TSA's World-Famous Welcome Mat

Even the Japanese know the TSA sucks.

We've written more than once about the vagaries of the Transportation Security Administration.  The TSA oversees a finely-honed process of making sure that air travelers are as frustrated as possible before they even get to the departure gate.

Standing around waiting for our carry-on baggage to be scanned in order to be admitted to the departure lounges where we can rub shoulders with all the undocumented illegals who do the vacuuming was bad enough, but when the TSA got the authority to paw through our checked baggage, things got a lot worse.  The New York Times reported that "more than 28,000 claims of loss or damage have been filed."

The TSA's $5 billion worth of bomb screening machines have a 35% false positive rate and falsely-accused bags have to be opened and searched by hand.  The TSA has the right to break open any suspect bag by any means necessary, so locking the bags is no help.

In fact, it makes things worse.  A latched but unlocked bag has at least a fighting chance of showing up at the other end in once piece; but a locked bag is sure to arrive after a trip through the shredder, if at all.  Surprising just about nobody except possibly the TSA heads themselves, the Times reports that the screening process is ineffective: "Some Americans may believe that luggage thefts are a small price to pay for making air travel safe.  But the safety is a mirage..."

Yet it is an ill wind indeed that blows nobody any good.  We've reported on a car dealer making lemonade out of lemons from Barack Obama's haughty criticism of rural rubes in Pennsylvania and Japanese entrepreneurs are just as creative.  A reader sent us a picture of Japan's answer to the TSA, the "TSA Suitcase."

The maker of this high-tech suitcase doesn't claim that it will keep the the TSA from stealing the shirt off your back because the TSA has the right to open your bag.  It doesn't promise to make it less likely that TSA bomb sniffers will suspect your bag of maleficent intent which gives them an excuse to open it in search of swag.  What the manufacturer promises is that the TSA can't break the bag.

Having your shirts, watches, and CDs lifted out of your bag is annoying enough.  Not being able to sue the TSA adds insult to injury.  But what's worst of all is having TSA break the catches so that the bag comes open in the aircraft hold or on the baggage conveyor - apparently they're too dull even to learn the invaluable handyman's lesson of the Red Green Show: "Duct Tape Forever!"  When that happens, you lose it all, even your used undershorts that would be beneath the dignity of even the TSA minions to swipe but which might still be of some use to you.

Be that as it may, no worries with this baby.  It's made of titanium.  It's absolutely, positively guaranteed that not even the TSA can break it!

Rob it, yes.  Rifle through it and mess everything up, absolutely.  Leave garments hanging out when they close it?  Sure, nothing anybody can do about that.  But they won't break it.  If they do manage to close it, whatever they didn't steal will stay inside.

That's a guarantee.

The Bad News

The fame of the TSA has become so great that, twelve thousand miles away, the purveyors of this miracle of Japanese technology need only cite the name "TSA"; they needn't even name its home country for their Japanese audience to instantly know what they're getting at.  This seems like an advantage for the manufacturers - after all, the purpose of their product is known to all - but we're not so sure that their advertising plan is without flaw.

Tourism is a big business.  In these days of the low US dollar, we ought to expect that more foreigners will visit the US and bring back some of the dollars we've been sending overseas, but with the TSA putting out this sort of "Welcome Mat," who'd want to?

Having a TSA-proof suitcase is a fine idea.  An even better idea if you're a Japanese tourist with a yen for spending, is to use last year's suitcase, visit Frankfurt instead, and save yourself a lot of bother.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Very good point. I frequently fly between Canada and Europe. Sometimes it's cheaper to connect in the US, but I learned quickly that it's NOT worth the money.

I once had a box that had to be opened leaving Canada, and I was allowed to open the box myself, and able to watch the airport employee do a good job taping the box back up. When I had a bag opened while connecting through the states, I found out 5000 miles later, when I opened the previously neatly packed bag (valuables well protected) to find a mess, with the most expensive item at the top, well exposed to any good bump.

Even if my destination was in the US, I would consider it preferable to fly to Canada and then drive into the US. You guys are really kicking yourselves in the ass on this one.
August 1, 2008 4:43 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...