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Fellow airline travelers be warned


Original Post
Thomas Chapman · · Sewanee, Tennessee · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I remember a topic a while back about bringing gear on planes. Well I just found out the hard way where airport security draws the line. It wasn't the cams, or "chains" (as they called my quickdraws). But the most dangerous of all, the cordalette. Due to my cordalettes ability to subdue and strangle people, I had to pay out to have the damn bag checked. I don't know if this was just the Milan airport rules or if it'll be broadly applied due to increased threat levels. Just wanted to let yall know incase you're trying to travel with some dangerous 7mm cordage.  

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5

The unfortunate thing is, you still have no idea where the line will be drawn next time you fly. The next TSA agent could be fine with the cordelette and tell you that carabiners are deadly if used as brass knuckles. 

Per TSA rules, at least for domestic flights, everything should be fine except for obviously a knife or your nut tool (tool over 7 inches). But the reality is the individual security person looking at your bag can do basically whatever they feel like in that moment. 

Checking your gear risks losing or damaging your luggage, carrying on your gear shouldn't be, but unfortunately is, always a roll of the dice. 

TBlom · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2004 · Points: 360

Most recently, my yogurt was confiscated... so much for breakfast!

On another flight, I had to lose an MSR stove (they said it smelled like gas, although the fuel tank was empty).

On another flight, I had to rush back to mail myself a leatherman tool.  My girlfriend at the time was allowed on the plane with hers.  Interestingly enough, they neglected to confiscate the dozen or so tent stakes.  In theory I could have stabbed the eyes out of a dozen people with those stakes!

An airport security search is the last place to search for logic...

Max Supertramp · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 65

at least the public genital rubdown is uniform and complimentary.  

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

I am still amazed that people are allowed to travel with books, for word is mightier than sword.

That said, I am really grateful that the miscreants did not try to smuggle explosive materials in their anuses, that would make for really interesting security checks.


Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Em Cos wrote:

The unfortunate thing is, you still have no idea where the line will be drawn next time you fly. The next TSA agent could be fine with the cordelette and tell you that carabiners are deadly if used as brass knuckles. 

Per TSA rules, at least for domestic flights, everything should be fine except for obviously a knife or your nut tool (tool over 7 inches). But the reality is the individual security person looking at your bag can do basically whatever they feel like in that moment. 

Checking your gear risks losing or damaging your luggage, carrying on your gear shouldn't be, but unfortunately is, always a roll of the dice. 

True enough, but the OP's incident was in Milan, so no TSA. Rules can be very different internationally.

Em Cos · · Boulder, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 5
Marc801 C wrote:

True enough, but the OP's incident was in Milan, so no TSA. Rules can be very different internationally.

Which is why I specified TSA and domestic flights, as those are the rules I'm most familiar with. I believe the experience can be fairly universal though, which the OP's story seems to support. 

Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 380

We came awfully close to getting ropes and cordalettes confiscated by security in Buenos Aires (AEP). Took a lot of smiling, kindness, broken Spanish, and charades but we managed to convince the security agent that we weren't bad dudes. Probably didn't hurt that our connection was really tight and we didn't have time to check bags - no doubt they felt sorry for us.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

Best thing you can hope for is getting a security person who is climber. I have gotten a full treatment because they thought the nut tool was a knife and they found what I guess was the chalk in the bag to be flagged as possible bomb. Other times I got someone who didn't even take a second look at the the bag fully of climbing gear and even said have a nice climbing trip.

Aaron Mc. · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 45

If you go through a hub that's also a famous or well known climbing destination, the TSA/security personnel at the airport may be used to seeing many climbing gear in either checked bags or carry-ons. Like what the other user said, it all comes down to the specific individual checking your bag - he/she may be familiar with climbing gear and just wave you on or that person may be just as oblivious and have you take all your stuff out the bag and get inspected individually. Plan on getting to the airport early in case you run into the latter situation. 

Tristan Mayfield · · SLC, UT · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 45

Literally just got back from Milan and had no issues there. Like, they searched my wife's very non-threatening looking purse filled with basically nothing and let my large pack filled with all my climbing gear go by. It's probably just bad luck for you. BTW where'd you go, we ended up climbing in Finale Ligure, freaking fantastic climbing there.

As a funny side note, we had a tight connection in Newark in which they made me check my backpack with the gear at the gate. I was annoyed but compliant (had to, I was flying united, haha). They ended up sending it somewhere else by accident but it turned out okay as they got it back to my place later that same night we arrived back in SLC. The really good part was that there was a tag showing that someone had actually opened my bag to search it at one point, but it didn't look disturbed at all... so I opened my pack to see how they managed to fit everything back in it and noticed that they moved my helmet which was on top, but right underneath the helmet I had hurriedly stashed a bunch of really really smelly socks (was in a rush to pack) and I noticed that nothing beneath the socks had been taken out or moved at all! Haha! So just put some really rich socks or underwear in your stuff if you don't want it disturbed? Hahaha

Truck13 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

Just went through TSA at BWI, with caribiners, chalk, cordelette, harness, ect.  Had to unpack, nothing was taken.  Agent did not know any think about climbing.

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250

I think they decide these things at random.

In Beijing, they confiscated my portable phone charger (the battery was a hazard! But I just flew there from US, I was just changing planes? And it wasn't a hazard 18 hours ago? And my iPad is O.K.?)

On the way back from Barcelona, we had to check in everything metal (gri-gri, quickdraws, all 'biners, even a small plastic portable stickclip, because it had the metal loop at the end), "because you can swing it at someone and hurt them", but on the way to Spain all of those were in carry-on luggage without a problem.

Flying back from California (but only once!) Gri-gri was deemed too dangerous, but quickdraws were O.K.

And in Las Vegas they (again, only once) took issue with the "splinter-outs" in my first aid kit- a pack of sterile flat rounded metal things about 1 inch long,  with a sharp point about 2mm long, for digging the splinters out of your skin.

Gabe Cisneros · · Baltimore, md · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
Max Supertramp wrote:

at least the public genital rubdown is uniform and complimentary.  

+2

Brad Christie · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 10

A harness in Croatia was considered a strangulation device also and had to check the bag.  The guy was nice and was able to check for free.  I saw a thread a while back and everyone was talking about flying with gear all the time, both international and domestic.  For me, it will always now be to just assume I have to check the bag.  

Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 10
bchristie Christie wrote:

A harness in Croatia was considered a strangulation device also and had to check the bag.   

I'm surprised we get to keep our belts and shoelaces at this point

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Eric wrote:

I'm surprised we get to keep our belts and shoelaces at this point

Eventually we'll all be required to fly naked and unconcious. 

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 277
Max Supertramp wrote:

at least the public genital rubdown is uniform and complimentary.  

Yes, I've found that the gentlemen with the rubber glove is surprisingly gentle.

Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 380

Truth is that TSA and other security agents are trained and briefed on threats that can seem scary and very real. Given all the threats that they're told about (whether real or exaggerated), it's easy to see how some are just scared stiff about anything they see in a bag that they don't understand and can seem remotely threatening. And if you argue, it just reinforces the idea that you're an aggressive, dangerous person so they'll dig in their heels. Frustrating, but at least well-intentioned. It's all dependent on who is looking through the X-ray machine and how scared they are about the threat of terrorism in their airport. The worst case I ever saw was in Eastern Iowa Airport... kind of funny that the security agent in Cedar Rapids believed his airport was under imminent threat, while at my home airport 4 miles from the White House the agents were pretty relaxed.

A little tip - if you think an agent is going overboard and you have extra time, take your bag back and say you're going to check it at the counter. Then either find a different security line (e.g., neighboring terminal) or grab a beer and wait a while so the agents at your line turn over and new folks are there. But tread lightly... it's a good thing that they take their jobs seriously and it doesn't help to aggravate tensions.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Emmett Lyman wrote:

A little tip - if you think an agent is going overboard and you have extra time, take your bag back and say you're going to check it at the counter. Then either find a different security line (e.g., neighboring terminal) or grab a beer and wait a while so the agents at your line turn over and new folks are there. But tread lightly... it's a good thing that they take their jobs seriously and it doesn't help to aggravate tensions.

Of course if you're observed doing line-shopping, that alone will raise suspicion.

John Byrnes · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Dec 2007 · Points: 451
Truck13 wrote:

Just went through TSA at BWI, with caribiners, chalk, cordelette, harness, ect.  Had to unpack, nothing was taken.  Agent did not know any think about climbing.

British West Indies?  You mean the Caymans?   Those guys see climbing gear all the time.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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