Forgot Password?

Mac Users: Datamyne requires adjustments
to your browser's security settings.

View instructions HERE

Minimum system reqs for Datamyne 3.0:

IE 11 or higher, and current versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are fully supported. Your browser must have JavaScript enabled. Please clear your cache if upgrading from 2.1. You may need to adjust security settings to enable Excel downloading.

If you are having trouble logging in, please

Call 833.262.2315

Datamyne Resource Center

Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

Pepper Spray Irritates TSA

Category: Trade Policy, Transport

And a passenger draws a penalty for an ill-timed disclosure

by Peter Quinter, guest columnist

Our beloved Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the responsibility of screening passengers to “ensure that certain items and persons prohibited from flying don’t board commercial airliners.” This is accomplished through 43,000 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) located at 450 airports around the United States. While I am waiting in line to be screened, there seems always to be one energetic TSO screaming at my fellow passengers to take our shoes off, remove most liquids, take our belts off, take out our laptops, etc. It is hard to remember that the official mission of the TSA is to “protect the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.”

I do have one funny story to tell you about the TSA and a certain passenger.

While the TSA regulations specifically prohibit the carrying on board an aircraft, or even into the airport, any weapon or explosive device, a particular passenger had a pepper spray pen with him. The pepper spray pen was not detected by the TSO when the passenger’s body and luggage went through those radiation-emitting devices.

That is bad enough, but what the passenger did next was a mistake. After passing through TSA, he then approached the crew of the aircraft at his gate of departure, and handed over the pepper spray pen to the gate agents with some sort of statement that the TSOs did not detect the pen during the screening process. Predictably, the passenger was then approached by law enforcement, interrogated, and not allowed to fly on that aircraft. The passenger subsequently received a Letter of Investigation from the TSA with the threat of a $11,000 penalty for attempting to compromise a security system utilized by TSA.

Seems to me that the gate agents and TSA should simply have said “thank you” to the passenger for turning over the pepper spray pen, rather than going on a witch hunt. Perhaps the lesson the TSA wants to get across to people is not to tell the truth. If the passenger had kept his mouth shut, he would have kept his pepper spray pen, not missed his flight, and not have to pay a potential penalty of $11,000. Plus, I guess now the TSOs will start yelling at passengers that the list of prohibited items includes pepper spray pens.

One more thing. While it is prohibited to carry on board an aircraft any pepper spray, you may still transport it in your checked luggage, according to the TSA website. Go figure!

Please call or email me with any questions or comments.

Copyright © 2011, Becker & Poliakoff

About Peter Quinter

10 May 2012: Peter Quinter is now a Shareholder in the law firm of GrayRobinson and Chair of the firm’s Customs & International Trade Law Group. Based in the firm’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices, Quinter principally represents persons and companies involved in international trade and transport. Editor of the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog, Quinter is widely recognized for his expertise in international and trade law.

You can contact Peter Quinter at [email protected] or at (954) 270-1864.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

Date posted: October 11, 2011



  1. It does no good to try to do the “right thing” with government as it is these days. By doing so, in their eyes you admit your guilt and they can treat you like a criminal. The passenger should have kept his mouth shut.

  2. Anyone who trusts the American government (or even their fellow government-schooled and government-bootlicking Americans) is a fool. Government has become dangerous beyond the wildest fears of the founding fathers.

    Dave in Wasilla - October 11, 2011, 10:57 am
  3. Today another TSA screener was arrested in Maryland for child pornography. Where is the story on that? No one wants to read propaganda for these misfits.

    There have been ten TSA screeners arrested this year for sex crimes, nine of which involved children. Overall 54 TSA screeners arrested so far this year for serious crimes with nearly three months left to go. Unfortunately, these are just the ones who have been caught and likely many more have yet to be discovered.

    There are too many criminals in TSA and we must demand that these perverse practices be stopped. Who is protecting our children from these deviants? It is time that we and our elected officials demand and end to these perverse policies to protect our children and the traveling public from these predators.

    Sadly this is the result when Government sanctions child molestation, sexual assault and strip searches in the guise of airport security.

    TSA Crimes & Abuses