Beauty is My Weapon

15th August 2006


The Weapons of Terror

Originally uploaded by MaggieMason.

We arrived at the airport ready to fly into New York, and there was a news crew in the lobby. This makes me nervous, I said. Bryan said news crews always broadcast from the airport. Really, I said. Sure, he said, they’re always here. Why, I asked. Because it’s a place where they can always broadcast live if they want to. I raised a single eyebrow at him. His look suggested he learned this information from an authoritative guide entitled Preferred Habitats of Local News Teams. In actuality a bunch of guys had just been arrested in London for plotting to blow up planes. Of course, we didn’t discover this until we were in the security line.

In the best of circumstances, airport security teams see me through a different lens. To them, I appear to have sharp objects taped in concealed places, and a mouth ringed with the gunpowder I’ve been eating for breakfast. Accordingly, they searched my bag and confiscated everything in it. Well, almost everything.

They took my Revlon Lipglide in Sparkling Sangria, they ignored my metal nail file. They confiscated my Origins Pinch Your Cheeks tint, but bypassed the box of matches. They pulled my Aveeno Sunblock Spray, but left my razor-sharp cuticle scissors.

With each item they took, my mental calculator added another $20-$30 to my cumulative agony. By the time they were finished, they’d yoinked about $150 worth of cosmetics. I was surprised to find that I actually wanted to cry in frustration.

I told the security guard that he was nearly doubling the cost of my ticket, and asked if there was some way to ship this stuff. You can, he said, but it’s $9 an item. Bryan finally just went back to the front counter and checked my box of toiletries. Of course, when we got to the gate, they made us check our bags anyway.

The upside is, our plane totally did not blow up en route to New York. So it was a good trip.

234 thoughts on “Beauty is My Weapon

  1. Joe

    I flew this past Thursday evening and found it interesting that I could not bring certain items but once I passed through security I could purchase these same items inside the terminal. We had heard of the National Guard checking people before boarding the plane but saw nothing of the sort in both San Jose or Newark.

  2. shy me

    Some of us were just discussing last night if we think the “liquidy type things are evil” is going to be permanent or not.

    My possible solution was that no one’s allowed to have luggage at all and you have to buy entirely new wardrobes on the other end.

    Oh, and everyone’s really rich too. Or, at least, I am!

  3. Lindsay

    If it weren’t so amazingly stupid and annoying and excessive (and, and, and…) I could ALMOST see their point.

    I mean, at this point in time, it’s ridiculous to think that someone with scissors or a small knife is going to be able to take down a plane (they only did “that one time” because we’d all been conditioned to think that taking a plane hostage meant they were just going to inconvenience people by making the plane land somewhere else). If all you’ve got is a knife today (even if it’s a BIG knife), there’s no way in hell you’re taking over the plane. It’s not the same deal with explosives.

    But seriously, banning liquids and gels? It’s just so amazingly ridiculous it sounds made up.

  4. jason

    Is a barter-based chain of curbside “stores” creepy and unhygenic? Ya know…you forget to take out your sunscreen prior to take off, so you leave it in San Francisco. When you get to New York, you’re free to take a similar sunscreen that a fellow traveler left behind?

    Kind of a bummer this is all going in the trash, is all. Wasteful and expensive.

    Gross, right?

  5. Arianne

    What a pain, but I guess from now on we make sure to check all our goodies? Thanks for the flicker play-by-play, because I was wondering how this ban was affecting people.

    To the other commenter…its not ridiculous to ban liquids and gels on the plane when the terrorists in London were planning on using LIQUIDS AND GELS to blow up planes heading to New York. “That one time” was kinda important, you see….a benchmark of sorts. And it would be nice if we didn’t lose plane-loads of people just because you don’t want to check your bags.

    P.S. apologies for making my first comment on your blog snarky, i guess i’m jaded ever since “that one time”.

  6. April

    Don’t I have enough to worry about without having to step off the plane with dark circles under my eyes and no concealer to hide them?

  7. soitis

    If I felt any safer, I’d be all for the ban. Taking away my lipgloss is not going to make anyone safer. Investing in the proper machinery, having decent intelligence systems in place, instituting proper job training and decent wages, well, for starters, those things might make a difference. In the meantime, I can’t carry contact lens solution or eye drops, which I need on hand for my hard contacts that cost $120 a piece and are a pain when flying (and I can’t wear glasses because I cannot see with glasses, these are special contact lenses for a medical condition). I’m flying a lot next month. I’ll be the one squinting, accidentally at the wrong gate, dehydrated, and with all her makeup worn off. It may all sound like a stupid rant, but like I said, if any of this made me actually SAFER, I wouldn’t bitch and moan so much.

  8. Lindsay

    Ah, but Arianne, you’ve missed my point (not your fault, by the way, I have a tendancy to expect people to know EXACTLY how I’m thinking about things — this explains why I’m not a writer. heh.).

    In any case though, it absolutely IS ridiculous to put a ban on liquids and gels. If it was actually possible to do it completely, that would be one thing (and would technically make more sense than banning scissors, which is what I was trying to get at). But it’s not. I could put my stash of eyedrops in my pants pocket, not mention it, perhaps lie about it if asked, and they’d never know. Same thing could happen with liquids a lot more dangerous than saline solution. We don’t really have a “liquid detector” at the airport. The way it’s being done now is just reactionary and not thought out.

  9. StampyDurst

    This post reminded me of a comedy sketch a few years ago about manicure scissors (Chris Rock? I think so…)

    “Back off or the bitch loses a cuticle!”

    Sorry for your cosmetic losses. They didn’t take your fabulous Sephora lip gloss that tasted like Pina Coladas, did they? Please say no. Oh, the humanity!

  10. Arianne

    Lindsay, I getcha now! I was focusing in on a different point…

    I hope soitis (above) sees your sneaky plan.

  11. Pete's Sake

    Of course your plane wasn’t going to blow up. As a nation we need to get a collective grip on how probable meeting a fiery death in the sky is (close to zero, in case you were wondering), and stop letting our government let the terrorists win (by inciting terror and causing tremendous monetary loss through hare-brained policy).

  12. marisa

    if someone was really sick in the head
    they could use a tampon as a weapon….
    ha ha ha

    thank god your husband checked the makeup as luggage. I too am in love with my makeup!

  13. sardogwill

    Obviously, next month we’ll all be flying au natural, after first throwing away the entire contents of our carryons and then submitting to a body cavity search.

    Flying the friendly skies will take on a whole new set of connotations.

    Gah. We were just flying, too and it’s gotten pretty ridiculous. After we checked my son’s entire bag of legos and transformers It occurred to me that, given the proper motiviation, I could geek them out into auto-assemblers.

    They could just roam the belly of the plane, scabbing checked electronics together until they evolved a real weapon of mass destruction. Like something that’s more addictive than an Xbox, but smaller than your iPod.

  14. alison

    Oh my god, it is so nice to hear that someone else went through exactly what I did, and was almost brought to tears. I came home from Barcelona this past SAturday. In Spain they told me to “check my liquids”, which I did. I was kinda bummed that I could’t brush my teeth in the next 12 hours, but whatever. I did manage to get my saline eye drops past them, and they TOLD me that I could go ahead and hold on to my lighter and my matches. Then I had to change planes in Frankfurt. They took my saline, they dumped all my lipsticks out into the trash, and left only 1 powder in my make-up bag. I wasn’t even given the option of checking the stuff-and I wouldn’t have had time to anyways. In the future forget flying with contacts, clean teeth, soft skin or unchapped lips. The trip was well worth it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a huge annoyance.

  15. greta

    not that this makes the whole thing any more sensible, but i looked at the list of banned items on the TSA’s website… The items they left in your bag (cuticle scissors, file, safety matches) are allowable as carry-ons. (Lighters and strike-anywhere matches are banned.) So, it sounds like they did pull things according to the list. (See for yourself, http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm)

    Of course, a nail file or matches sound much more dangerous to me than deodorant!

  16. Jessey

    Lemme get this straight…
    Sharp, pointed metal implement – A-OK
    Dove deodorant – No go.

    Pretty soon they’ll just come through the check-in line, hogtie everyone and gently lift you into your seat on the plane.
    That’s when we’ll know that the terrorists really HAVE won.

  17. Tara

    I flew to the us from paris a week ago, and they confiscated a box of tampons. what did they think, i was going to go up to the pilot and say step away from the wheel, ive got a tampon and i not afraid to use. 4godssake!

  18. Wynne

    A team of terrorists with nail files couldn’t take over and crash a whole plane now; the passengers would stop it. I’d rather TSA keep potential explosives off the plane. The liquid/gel thing is not a one-off incident, it’s a real threat that terrorists have been working with for years (Ramzi Yousef tested it out in the Pacific before, not successfully then.)

    TSA’s budget is limited by Congress. They don’t have enough money to put EDS and puffer machines in all the airports now (automated explosive detectors). But if anyone wants to write Congress?

    Screeners are humans and will make mistakes sometimes regarding what’s on the banned list. (Tampons?!) But for the most part the ones I met were trying hard to do an important but incredibly tedious and difficult job.

    The people who were flying on Ban Day 1 got a rough deal. The rest of us didn’t; we can plan in advance for the new rules.

  19. kristen

    I’ve lurked here forever (seriously) but wanted to thank you for the savings I will receive by checking the makeup bag I keep in my purse when we fly this Saturday.

  20. Nataline

    Yup, we were the second flight out of Boston that Thursday. Unfortunately for me, because it was so darned early (4am), we checked our bags at Skycap before learning of the new restrictions. I had to toss $60 worth of brand spanking new lotions and soaps from Lush!

    Here’s the scary part: Upon arriving in San Diego (exactly 24hrs later) I found a small shampoo from a hotel that I had tossed into my carry-on and forgotten about. How did two x-ray machines and no less than THREE bag checks fail to catch the cheap stuff??

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