It looks like this Thanksgiving holiday travel season turned into a tempest in a pie crust. Our good friend Mark over at Upgrade Travel Better made us aware of an incident that happened at Cleveland International Airport. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that while travel out of Hopkins went reasonably well, TSA had to confiscate about a dozen baked pies that passengers were trying to pass through security. But TSA in Charlotte had no problem letting travelers through with their holiday pies.
Of course, this peaked my interest, because at a press conference Nov. 16 in D.C. with TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, (I posted about the press conference here and here) a question actually came up about whether passengers could carry pies. We all had a good laugh, but Hawley did say that pies could -- COULD -- be carried past security. He said that his definition of a liquid is what would happen if he put a questioned substance on a table. If it holds its shape, then it's not a liquid, he said. So pie would not be considered a liquid, he added.
OK, but I guess they forgot to tell the TSA screeners in Cleveland. Mark made this point in his post, and it's worth repeating -- the inconsistency of enforcement of TSA regulations airport to airport is maddening. I remember that long after TSA said we didn't have to take off our shoes anymore (pre-Aug. 19), I would go crazy arguing with TSA screeners about not having to remove my shoes. It got to the point where I traveled with a print-out from TSA's web site over the shoe policy. Actually, I carry several pages from the TSA web site on what is and isn't allowed now because of the continued inconsistency.
And what happened to those pies in Cleveland? They went to the USO Lounge, which provides a rest place for service men and women. So let me get this straight -- the pies in Cleveland were considered potentially dangerous and therefore illegal to take on a flight, but they were good enough to serve to our troops?
And that leads to a bigger question - why, after five years in business, do we still have these inconsistent policies at our nation's airports? Doesn't TSA have some sort of system to inform their Federal Security Directors, who in turn can pass it along to the screeners?