Fragrance in the Skies

People often call my show to share personal stories whenever the topic of airline security comes up. Apparently people can still board planes with any number of questionable items. I now have my own story to share.

I recently got stopped at the security area at New York's JFK Airport. My laptop bag was searched quite carefully and the inspection turned up a virtually brand new bottle of cologne which will remain nameless--Obsession Night by Calvin Klein. The TSA employee explained to me how the bottle exceeded the maximum ounces of liquid currently allowed aboard aircraft. I sighed and told him the reason it was on my carry-on was because I found the bottle at the last minute as I scanned my hotel room for things I had missed. My check-in luggage had already been loaded up and moved out of the hotel room. So I stuck it in my laptop bag and forgot about it. I laid it on thick; I explained that my sweetie had just given it to me as a special gift and that it would break our hearts if I had to leave it behind.

He felt compassion for me and approached his superior for advice. The man looked me over and began scraping the label on the bottom of the bottle which indicated how many ounces the bottle contained. He then looked up at me and said something like "Looks like the legal amount to me". He did everything but wink and nod. It was just like in those old gangster movies.

I feel somewhat guilty about the whining that led to my being allowed to essentially bring contraband onboard a cross-country flight. In hindsight, I think that the TSA employees did the wrong thing.

What if I HAD been a terrorist? What if that liquid, when mixed with other components onboard, had brought the plane down? What if it was pepper spray and I was going to blind the flight crew with it and take over the plane? What if their permissiveness had led to hundreds of people dying?

There was at one point a safety guideline that allowed airport security staff to require passengers drink from their containers to prove the contents were safe. That policy was changed in 2002. We have heard about mothers being hassled for bottled breast milk. At least one mother (a Dallas attorney in 2002) has been asked to drink her stored breast milk for as a precautionary measure. So why did this short, bald guy get through security with a bottle of Obsession? Why didn't they even ask me to spray some on myself to prove the contents really were made by Calvin Klein? What if, God forbid, my intentions were bad and those employees had blown it by giving me a pass?

Next time I will pack such items in my check-in luggage. Next time I won't be selfish and plead for mercy. And next time, hopefully, more emphasis will be put on the well being of hundreds than on the convenience of one person. Even when that person is me.

You should try the fragrance, though. It's really nice. Just not at 35,000 feet.