 1984 all over again...

slashvertisement (2, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711682)

Besides that, it seems they were confused as to which set of procedures they had to apply to it. Is it a laptop or is it an "electronic device".. Seems the definition of a laptop included a hard drive.

Ooga Chaka (5, Funny)

ZeroFactorial (1025676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711758)

In other news, the Ooga Chaka tribe brutally murdered a tourist to their village who was carrying a double-blunt-ended walking stick.

Apparently, the "spear with a lack of features" was cause for great alarm among the Ooga-Chakas.

Re:slashvertisement (5, Insightful)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711954)

It really boils down to the technically ignorant doing work that requires at some point a certain minimum level of technical competence. Kind of like a PHB making computer and networking decisions. I have not flown commercial in many years. The more stories I hear from my friends who still fly, the more I will take the train. There may be a case where I will fly again some day, but not if a viable alternative is available. I used to like to fly. I liked zipping into different cities, doing my job and popping back. It was exciting. Now, it would just be painful. Not my cup of tea.

BTW, if you fly on private craft, my experience so far has been a decided lack of idiots to deal with. Kind of makes the cost and time to get a pilots license that much more attractive.

InnerWeb

Private Pilot License (5, Informative)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712180)

Don't bother. End of this year the government has a new tax package and special user fees that will increase the costs by over 400% (proceeds going to fund tax breaks for the airlines, of course) and "increase security" for private airfields as well. It was nice while it lasted but the party's over.

Ok - this is just getting silly! (3, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711684)

Now even the (supposed?) lack of features in the MacBookAir is a security issue??? I knew some individuals got a little worked up about it, but really!

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (4, Insightful)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711722)

I bet during training they are told to look for things that may be designed to "look like" common things, and a laptop without ports would probably gain the notice of less tech savvy screeners.

I am sure those uber tiny laptops get as much attention as well.

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (-1, Flamebait)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711756)

Well lord knows they couldn't get someone technically adept, who knows these things! (and could possibly run hi tech gadgets like say, an X-ray scanner :p)

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (5, Funny)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711892)

Perhaps those technically adept people choose not to stand behind an X-ray scanner for 12 hours a day.

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711810)

I bet during training they are told to look for things that may be designed to "look like" common things, and a laptop without ports would probably gain the notice of less tech savvy screeners.
To the contrary, it seems like they get confused by things unknown to them. A long, long time ago I went to the USA and had a similar gathering of security staff because of a box of 3.5" floppies... It was before looking for terrorists was in fashion; they could possibly taken the floppies for some spy devices or whatever (being found on someone from ex-eastern bloc) -- but I can't think of any plausible explanation.

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712106)

Back in 1996 or 1997 I got some funny looks from security after the wire connecting the main AA cells in my Psion Series 3a PDA broke, in the International terminal at Boston Logan. The button cell that served as backup power for the memory wouldn't last the duration of the flight to London (where I might have gotten it fixed professionally), and I had data in it that I'd need after I got there. So I bought a travel sewing kit* at the newsstand (the safety pin made a good fine tool), got out my tweezers and Swiss Army knife* to help disassemble the PDA and to strip the wire a little, and spent the half hour before my flight in the waiting area at the gate, hunched over the "device" and performing emergency field surgery to make a solid connection between the AAs and the electronics. I snapped it all back together just as they called for boarding.

And the in-flight movie? Executive Decision, in which the Bad Guy uses a Psion Series 3a as the remote control for a bomb on the plane.

*Did I mention that this was way before Sept. 2001?

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (5, Insightful)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712136)

This seems very reasonable. No ports, no disc drive, completely metallic instead of plastic. I could see how it would set of some warning bells that there might be more to this guy's laptop than he claims. Taken in this light it actually raises my views of the TSA and certainly makes it seem like they're actually looking out for potential safety threats.

Either way, had he been there a little earlier he could have had plenty of time to explain his new gadget and boarded the plane. TSA (and common sense) - 1, jackass blogger - 0.

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (-1, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711740)

One of the less technically knowledgeable staff points out the lack of standard features as cause for alarm
hey, he's not the only one lol. I don't think they were referring to the fact that it won't run 99% of software out there and is probably a heating nightmare waiting to happen like those giant all in the monitor beasts they call computers. My college had one and it kept overheating so they got rid of it about 3 weeks after they bought it. They always put looks over features and functionality. But really, if you wanted to build a bomb, would you put a bunch of ports and stuff on it? :-P

Can't blame them (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711774)

it looks like TEH BOMB!!!11...

(either that or they just want one)

(or they just want to rub their thing on.. awww nvmd this one..)

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (3, Funny)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711776)

That surprises you?

This is TSA: even water is a dangerous substance, except when you throw it away.

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (4, Funny)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711792)

I'd be a bit careful about water. Everyone who has ever died on this planet has drunk water at some stage in their life. Coincidence? I think not...

Re:Ok - this is just getting silly! (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711866)

Actually, water can be toxic [wikipedia.org] , and lethal if enough is ingested.

That has nothing to do with explosives or planes, though.

Jock Son/ For Big Daddy - m4m - 18 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711700)

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Re:Jock Son/ For Big Daddy - m4m - 18 (1)

Vehstijul (85085) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711726)

Wow.. Goatse and the MacBook Air together on the same thread--is there an Apple ad somewhere here?

MacBook Air--so small you can store it anywhere!

Idiots... (0)

flajann (658201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711704)

What kind of idiots do they hire for these things?

There you have it. Homeland Insecurity. A bomb in every laptop. What morons.

Re:Idiots... (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711744)

You have to remember, That for every 1 person that is "above average", there is one person "below average" (assuming a normal distribution)

Re:Idiots... (3, Insightful)

spud603 (832173) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711788)

Not to get off topic, but you really can't assume any sort of symmetric distribution with something like "tech savviness". More likely there are a whole lot more folks below the mean than above it (long tail on the high end).

Re:Idiots... (5, Funny)

Stinky Fartface (852045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711790)

Not just any bomb, mind you. It's a really thin bomb. With NO optical drive, which makes it perfectly useless to me.

Re:Idiots...(Protected) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711824)

Good thing the Dems federalized them so they are protected under civil service rules. Otherwise they would be fired.

Re:Idiots... (4, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711850)

From https://tsacarrers.taleo.net/ [taleo.net] Read to the end... I was not scared before I read this, but now...

1802-Transportation Security Officer (TSO) (Screener) - SUN107

Job Description

Apply Online

Description
As a Transportation Security Officer (TSO) (Screener):

You will perform a variety of duties related to providing security and protection of air travelers, airports and aircraft. You will be responsible for identifying dangerous objects in baggage, cargo and/or on passengers; and preventing those objects from being transported onto aircraft. You are required to perform various tasks such as: wanding, pat down searches, operation of x-ray machines, lift and carry baggage (weighing up to 70 pounds), and screening and ticket review using electronic and imaging equipment. As a TSO, you may perform passenger screening, baggage screening or both. You are expected to perform these duties in a courteous and professional manner.

* Communicate with the public, giving directions and responding to inquiries in a professional and courteous manner.
* Maintain focus and awareness within an environment containing numerous distractions, people, and noise.
* Stand and remain standing for periods up to 4 hours without sitting.
* Repeatedly lift and carry an object weighing up to 70 pounds.
* Work within a stressful environment, which includes noise from alarms, machinery, and people, distractions, time pressure, disruptive and angry passengers, and the requirement to identify and locate potentially life-threatening devices and devices intended on creating massive destruction.
* Make effective decisions in both crisis and routine situations.

Work Schedule: Full-time Split-Shift (40 hours per week). A Split Shift schedule is defined as any two shifts, lasting at least two (2) hours each, in one 24-hour period with a break of at least two (2) hours between shifts. Full-time work hours for this position consists of shift-work on any day from Sunday through Saturday, which may include irregular hours, nights, holidays, overtime, extended shifts and weekend shifts, changing shifts, and split shifts. Exceptions include additional shifts to support morning, midday, and afternoon or evening operations. Specific work shifts and schedules will be determined by the airport.

TSA will not pay any pre-employment travel expenses (e.g., travel to and from testing, medical examination facilities and assessment sites). As part of the evaluation process you will be required to travel to a TSA specified medical facility within commuting area of the airport for which you applied.

Qualifications

1. You must be a U.S.Citizen or U.S. National; AND
2. You must have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR at least one year of full-time work experience in security work, aviation screener work, or x-ray technician work.

Possess the following job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities:

* English Proficiency (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, listening)
* Mental Abilities (e.g., visual observation and identification, mental rotation)
* Interpersonal Skills (e.g., customer service, dependability)
* Work Values (e.g., responsibility, honesty, integrity)
* Physical Abilities(e.g. repeatedly lifting and carrying baggage weighing up to 70 lbs, bending, reaching, stooping, squatting, standing, and walking and identifying objects by touch).

All TSOs must meet the following standards:

* Distant vision correctable to 20/30 or better in the best eye and 20/100 or better in the worse eye
* Near vision correctable to 20/40 or better binocular
* Color perception (e.g., red, green, blue, yellow, orange, purple, brown, black, white, gray) note: color filters (e.g., contact lenses) for enhancing color discrimination are prohibited.
* Hearing as measured by audiometry cannot exceed: a) an average hearing loss of 25 decibels (ANSI) at 500, 1000, 2000 and 3000Hz in each ear, b) single reading of 45 decibels at 4000 Hz and 6000 Hz in each ear
* Adequate joint mobility, dexterity and range of motion, strength, and stability (to lift and move objects weighing up to 70 pounds), as well as a complete medical evaluation including cardiovascular system, hypertension, etc.

Conditions of Employment:

To be considered for employment, you must be able to:

* Demonstrate daily a fitness for duty without impairment due to illegal drugs, sleep deprivation, medication, or alcohol;
* Work all of the following: irregular hours and/or shifts, including split-shifts; holidays and weekends; overtime; and extended hours;
* Pass a Drug and Alcohol Screening; and
* Pass a background investigation, including a criminal check and a credit check.

In addition, you must successfully complete required training, which includes: 56-72 hours of classroom training, 112-128 hours of on-the-job training, and a certification examination.

Continued employment is contingent upon passing recurrent training and certification exams on a periodic basis.

This is a non-critical sensitive National Security position that requires you to be fingerprinted, photographed, and complete appropriate security paperwork, including a SF-86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions. If your credit check reveals that you have defaulted on $5,000 or more in debt (excluding certain circumstances of bankruptcy), owe any delinquent Federal or State taxes, or owe any past due child support payments, you will not be eligible for this position.

TSA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to non-merit factors as race, color, religion, gender, handicap, age, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, non-disqualifying disabilities, membership or non-membership in an employee organization, personal favoritism, protected genetic information, or status as a parent. TSA does have requirements to provide same-gender screening to travelers to protect their privacy.

If you are a qualified candidate with a disability and you wish to request a reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act (the federal governments version of the Americans with Disabilities Act), you may download the appropriate forms at https://tsacareers.taleo.net/accommodation/ [taleo.net] or you may call the TSA Recruitment Center at 1-800-887-1895 or TTY 1-800-887-5506.

Pay Band (Does not include locality pay) D - Minimum $24,432 - Maximum $36,648
So do you think they skimp on some qualifications to make the pay scale?

Re:Idiots... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711936)

Since the purpose of the TSA isn't to stop terrorism but to act as a social placebo, would you really want to waste hundreds of thousands of intelligent and educated man-hours on it?

Re:Idiots... (1)

evanism (600676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711970)

so its actually:

- Is Alive
- Can HEAR thunder
- Can SEE lightning

Ability to grunt gutturally a benefit.

Re:Idiots... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711858)

You've got to remember the rapid speed at which new electronic gadgets come on the market. On the salary of an airport security guard, they're probably not going to be able to go to those trade conferences every year ... some common ones:

The deduction logic thus works as follows:

External USB hard disk drive cases = flat metallic objects => body armour

Fisheye camera lens = circular metallic object => land mine or grenade

Computer cables = long thin stretchy objects with connectors at each end => detonation cord

Re:Idiots... (1)

Godji (957148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712030)

So that's what a friend of mine must have meant when he told me that "Macbook Air is da BOMB, you know!"

Obviously (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711706)

Obviously if it doesn't have a dvd-thingamawhat, it isn't a computer! How would you download your netfix drives? Also, whats whith the glowing fruit? Could that be a terrorist symbol?

What would they think if I brought my Asus EEE with an ubuntu sticker on it?

TSA has a hard job (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711708)

TSA agents have a difficult job as it is. How much harder do Apple fanboys have to make it for them by insisting that their toys are "computers"?

Living up to your name... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711826)

That analogy was as feeble as a lame duck in lime jello!

Is this news? or marketing? (5, Insightful)

Ironclad2 (697456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711730)

Anyone who's ever tried to bring a less-than-common piece of electronics through airport security has probably had them happen to this. I've had TSA agents inquire about my TI-89 on two separate occasions. Is this story really news? or just cleverly embedded marketing?

Re:Is this news? or marketing? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711768)

Yeah, I've been stopped because of my external dvd drive for years.

Re:Is this news? or marketing? (1)

blantonl (784786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712022)

Try running a scanner "radio communications receiver" through TSA. You'd think they'd be all over that sucker, yet it's the antenna that gathers the most attention... it (the Antenna), upon xray, looks sharp and pointy, but when they see it the laugh (it is a "rubber ducky antenna").

What is even more scary is that they flag it intermittently... sometimes they'll go berserk over it, other times it will go right through without a 2nd thought.

I often wonder, looking at the xray tech/guy/woman/thingy what they are thinking about when they look at those xrays.

TSA = Thousands Standing Around

Re:Is this news? or marketing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712020)

Try taking a headphone amplifier on an airplane in your carryon. 9V battery, check. On/Off toggle switch, check. Multiple wires, check. Dention time for you, check...

Re:Is this news? or marketing? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712166)

Anyone who's ever tried to bring a less-than-common piece of electronics through airport security has probably had them happen to this.

I've flown with my Sharp Zaurus C3000 [mobiletechreview.com] several times. Never got a second look at it from security, even though I often draw attention when use it in a bar or cafe.

But the TI-89 looks like it might be a remote control for something, which might warrant attention. (Especially as some remotes work by radio - the remote for my satellite box sends UHF signals, probably a bad thing to have on a plane...)

Sounds like his fault (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711738)

He should've gotten to the airport earlier. It sounds like he was operating on razor-thin margins, and got bit. Tough. Deal with it.

Re:Sounds like his fault (3, Funny)

ters a-zA-Z0-9$_.+!* (1177175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711972)

mod this troll but he was probably a typical "mac" user and was just getting hassled by airport security. 1. Possibly wearing John Lennon glasses 2. Maybe wearing a save padro t shirt or whatever the fuck 3. Answered whats this with "Thats THE Laptop what are you a caveman beige box wielding fuck" and so on until "Travel Companion" stepped in 4. Perhaps wearing sandals well if he had linux on it he probably would have got the cavity search, at least he wouldn't have liked it Christ i have a Compaq evo with no drive and well lots of ports but that thing isn't that small

Re:Sounds like his fault (2, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712116)

If everyone left earlier enough to account for everything, nothing would get done because everyone would be waiting around somewhere else.

Ignore this shitty, fake story (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711752)

Just more viral advertising by Apple Corp.

Like the name? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711834)

The sad thing is, I'm sure that not only are there people who will thing MacBook Air owners have an educational MBA, but there are probably even a few people who will buy them for that reason.

Re:Ignore this shitty, fake story (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712098)

What, so the message is "buy MacBook Air: it'll make you so cool, they'll think you're a terrorist"?

- RG>

Question about missed flight (4, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711770)

Its a real bummer that these TSA guys end up being no better than night club bouncers, but heck I suppose technology is not their forte, which is kind of ironic given they need to understand recognise what's going through the machine.

Anyhow, my question is if you miss a flight because of these TSA guys, does your airline put you on the next available flight at no extra cost?

Re:Question about missed flight (1)

MattHawk (215818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712062)

>> Anyhow, my question is if you miss a flight because of these TSA guys, does your airline put you on the next available flight at no extra cost?

My guess would be, not voluntarily. There's a reason they say to get to the airport a couple of hours early, after all, and he very likely didn't if he was cutting it this close.

No surprise really... (3, Interesting)

Ekhymosis (949557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711772)

Whilst this might be construed as a troll, and my moderation hit might reflect that, you have to think about the people who are hired as airport security. They are not the best or brightest, and seeing the amount of problems that are caused by simple misunderstandings, ignorance, etc. (although many of these problems are the administrations problems NOT the airport security people), this is just another drop in the bucket. Of course, there are exceptions and I have personally met very bright airport security people, but mostly in the international section of the airport.

Re:No surprise really... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711822)

well i work airport security so FUCK YOU!

Re:No surprise really... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711888)

well i work airport security so FUCK YOU!

You fail.

Real airport security wouldn't be that diplomatic.

Re:No surprise really... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711898)

well i work airport security so FUCK YOU!

I was going to ask if you talked to your mother like that, then I realized you must have asked her to type that out for you.

Re:No surprise really... (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711894)

Umm.. they're given a bunch of rules that they have to follow. It's not like they are bomb experts. If they were they would be working a higher paid job. This doesn't mean they are idiots. It doesn't even mean they are ignorant, unless you want to compare them to said bomb experts, in which case every one of us who isn't a bomb expert is ignorant.

One of the rules happens to be: separate laptops from other electronic devices. So what makes it a laptop and what makes it a "dvd player"? The keyboard? You can't see the keyboard until you open it.

Another rule happens to be: don't open electronic devices unless a secondary inspection is warranted.

And there's a bunch of other rules to decided if a secondary inspection is warranted.

They're just trying to do their job. It's a joke what the experts tell them but they are the experts so if you want to blame anyone, blame them.

good logic... (4, Funny)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711820)

Look how small it is, it must be a bomb. I personally would try to make something larger to hold a bomb, but hey thats just me. Steve jobs is the only one trying to make bombs smaller and sexier.

Humm, and I going to go to jail for that last comment, its hard to tell what's a crime any more...

goatse them (3, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711832)

just load up a nice big picture of goatse on your background, or maybe some tubgirl.

if enough people did it TSA agents would quickly lose their taste for looking at our laptops.

on a more serious note, has there ever been a record of someone attempting to sneak a bomb onto a plane via a laptop? no? then pay attention to real dangers pls just for once.

Similar though completely different experience... (2, Interesting)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711838)

One time, when flying from Melbourne to Brisbane, I had two cans of coke wrapped side by side in a tea-towel (to stop condensation from wetting other stuff) in my backpack. In front of the coke was my Nintendo DS's charger, wrapped up neatly. It did look pretty suspicious on the screen, I must admit, but they wouldn't let me go until they'd used what I guess was a portable mass spectrometer to check every inch of clothing and backpack for explosives residue.

Show up on time, dumbass. (5, Insightful)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711860)

Everyone else should read the original blog post, and note that his flight was taking off AS he was talking to customs. Meaning he showed up at or after boarding time. Airlines suggest showing up 1 to 1.5 hours before takeoff, not at the last minute. Furthermore, I call bullshit on this story. I've recently traveled internationally and went through 8 major airports (plus 'random selection' secondary inspection in Philadelphia) throughout the world, with a laptop, Nintendo DS, two Ipod Mini's, and a case of DVD's all stuffed into my laptop bag, while returning from an Islamic nation and nobody asked me to show them anything.

Re:Show up on time, dumbass. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712044)

Hehehe. You claim you've flown recently and carried some electronics, and didn't run into the same idiots, and therefore you "call bullshit" -- apparently claiming that because you took some other flights and didn't see the same idiots, ipso facto, said idiots don't exist.

I think we can safely deduce that although you may indeed have flown recently, you clearly have not taken any basic logic courses recently.

Re:Show up on time, dumbass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712144)

Parent is right. GP would disbelieve in global warming because it's cold outside.

Not always true (5, Interesting)

forand (530402) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712050)

I too have been through countless security check points with enough electronics in my bags to make my back hurt. I have never had a problem with the people at security. However, I travel with a wife and colleagues who are not always so lucky. The difference? I am a white guy and they are not. Sad but true. Next time you are in line watch who is being searched or detained.

Re:Not always true (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712126)

I had a trip to Virginia and back last year. I got flagged for the expanded screening every single time (4/4). And I am a white male.

Reminds me of my RIO PMP300 (1)

weave (48069) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711868)

This story reminds me of a similar hassle with new technology and security lines...

I had a Rio PMP300 MP3 player back in late 90s when no one knew what an mp3 player was. I went into a US Court House for some business and the guard at the metal detector couldn't figure it out. Wanted to know where to stick the tape in. I tried explaining it to him but eventually he just insisted I check it and pick it up on the way out at the end of the day.

Gotta wonder what they did with the thing while I was up in the court office looking through the PACER terminal! :)

Me too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711902)

I have to admit: I am also very suspicious about this MacBook Air... Rumor says, it's using parts Made in Out of America... very suspicious...

meh, sounds a lot like bullshit (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711908)

and attention whoring. i have had notebooks that were smaller, lighter, weirder and probably thinner than the air mac since a few years ago. i have travelled to more than one country with those.

sometimes the security check personnel would be interested by the stuff I carry, but never in the way alledged in the article. even people in quite underdeveloped countries are able to recognize a laptop, and the "revolutionary" air mac isn't that different.

that guy probably just can't get over it.

Re:meh, sounds a lot like bullshit (3, Interesting)

Mox-Dragon (87528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712094)

Yeah, but one of the things that baffled the TSA people was the absence of a platter-based hard drive. When's the last time you travelled around with a laptop that had an SSD? I'm sure "weird" is a very different looking thing for visible light and x-rays.

Re:meh, sounds a lot like bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712160)

When's the last time you travelled around with a laptop that had an SSD?

early last year was a first. noone noticed.

I hate to say it... but they are right (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711930)

One of the less technically knowledgeable staff points out the lack of standard features as cause for alarm..
I'm somewhat technically adept... and I have to say if I did airport security and saw the MacBook without any visitable ports, I would give it a closer look. From what I've read the sucker's few ports tuck away on the side. On X-ray I'd imagine the CPU footprint is 1/4 the size I'd expect. If I was unaware of the model, I would in my mind give it a second look, without a doubt. However after doing the job for a while I imagine I'd give up on trying to do a good one and just do my best to provide the illusion of security just like everyone else.

What I wonder is how customs would deal with it, presuming they wanted to scan the drive for contraband. Popping on a CD would be a pain.

Kind of makes me wonder what would happen if... (4, Insightful)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711932)

What kind of world of hurt would the person in TFA have had to go through if the battery was flat, or the laptop was defective?

You think that's bad... (1)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711938)

I was held up by French airport security in CDG for half an hour because, as it turned out, my car key was rotated in a funny position that made it look like I had an extremely tiny knife in my bag. It took them forever to figure that out - right after the rifled through everything I had and left my suitcase in one big mess.

Yup, a car key. Serious electronic equipment there, I tell you what.

I don't think it's a TSA thing - I think it's a let's-pay-people-$30k-a-year-and-get-them-paranoid thing around the world.

Hello, I'm Alan Funt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22711956)

We thought it would be funny if we sent a Kaypro [obsoleteco...museum.org] through airport security. Let's see what happens...

Best airport security (0, Offtopic)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711964)

The best airport security policy is the cruelest. We will destroy the entire village or sector of the city of anyone who creates a terrorist act on an airplane of our country that causes a loss of live. Then forget about inspecting shoes and laptops and hearing aids and soap bottles, etc...

    When the criminals realize that they will be destroying their city, their mosque, their people, themselves, by convincing young men and women to murder random others in the name of some god, then this nonsense will stop. The first few times that we have to do it, we will get called the greatest mass murderers since the Germans (oh, excuse me, the Nazis) and monsters and all those other things.

    But the rest of the world isn't going to miss the people from the villages and slum sectors of the giant mega-cities from when these criminals come. And they aren't going to miss the holy men who sent them either. Despite all that they say. Yes, the first few times that they call our bluff and blow up an airplane in the name of what passes for a god in their part of the world, and we just nonchalantly nuke their sorry asses and go back to watching the Brittany show, it will be hard.

    But it will pass. And it will come to be seen as simply the way that the world works in the new era where there are billions of surplus people.

    And the terrorism will stop...or just fade away to a few incidents.

    And we won't have to take off our shoes to board an airplane anymore.

    The hardest part of this strategy is learning how to avoid being manipulated into destroying someone by one of their tribal enemies. Say that there are three countries: A, B, C. A and B have huge nuclear arsenals and C has only one little atom bomb, maybe ten kilotons. C also hates B with a passion that is historic and pathological and senseless. If C uses its one bomb on B, it gets one good sneak attack and then gets wiped out by B.

    But if C uses its one bomb on A and convinces A that B did it, then A will completely destroy B and also be wiped out by B. C doesn't care what happens to A. And with both A and B reduced to ashes, C is now the king shit country and the 'peacemaker'.

    But if A and B have a secret agreement that if any bomb goes off in either of their countries, then before they attack each other they are going to first completely destroy C, D, E, and all the other pissant little psychopathic peoples republics, then this plan will keep the peace because D, E, and all the rest will do whatever they can to make sure that C and all the rest of the pissants behave. This means a lot of little wars and assassinations among the pissants, but it is the price paid to avoid nuclear exchanges.

    If we are going to adopt a policy of nuking pissants every time that they blow up an airliner, then we going to both have a lot of secret agreements and be willing to accept a lot of random bloodletting between the pissants.

    But if it keeps the rest of the civilized world safe, well then, fine...just do it.

Maybe (1)

James in NJ (1254232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711968)

I don't know if the story is true or not, but at least part of it rings true for me. I was traveling through Florida a couple years ago and asked the TSA guy if I should take my iPod out of my bag and place it in the bin next to my laptop. "Your what?" he said. "My iPod," I replied holding it up, "you know, an iPod." "Yeah, whatever that is" he laughed as if I was ridiculous for thinking he would know what I was talking about. Ironically, this was the same day that the 4G iPods were announced and Steve Jobs was on the cover of Newsweek (or was it Time?) holding one.

With that thin design... (3, Funny)

iabervon (1971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711982)

People make fun of the TSA for this, but it's only a matter of time before somebody mounts an Air on a pole and starts wielding it as a battle axe.

I think BS.. but who knows. (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711990)

This whole story "could have happened", but really if I put myself in such a scenario.. I can not see it taking more than 10 to 15 min delay tops..

I think he was late for the plane anyway.. Of course in his mind it's someone else's fault.

My Business Card Got Me Through Security (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22711998)

Now, this was a long time ago, so no doubt things are much stricter nowadays.

I was traveling to visit a client, but didn't have a laptop, so I put all my stuff on an external SCSI drive enclosure. To save space and weight, I didn't carry its power cord, figuring the client could lend me one.

When it got X-rayed, they wanted me to power it on for them, so I could prove it wasn't a bomb. But I had no power cord! The guard was quite unfamiliar with SCSI drives.

In the end, he asked me for my business card, and let me pass when I gave it to him.

Idiocracy in action (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712024)

MacBook Air Confuses Airport Security

Which points out nothing other than airport security is easily confused. Although it would make a great Apple ad. MacBook Air: Laptop of Doom!

Sony X505 - Same result with TSA... (2, Interesting)

PCMeister (837482) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712026)

While waiting for a connecting flight several months ago, I heard about a guy getting delayed for about 15 minutes at an airport security checkpoint because of his laptop's "suspicious look" on the x-ray machine. It turned to be a Sony X505 laptop. For those not familiar with the X505, this [digitaltrends.com] review by Digital Trends mentioned in this [slashdot.org] /. article back in 2004 details the specs.

What was so suspicious about it? I was told that someone overheard a TSA agent mention that it looked transparent on the x-ray machine. It seems that this was the case with the AirBook.

Perhaps companies like Sony and Apple that develop such advanced portables should notify TSA officials so they could, inturn, teach the line agents to not become alarmed when encountering such a device passing through the x-ray machine? Since that would make too much sense, it probably won't happen. Go figure.

If you happen to own an AirBook or other sub-notebook, good luck!!

Five Finger Shoes (5, Funny)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712060)

One morning the fate of the free world depended on my screener's determination on if a pair of Vibram Five Fingers [vibramfivefingers.com] was a shoe or not. Never mind that I own bulkier socks than this, but apparently it's a shoe.

Dumbas numbnuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22712074)

In spite of this it is still a bad idea to ask the "security personel", "Hey, are you guys a bunch of dumbass numbnuts, or what?" unless you enjoy them knowing if you have skid marks or not.

Mac Users are Terrorists (1)

Abuzar (732558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712092)

See... I always knew Mac users were computer terrorists. Just y'all wait, artists schmartists whateva, we got some water-boarding for all ya metro-sexual weed smoking commie asses.

Ok, seriously though, not knowing what a Macbook looks like is really retarded. Can anyone tell me what the hell is going on in the states? Do you guys even go to schools? or grow up inside mine shafts? I mean, geez, if you're checking baggage all day, everyday at an airport, how can you possibly not run into a Macbook at least a few times each week?

TSA Agents are techie wannabes (1)

Beltonius (960316) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712132)

For winter break I brought my desktop [hardocp.com] home via my flight. Needless to say, they were very suspicious that I was bringing both a laptop and a desktop home (I know, how dare I?)!

On the trip home, they were frustrated that the metal case seemed to be blocking their x-rays and started swabbing it for explosives (instead of asking me if it could be opened up or anything) and the tests kept coming up positive! I was terrified they were going to blow up my computer. They kept asking if it was a "real computer", as though my Thinkpad isn't a real computer.

Then on the way back to school they made a much smaller fuss (I took it out of the duffel bag before running it through the scanner this time) though they still took it aside to look at it. However, this time the guy was grilling me on the manufacturer (Shuttle) and specs (Wow, 6 USB ports and surround sound? Geepers!) It was more amusing than anything else as luckily I always leave myself plenty of time to get through security.

...and then they paged someone over the PA system to come back to the security checkpoint to claim a purple dime-a-dozen, dentist-give-a-way toothbrush. Half the TSA agents looked very serious when the announcement was made, and the rest were laughing.
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