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I Made It Through Airport Security?!

Updated on June 19, 2013

A Thoughtful Gift

A couple of years ago, I was at my daugher's home, and noticed her tabletop fireplace. I commented on how much I liked it - and she remembered.

When I flew to visit her this holiday season, she gave me my own tabletop fireplace for Christmas. It's a pretty piece of home decor - that runs on oil - like a lantern. I was thrilled to have gotten such a thoughtful gift.

At the Airport

When it was time for me to go home, I packed the fireplace carefully in my suitcase.

I was standing in line at the airport, when I noticed a sign warning against having any flammable substances in luggage (punishable by a $25,000 fine and years in prison). Not wanting to take any risks (and since my bag has been chosen to be searched by TSA on every trip I have ever taken), I decided to ask the desk agent about the tabletop fireplace.

At first, the airlines counter agent said that I couldn't take it on the plane. (I was thinking that if the oil/fuel was a problem, I'd just toss it, and keep the unit). I told her that it had gone through postal mail, and that it was still packed for shipping -- but she curtly replied that postal mail does not mean it can go on airplanes.

She, and a couple of other agents, studied the box -- and finally determined that it was "probably ok", since the oil was described as botanical - and since the box didn't say anything about flammability. I offered that I wanted to be safe -- that I didn't want there to be a problem -- and I wanted to "disclose" things, so there wouldn't be an issue.

The agent told me that if TSA had a problem with it, they would call my cell phone.

No cell call. One of my bags WAS opened and searched (again) - but it was the one that did not have my gift in it!

At the OTHER Airport!

When I got to my home airport, I pulled that suitcase off the carousel. It seemed to be vibrating; and I shrugged it off, thinking that I was probably just feeling the vibration from the luggage carousel.

I continued to a fairly remote spot outside the airport, to wait for my ride. Then, I noticed that - not only was the suitcase vibrating - but it was also making a humming/buzzing sound!! I couldn't imagine (and I was highly relieved that it hadn't triggered some kind of security alert (or airport shutdown) with the baggage handlers).

I assumed that it must have something to do with the fireplace -- but, when I opened the bag, I realized that it was a battery-powered air pump (that I packed to inflate an air mattress); it had been bumped, and the switched turned on (so the inflator was running and humming).

Guess I lucked out in getting home without triggering an alarm!!

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