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TSA May Recommend Stowing Laptops In Cargo For US Domestic Flights (cbslocal.com) 456

Matt.Battey writes: According to WJZ in Baltimore, the TSA may force passengers to check laptops on domestic U.S. flights. Based on the common fear, uncertainty and doubt that supports the TSA's security theater, the terror attacks in Great Britain could result in laptop bans in the U.S. TSA officer Camille Morris is quoted as saying, "A AA battery is fine. A AAA. A 9-volt battery is a huge power charge. The size of the battery that can take down a plane when attached to an explosive." Backed up by comments from Ben Yelin of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, his statement confirms the problem: "Airplanes have been the common threat that we've seen over the past several years." Personally, I'm just glad we have the TSA to recommend we "arrive two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before an international trip."
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TSA May Recommend Stowing Laptops In Cargo For US Domestic Flights

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  • Insurance (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:04PM (#54572065)

    I assume the TSA will now be assuming liability for every laptop now put into checked luggage.

    I wonder how my employment contract will now stand up, where it reads that laptops must not be checked but carried into the cabin.

    • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:05PM (#54572075)

      You should probably ask HR directly about that last part, linking to this article. Cover it as wanting to give them a heads up. It would be very interesting to hear what they say.

      • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Informative)

        by MangoCats ( 2757129 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @11:03PM (#54574111)

        In cases where company policy contradicts local laws, local laws prevail.

        • Alarmist bullshit from the TSA and the University of Maryland prevails. How many airliners have blown up this year? Your chance of dying on an airplane from a bomb can go up several orders of magnitude and air travel still wouldn't hit the list of shit you should worry about.

          • Re: Insurance (Score:4, Insightful)

            by thsths ( 31372 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @03:20AM (#54574945)

            Which is true. You are much more likely to be killed on the way to or from the airport than in the air. But those are individual cases, and nobody cares about those.

            • Re: Insurance (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @09:17AM (#54576067) Homepage

              I saw this image online recently: https://i.redd.it/pcolaqktpx1z.jpg

              It shows in a nice, graphical format, just how many people die from various causes. Heart disease and cancer are huge circles. Terrorism is a tiny dot. Yet, politicians (and security theater agencies like the TSA) act like we should be living each moment of our lives in fear that a terrorist will kill us. If we did, then we should be paralyzed with terror over heart disease and cancer so much that we give ourselves a heart attack.

          • Re: Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

            by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @09:10AM (#54576017)
            So you can't take a laptop into the passenger cabin because of "bomb risk", but it's ok to put that same laptop in the cargo hold where an explosion could still take down the aircraft? Or is there some other risk here, like the NSA/CIA needs time alone with your laptop unobserved?
            • My understanding from minimally following this, is that they're concerned about the explosive being held up against the wall of the plane, where an explosion could damage the structure. In the center of the cabin, the amount of explosive you could fit in a laptop wouldn't be so dangerous. So if your bombtop is checked, you don't know if setting it off would damage the plane, and odds are low of anything catastrophic happening.

              That's the thinking, anyway. Although setting off any kind of explosive in a cr

    • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:10PM (#54572117)

      I assume the TSA will now be assuming liability for every laptop now put into checked luggage.

      No, but the airline will, up to the limits specified in the contract.. Which amounts to barely enough to pay for the luggage required to pack the laptop in.

    • Re:Insurance (Score:4, Informative)

      by imidan ( 559239 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:51PM (#54572489)

      They absolutely can't impose this rule and maintain the current rate of pilfering valuables from checked luggage by TSA and baggage handlers. I learned long ago not to pack anything worth stealing in a suitcase that I'm going to check. In fact, last time I flew with my girlfriend, she didn't know about the level of theft and packed some jewelry in her checked bag. This was a totally domestic itinerary. The bag that contained all of her jewelry disappeared from her luggage. Happily, it was all relatively cheap stuff, so it wasn't a huge loss, but it's sad to me that I thought not packing valuables in checked bags was just common knowledge and didn't think to mention it to her.

      I absolutely would not check my own laptop. Or, for that matter, anything else that I value that some TSA loser might want to pawn.

      • That's the point. With GoGoInFlight, everyone is taking their valuable iPads and laptops into the cabin, reducing the poor baggage handlers and TSA agents opportunity to help themselves to it.

        It's pretty sad, kind of like watching polar bears struggle to catch seals on shrinking ice platforms. Think of this law as the Paris Accord for TSA agents... poor little guys.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me@brandySTRAWwi ... .org minus berry> on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @07:09PM (#54572635) Journal

      I'm just excited that lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold are safe now. Otherwise I'd be worried.

      • I'm just excited that lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold are safe now. Otherwise I'd be worried.

        The lithium-ion batteries will even have each other for company so they don't get lonely, likely as it is they'll all be placed in one container, so they can...share their feelings...feelings...of impending doom...doom...at 37,000 feet...[cough]...umm, yeah.

        Don't worry! Be happy! [whistles]

        Strat

      • Random lithium ion batteries, all in varying condition and all packed randomly with other materials.

    • TSA can just ban laptops on planes, period. Then you can ship your laptop via Fedex Ground every time you want to go somewhere.
  • by Patent Lover ( 779809 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:05PM (#54572069)
    They have seen the enemy, and it is us.
    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @07:28PM (#54572777)
      ...and "we're" idiots:

      A AA battery is fine. A AAA. A 9-volt battery is a huge power charge. The size of the battery that can take down a plane when attached to an explosive.

      Uh, no. The energy storage [sciencing.com] for an alkaline AA cell is about 4.2 watt-hours. For a 9V battery, it's about 5.49. That is not a "huge" difference, and definitely not enough that one could rely on the difference constituting a go/no-go for a detonator. A D cell - that would make a difference. And, most devices which use AAs use multiples, 2 or 4 is common. It's pretty uncommon to find a device which takes more than a single 9V battery. Beyond which, the whole comment seems a non-sequitur. How many laptops/pads use AA or 9V batteries?

      And that's the caliber of people who claim to be protecting us, and that's giving a benefit-of-doubt that they were somewhat misquoted and can actually construct complete sentences.

      • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @08:28PM (#54573247) Journal
        I think you are missing the point here. Taking the statement completely at face value the argument seems to be that they want to ban batteries which have enough charge to detonate an explosive. If a terrorist has a battery and some explosives on a plane the problem is NOT that they have a bloody battery!
  • What's a Laptop? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:06PM (#54572079)

    - classic 'Laptop' only?
    - Tablet ?
    - 14" Tablet with Keyboard?
    - Surface tablet without Keyboard?
    - Bluetooth Keyboard with Smartphone?
    - Desktop Mini-Tower with Smartwatch as Display ;-) ?

    • Presumably it will start with the classic laptop and then they will gradually close the edge case loopholes you mention so that everyone will be bored on flights just like before we had portable computing devices. The goal of the TSA is not only security theatrics but to increase human misery and suffering and discomfort in any and every way they can.

      • by DaHat ( 247651 )

        The goal of the TSA is not only security theatrics but to increase human misery and suffering and discomfort in any and every way they can.

        Completely agree, doubly so as since the first talk of a laptop ban for certain international flights I kept thinking that you could easily detect bomb components in a laptop using much of the existing mechanisms.

        At least in the states, we are required to put the laptop in it's own tray which gives them a nice view of the internals. While there is an obscene # of individ

    • Anything that keeps you from buying the in-flight entertainment, I'd say.

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      The previous ban for laptops from certain countries was worded as any electronic device larger than a certain dimension (which basically meany anything larger than a Samsung Galaxy Note series device). So yes, tablets were included. both with and without keyboards, and sold by Microsoft or not. As was technically the bluetooth keyboard (but not likely the smartphone unless you use something like the Samsung Galaxy Mega) and the Desktop Mini-Tower, but not the smartwatch.

      I can't see why they'd word a new one

  • Vague threats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kqs ( 1038910 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:06PM (#54572087)

    When the going gets tough, the tough create vague terrorist threats. Does locking up our laptops make us great again?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, and not one single thing the TSA does is making us great or safe either. The TSA has caught a sum total of ZERO people intending to do harm to anyone and they will never catch someone either.

      The TSA servers no other purpose than to employee otherwise unemployable people. Meaning they have created jobs for those who couldn't get a job in most other places and have inconvenienced 100s of millions of people and have done nothing else.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Etcetera ( 14711 )

      Not so vague:

      The security source said both bans were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors.

      One of those, according to the source, was the discovery of a plot to bring down a plane with explosives hidden in a fake iPad that appeared as good as the real thing. Other details of the plot, such as the date, the country involved and the group behind it, remain secret.

      Discovery of the plot confirmed the fears of the intelligence agencies that Islamist groups had found a novel w

      • Re:Vague threats (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kqs ( 1038910 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @08:07PM (#54573079)

        Not so vague:

        The security source said both bans were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors.

        "Combination of factors"... that's kinda the definition of vague.

        But you seem to think that I said there was no risk. Please don't build strawmen. Of course you can put a bomb in a laptop. So we'll take away laptops, and someone will put a bomb in a camera. So we'll take those away, and so on, and eventually we'll all be flying naked and the terrorists will surgically implant bombs inside their bodies.

        WE ARE NOT SAFE. WE CANNOT BE SAFE. EVER. A terrorist could blow me up on a plane, or (more likely) a car could splatter me against a building, or I could have a massive stroke tomorrow. A terrorist could be driving that car, but probably not; I'm betting that far more people were killed by non-terrorists in cars this year in the UK than by terrorists. Life is unsafe, and you have a 100% chance of dying.

        BUT THAT IS NOT WORTH GIVING UP OUR FREEDOMS.

        I'm willing to trade a little bit of freedom for effective security; that's the definition of civilization, after all. But the TSA is not effective, and a laptop ban is not effective. So, no.

  • Le sigh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:07PM (#54572095)

    AA battery - fine
    AAA battery - ok
    9V battery - Danger Will Robinson!

    Please tell me that SOMEONE in that department is aware that a 9V battery is simply 6 AAAA batteries in a fancy wrapper...

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Not all 9V batteries are that construction, but that's not the real issue, is it?

      The Estes model rocket launcher controller that I used as a kid only required a pair of Double-A batteries (sorry, "AA Battery" means something entirely different) in order to set off the chain-reaction needed to set off a rocket motor. The actual process that ignited the motor was passing current through a wire that was intentionally too thin to carry that current without generating heat, and the heat is what set off the engi

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Sorry, but "AA battery" is how we commonly write it.

        If you want to be pedantic and avoid ambiguation with war machines, then the correct nomenclature would be "AA cell", as a single cell cannot form a battery.

        If you really, really want to be an ass, then call it an IEC LR6 or an ANSI 15A.

        But spelling out like double-A? So the series goes:

        A
        Double-A
        AAA
        AAAA

        ?

        No. Get out. And then get the fuck off of my lawn.

      • by c ( 8461 )

        The actual process that ignited the motor was passing current through a wire that was intentionally too thin to carry that current without generating heat, and the heat is what set off the engine.

        When I was young, we could reliably detonate pipe bombs by triggering a camera flash through a 1/8W resistor.

        If you've got a large capacitor and a power source, the size of the battery doesn't matter too much...

    • Re: Le sigh (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A disposable camera flash uses a single AA battery to generate a 300V charge.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:09PM (#54572099)

    So... The bomb goes off in the hold and starts a fire? Jets don't usually recover from that... At least up top, you might confine the damage to a hole next to whoever has the laptop bomb (Egypt Air...)

    • by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:15PM (#54572161)
      Not only that - they just got through telling people that they didn't want people checking lithium batteries, because of the risk of a garden variety battery fire. Now they are thinking of *requiring* these things to be checked because of some unspecified threat.
    • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

      So... The bomb goes off in the hold and starts a fire? Jets don't usually recover from that... At least up top, you might confine the damage to a hole next to whoever has the laptop bomb (Egypt Air...)

      Jets possibly can recover from that, depending on placement and how reinforced the baggage hold is.

      Jets can't recover from sudden depressurization via gaping hole in the cabin. The only reason the Daallo Airlines flight in Somalia wasn't worse was because the bomb next to the window went off before they had reached cruising altitude and the cabin was pressurized.

      • by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @08:48PM (#54573379) Homepage Journal

        Jets can't recover from sudden depressurization via gaping hole in the cabin

        Jets certainly can, because it's happened a few times in the past - most notably that Hawaii Airlines [wikipedia.org] one where a stewardess got sucked out. Flight crew have "proper" emergency oxygen masks and are trained in their use. Passengers, if they're strapped in, well they tend to black out in about 30 seconds at 30,000+ feet, and you won't be at that altitude for long, because the pilot be descending at 10,000+ feet per minute, pronto.

        Down there in the cargo bay however you have a lot of vital aircraft components going past - power and hydraulics, the avionics bay, centrally mounted fuel tanks, etc. If I had a choice between blowing out a door in flight (for example) or blowing a door-sized hole down below, I'd pick the hole in the passenger cabin every time.

  • At least if I needed a new laptop and didn't give a fuck whether you accuse me of stealing it because I know that even if true you can't do jack shit about it.

  • "TSA Go away" while we wait in their lines.

    Also, let's keep inventing new ways to take down airplanes and making YouTube how-to's about them until the TSA bans phones and clothes, and people finally start to get annoyed.
  • I hope they're assuming liability for stuff that goes missing then. I don't put anything valuable in checked luggage anymore after getting shit stolen out of it years ago.
  • How many people will protest this by cutting out trips by plane? There are people who "have to" fly, but the vast majority of people who say they "have to" actually don't. The only way any of this changes is when the airlines start putting pressure on the government.

    Vacation locally, work remotely, drive where you need to go. As long as you keep buying those tickets, none of this will change.

    • If the airlines provided special treatment for laptops with protective cases separately from the regular bags and ID checking before giving it back to the passengers, I'd be OK with it. My concern is only that it would get lost or stolen. I would even accept having to pay a small fee for this laptop cargo care (though not $100).

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      How many people will protest this by cutting out trips by plane?

      If this happens, I'm done flying. It's borderline now, and this BS would cross the line.

    • How many people will protest this by cutting out trips by plane?

      I haven't flown out of the US since they put in body scanners. Yeah, it's cost me opportunities, but just because the country is full of unprincipled cowards doesn't mean we all have to be.

      If people stop flying because of laptops, it's not going to be from courage, it's going to be out of inconvenience.

      Anyway, wasn't TSA supposedly justified because "airplanes aren't blown up anymore, they're used as missiles?" Are we back to airplanes not b

  • by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:16PM (#54572187)
    If you could gate check the laptop bag, you would minimize the potential for mischief, and also make it possible to do something useful while waiting for the flight to take off.
    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      If you can gate-check it then you've already brought it through security, and could likely smuggle it onboard without checking it.

  • by mishehu ( 712452 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:19PM (#54572215)
    As soon as somebody tries to cut off the blood money that TSA gets, the TSA starts shrieking about every shadow out there. Seriously, wtf is the connection between what happened in London and what you're allowed to bring into the cabin of an airplane? And what the f'ing f, a 9V battery is somehow worse than 6 AA batteries???? If they try to enact this, I hope they get run out of the airports and told to stick it where the sun don't shine.
  • by Guillermito ( 187510 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:20PM (#54572219) Homepage
    What's the idea here? If terrorists can disguise a bomb as a laptop, is it any safer if the explosion occurs in the plane cargo compartment? Would a timer trigger be easier to spot using x-rays, as opposed to a manual trigger? They plan to fly the luggage in a separate plane without passengers?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The threat considered is shaped charges that a terrorist could hold against the inside cabin surface to create a hole in the fuselage. If the terrorist cannot predict where and how the explosive will be positioned, the amount of explosive (given those they can acquire/make) would have to be increased to achieve the same damage, probably beyond the available space in the laptop.

  • "The size of the battery that can take down a plane when attached to an explosive."

    I image a AAA battery running a timer could set off a well designed nuclear device - In fact a watch battery could too, maybe even a windup Mickey Clock!

    BAN THEM ALLLLLLLL

  • seriously? ugg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:23PM (#54572247)

    and everyone with a brain who read this says to themselves "I'm now officially more concerned about the TSA than any terrorist organization on earth".

    • As I've been reading comments, I fully suspect the STA is being trolled just like the leftivist SJWs that think the OK Hans sign is a secret white supremacy gang sign.

      We are in a state of affairs where beaurocrats in will take any sliver of evidence to establish and extend their political power.

    • "I'm now officially more concerned about the TSA than any terrorist organization on earth"

      You write that as if it wasn't equally true on the day the TSA was invented...

  • So, they are frightened that a laptop may contain a bomb or incendiary device. Has it never occurred to them that a terrorist could use a remote control device to detonate it?
  • Is the TSA taking into account just how much this could cost American travelers in time and luggage fees?

    WAY too many people travel with laptops these days - especially business travelers. You're going to take away the best tool for getting work done on an airplane while sitting for hours?

    I'll take my chances with Achmed and his shaved-faced crew...

    • Is the TSA taking into account just how much this could cost American travelers in time and luggage fees?

      No. They were too busy thinking about all the new jobs and new expensive equipment they can justify.

  • "Airplanes have been the common threat that we've seen over the past several years."

    Vehicles. Vehicles are the common threat we have been seeing. No one flew a plane into the london bridge, Nice, or any of the other attacks in Germany. It was vehicles.
  • You can daisy chain batteries to get required voltage or connect in parallel. You can use capacitors - most planes provide USB plug for entertainment and use AC outlets that are available on airports and some planes. How far you want to go?
  • Show up 15 min before departure ...naked, quick pass thru security check and board plane directly.
  • Coming soon (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:49PM (#54572473)
    It's only a matter of time before the TSA realizes that the common denominator threatening aircraft security is the passenger and they start banning all passengers from flying. Out of an abundance of caution, of course.
  • FTA: “With today’s terrorism, you can’t trust anybody,” one passenger said.

    Today's terrorism? Were 20th century terrorists really more congenial and neighborly than 2017's Islamic fundamentalist crew? Was the passenger 12 years old?

    “It’s a determined enemy,” according to Farbstein. “They’re targeting transportation hubs, and so what we want to do is make sure you get to your destination safely, and go home safely.”

    Talk about pre-practiced, BS-me

  • by DewDude ( 537374 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:50PM (#54572487)
    have policies against having electronics in checked baggage. If the TSA says you have to check them...and the airlines say you can't; now what?
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @06:53PM (#54572507)

    A 9V battery does not deliver more power than an AA cell. It delivers less. (AA alkaline cell: 1.5V@0.38A = .57W, AAA alkaline cell: 1.5V @0.3A = 0.5W, 9V alkaline cell: 9V@0.05A = 0.45W, all taken from Varta datasheets for fast discharge currents.) A 9V battery delivers more voltage, which in times of cheap, low-input voltage capable and super efficient (90% efficienty) step-up converters means exactly nothing. Also, depending on detonator-type, you can detonate with 1.5V directly.

    The TSA has stepped from merely ridiculously incompetent to fully incompetent.

  • Terror Alert Level Intense Orange Red [youtube.com]

    When is there ever going to be enough of a guarantee to make air travel "safe enough"? When the TSA finally says, "We're finally going to make air travel 100% safe - by banning all airplanes on flights..."?

  • by darkain ( 749283 )

    9v batteries are DANGEROUS oh em geez https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Thanks Israel and Trump!

  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @07:07PM (#54572611)

    If people wanted to take down aircraft, they would be able to take down aircraft. They don't want to take down aircraft - they want to terrify the easily frightened so that the easily frightened will overreact and do insane stupid shit like we have in the US.

    If the shoe bomber or the underpants bomber or any other kind of person they sent had been ACTUALLY tasked with taking down a plane rather than sowing fear and absurd responses, guess what? They would have set the fucking things off in the bathroom, not tried to do so while sitting in their fucking seat where people could see them. They sent morons to do something moronical, and the morons in charge ate that shit up.

    If they actually wanted to kill people, they would have suicide bombers go and wait for security screening lines to inevitably get backed up. They'd kill way more people that way and they wouldn't have to go through the security theater at the airports that weeds out the dimmest bulbs in the bunch.

    What they're doing now - attacking soft targets by ramming into crowds with trucks and shit - can only be meant to do one thing: terrify morons and get them to overreact, just like the morons are doing.

    Fucking cowards. By that I mean the "terrorists" and the pants-pissing weaklings who vote the "leaders" into office who try this shit. Literally anyone who is legitimately afraid of being killed by a terrorist and doesn't live in a literal war zone is a fucking moron.

    Know what killed and injured more people than the attack on London Bridge last week? FUCKING EVERYTHING. More people - by a fucking MILE - get killed every day from drunk driving in the US. More people get killed - by 10 fucking miles - by tobacco use in the US, every day. Domestic violence kills more people than terrorists do. Fuck, having to DRIVE instead of FLY because the airports are so fucking toxic kills more people, I'm sure.

  • On the plus side... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Theaetetus ( 590071 ) <{theaetetus.slashdot} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday June 07, 2017 @07:09PM (#54572633) Homepage Journal
    I won't have to fly anymore for business, since who's going to send employees anywhere without their laptops? Thanks, TSA, for making teleconferencing even more appealing!
  • It's not safer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @12:23AM (#54574435)

    How is carrying a laptop in luggage any "safer" than carrying it in the passenger cabin?

    The same laptop is still on the plane, either way. It has the same potential to explode thanks to shady battery manufacturing or because of malicious intent. Putting it in the cargo hold doesn't change any of that.

    What it DOES do is prevent anyone from attempting to fight a fire if the laptop battery ignited. At least in the passenger cabin, there is a chance someone will notice the thing burning and take action to put it out or smother it as best they can. Meanwhile the same thing locked in cargo below will just burn until it sets off the fire detector, at which point nothing else happens because nobody can get to it. We know from history fires like that tend to take out the controls or emit enough toxic fumes to kill all on board. In flight fire is BAD.

  • by Marful ( 861873 ) on Thursday June 08, 2017 @03:58AM (#54575029)
    TSA suggests travelers stow their cash, jewely, and other valuable in a container they're not legally allowed to lock so that other TSA agents can steal them...

    If it's ok to store in the cargo of an aircraft it's ok to take in carry on.

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