TSA protects nation against dangerous sippy cup


If you believe that the Transportation Security Administration is our last line of defense against terrorist hijackers, this story will make you proud. If you think the TSA is just another useless government agency charged with enforcing a pointless ban on liquids and gels, it’s more likely to make your blood boil.

On June 11, Monica Emmerson and her toddler were flying from Washington to Reno, Nev., when she was stopped by a TSA agent because there was water in her son’s sippy cup. The cup was seized by the agent.

What happens next is detailed in this blog posting and article.

Emmerson claims that she “accidentally” spilled the water in her son’s cup, was threatened with arrest, and missed her flight. TSA’s response was to release the video and report of the incident, which shows that the spill wasn’t an accident but supports her claim that she was harassed (it shows an officer tugging on Emmerson’s shoulder at one point).


I’ve reviewed Emmerson’s account and the TSA version of events, and as someone who mediates disputes every day, I think there’s plenty of blame to go around. Emmerson acted as if the agents should cut her some slack because she was traveling with a young child and is a former Secret Service agent. And the TSA agents behaved like control freaks.

Both parties deserve a spanking from Miss Manners. (Now that’s something I know a lot of guys would pay good money to see …)

The loser is the TSA. Not for releasing the video and report — it had the right to defend itself — or even for enforcing its rules. No, the TSA loses because it is tasked with confiscating liquids and gels that obviously pose no credible threat to aviation security. That’s a decision the frontline TSA agents didn’t make; rather, it’s something their overzealous superiors made them do.

Related story:   Who's really to blame for these absurd luggage rules?

It’s time for the TSA to drop its silly ban on liquids and gels. Right now.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

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