Now TSA wants to test passengers’ beverages at the gate?

posted at 8:16 pm on July 6, 2012 by Howard Portnoy

So, what’ll you have while you wait for your flight: beer, juice, cola, coffee, tea? The TSA is not buying, mind you, but inquiring minds at that agency want to know. In fact their curiosity is such that they want you to volunteer part of your drink so that they can test it at the gate. No, silly, they are not asking you to furnish them with a urine sample (at least not yet!).

What could they possibly be expecting to find? That is a question raised in a news report by Grand Junction, Colo., station KJCT, though answers are not forthcoming.

When asked about the curious policy, all the TSA would tell reporters was

TSA employees have many layers of security throughout airports. Passengers may be randomly selected for additional screening measures at the checkpoint or in the gate at any time.

Travelers interviewed in the newscast rightly insist that they are entitled to know what the agency is up to. Some argue that with the already exorbitant cost of airport snacks, the TSA should let them know before they purchase a beverage whether they are going to be required to relinquish a portion of it. I would take it a step further and say that if agents want a sip of my $5 drink, they should at least be willing to go halfsies on it.

I also think the TSA should come clean on the purpose of this latest intrusion. Are they envisioning enterprising terrorists infiltrating the gate area to plant explosive materials in a drink vendor’s fountain? It sounds preposterous, but if that’s the concern why not monitor the beverages at the point of sale?

Whatever the thinking, the agency only engenders more ill will when they add another “layer of security,” demand passengers compliance, and refuse to let them in on what they are being asked to comply with.

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