By JENEE FOWLER
In short, TSA has installed new detectors that pick up vapor very accurately, but still fail to screen for basic weapons effectively.
Why else would I know this unless I’d tried it? I guess I have some ‘splaining to do…
I took two trips back-to-back recently.
The first was to respect my best friends wishes. I accompanied his family to Manhattan for a day to scatter his ashes off of Chelsea Pier (there are many reasons no one should swim in the Hudson).
…continued from above
The second was a mid-winter get away that my boyfriend and I had been planning for months. We were going to Jamaica to get way off the grid for a week.
We decided to shorten the second trip after my friend’s sudden heart attack, but not to cancel it. I figured I could cry on a beach just as easily as I could cry on my couch…
I fly prepared and I always travel in joggers, slip ons and with my backpack as a carry on. I do this so I can move through security more quickly.
I was uncharacteristically late getting to the airport in Chicago and cleared security on time only because of the nature of my flight.
Midair I got up to use the bathroom (diabetes incipidus, look it up before you make fun of me) and brought my Hexohm along with me. It’s nearly always in my front pocket when I’m not using it and this trip was no exception.
While stabilizing to avoid any and all contact with the seat, aka hovering, I made a grave error. For just a moment my mod became wedged between my leg and the cramped wall.
I heard the distinctive crackling of my atomizer and I instantly grabbed it out of my pocket (with the clean hand!) and blew into the chamber. I generally do this to avoid nasty burnt taste, and didn’t think much of it in the moment.
I have vaped in airplane bathrooms (and other places) I wasn’t allowed before without getting caught so long as I was careful. When the alarm went off I knew no one would believe that this time I really wasn’t. (I guess I deserve that).
I washed my hands (both, just in case) as quickly as possible and opened the sliding door. I was greeted with a worried flight attendant who rushed in to investigate.
I am sure I looked confused and alarmed, because I was. Never before had a single puff carried the power to set off any alarms. Things had changed.
I looked like a deer in the headlights as I scuttled back to my seat. (Dear-crab?).
They weren’t able to find the cause of the alarm because it had only been a tiny amount of vapor released. The bathroom was unscathed aside from a pleasant strawberry scent, but that didn’t stop them from pulling me aside at the gate.
Co-Pilot: “Excuse me, can you step over here for a moment”
Me: Steps aside.
Co-Pilot: “You do know that vaping on an aircraft is against federal regulations?”
Me: Vacant nod (it was a rough week).
Co-Pilot: “Do you know that anyone caught is subject to arrest and fines?”
Me: More vacant nodding.
Deciding I’d been warned thoroughly enough, the Co-Pilot released me into the city to take care of the business at hand.
It wasn’t until my return trip that I discovered just how many feathers one puff could ruffle.
While waiting to board for our return flight I noticed a name being called over the intercom. It was similar enough to mine that I thought I should investigate.
Jenette Flower was in trouble…
After deciding I was the correct “Jenette Flower” (or however they butchered my entire name for the millionth time) I was escorted into a private room.
It was just me and one overweight man in a suit who seemed pretty upset. He had some files sitting on his desk for effect.
Overweight-Man: “Did you know that using electronic cigarettes on an aircraft is breaking federal law?”
Me: “Yes, that’s why I’ve disassembled it in my carry-on.”
I then opened my backpack to reveal batteries, mod, and atomizer in three distinct pieces.
Overweight-Man: “There could have and should have been a Federal Air Marshal waiting for you when you landed in NYC. If we could have proved you were using that device in the bathroom you would be facing serious fines and probably be on a no-fly list for some time to come.”
Me: “Right. It’s very serious. I didn’t want any confusion.”
I motioned to my bag again, where the disassembled pieces were. Some of the wind was clearly out of his sails, and he let me go.
After I got home I started unpacking and repacking for Jamaica. I found something that two rounds with the TSA and a little extra scrutiny in the back room didn’t:
I had flown from Chicago to Manhattan and back with police grade mace in my carry on.
The next day I was set to leave and fortunately, the TSA took no perceivable interest in my trip to Jamaica.
Our accommodations were so remote they could literally be accessed by a goat trail but, we still found ourselves in the company of vapers.
It could have been the salt water or the irie vibes, but I came back with a little better perspective and a lot more chill.
I understand more clearly than ever that the TSA is an organization that acts as a front to pacify the American audience. They are not there to prevent acts of terror- to date they have yet to stop a single act of terror or capture any terrorists. They simply help ignorant people feel safer, despite doing nothing to add to any actual safety.
In fact, with all the added “security” many Americans have faced profiling and harassment when simply trying to travel. Especially considering that they use a made up point system, according to businesinsider.com, called SPOT to pull passengers out of line for doing things like “yawing too much” or “blankly staring”. Things very uncommon to travelers…
According to CNN “Transportation Security Administration missed a whopping 95 percent of guns and bombs in recent airport security “red team” tests.” Seven billion US taxpayer dollars have gone to this program so far, and for what?
Maybe forcing higher taxes on products like e-liquid will help pay for the next $7 billion they need to flush down those little airplane toilets.
It leads one to wonder who’s terrorizing whom.
No wonder I carry mace.