Weapons and Airplanes Don’t Mix

August 23, 2009

in Passenger Stories

I was on a LA to NYC flight with my son (11 years old) and before we left, my son bought a bunch of throwing stars from one of the China Town gift shops in LA. These things were Razor Sharp, I had no clue my son also bought a mini katana which when I wasn’t looking he slipped one of the throwing stars into my CARRY ON!!! He put the other weapons in my luggage…

Well we ACTUALLY made it past security (I still didn’t know I had a razor sharp throwing star in my carry on) and we boarded the plane. Next thing I know 2 air marshals with GUNS DRAWN at me and 5 Police officers with MP5 Sub Machine Guns stormed on the plane, threw me on floor of the plane and handcuffed me. I kept asking “What the hell are you guys doing?” My son is watching this, “What did I do???”

So the 5 police and 2 Air Marshals took me in cuffs off the plane with my son, and marched me in front of the entire terminal into this security back room. They then opened my luggage and pulled out the Mini Katana, The Throwing stars, then they pulled the one out of my CARRY ON! My son is pretty smart and began yelling “Its my fault! My Fault! I put that in there, I didn’t know…” But the police didn’t care. So the plane has already taken off by now, and my son is taken away.

I’m now being interrogated by 2 special agents about where these “weapons” came from, why I had them, why I bought my son weapons, and they kept insisting I put the throwing star in my own carry on. After 2 hours they said well, you aren’t leaving California for a while…I asked “What, like not on the next flight?” They said “No…you’re going to be held at the jail to see the judge, do you realize how many laws you have broken?” I began to freak out, I am 45 years old and never been arrested in my life. I said let me call my lawyer in New York please. They wouldn’t let me make any calls because they considered me a terrorist and I didn’t have “rights” in their eyes.

So I spent TWO YES (2) Nights in JAIL, spoke to the judge and was facing a $50,000 Fine or 1-5 Years in FEDERAL PRISON. I was released on a $100,000 BAIL, and had to return to LA in 2 months for court. Well my lawyer and I built our case in New York, and finally the court day came. I got no jail time but a $10,000 FINE PLUS Court Costs and my lawyer costs. Total Costs for this stupid mistake my son made added to about $20,000…..

Don’t bring weapons on a plane…ever…you will go to jail, even if its a legitimate accident.

WORST PLANE STORY EVER

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

david August 23, 2009 at 5:54 pm

how is this the worst plane story ever? you basically were not on the plane

and how do you not notice your son buying those things? did you leave him alone in chinatown with his own money?

and thats all your fault, just because it was an accident you should still be held accountable, people who see a shadow or shape of those things, or anything like that would freak out and it would make people fear for their lives

honestly, and i am not saying it to sound mean or anything, but i am pleased that they took you off the plane and searched you like that, and that you were fined, for something like that (razor sharp starts, etc) you cant just let that go, accident or not

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Jodi August 24, 2009 at 4:45 am

OMG.. That would be so scary. lol But it was hilarious. Thanks for sharing.

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TheBigM August 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Its illegal to bring weapons onto a plane?

Who knew?

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SAW August 26, 2009 at 3:05 am

Oh… this is entirely your fault, and you deserve the fine, and more. You deserver the cost of every hour you had to pay your lawyer.

If your son was old enough to have those weapons, then YOU should have taught him how to behave on a plane. The fact that he acted SO stupidly reflects on you. The two of you must make some pair of idiots.

Embarrassed by being marched through the terminal in handcuffs? Good.

As for the various agencies "not believing you", I would venture to guess they completely believed every word – BUT – figured "here's someone SO stupid, let's teach him a little lesson", and good for them.

There's signs EVERYWHERE – if you're carrying "WEAPONS", you have to declare them – whether in carry-on or checked baggage. Even people who rarely (if ever) fly see that as common sense.

Next time – take a bus, 'cause I sure as hell don't want either you or your kid on a plane with me.

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saw needs to chill March 24, 2014 at 7:35 pm

chill bro

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John August 26, 2009 at 5:12 am

This must be how America treats her citizens then.

I once forgot my Swiss knife in my carry-on bagage at Shanghai international airport. They took it out at the X-ray check and told me I could pick it up if I returned to Shanghai within a year's time. No fine, no warning and certainly no arrest and court proces.

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saw August 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

John… this is an example of how America treats idiots, not its citizenry in general.

I've carried a knife in my carry-on by accident too… I was treated very nicely by the TSA – though – I had to sacrifice the knife, or pay to send it by mail in a nicely provided TSA envelope. Wasn't that great a knife so it went in the bin.

No… this guy and his kid were fools, and they were treated that way 🙂

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Demotage August 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm

NO offense Saw, but let's say TSA had not noticed your knife…..what's the difference between your circumstance and that of the story writer? The only one I can see is that s/he made it onto the plane with the star in his/her bag. So are you saying that had you made it on the plane with your weapon, you think you deserved a 10K find and 2 days in jail?

This was an accident and the security people over-reacted. There is no way this person deserved the treatment they received.

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david August 30, 2009 at 10:54 am

demotage, i think that person, and SAW should have recieved that treatment, accident or not, its not like you can say oh i accidently brought a bomb on the plane im sorry it wont happen again, a weapon is a weapon and you have to take everything seriously, otherwise anyone can just say it is an accident, gun a knife whatever

im not sure if that is because i live just outside NYC and i have neighbors that worked in the WTC and many were able to get out, but no matter what even if its an accident it cant just be a slap on the wrist

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Demotage August 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

David,

I disagree. I completely sympathize with your's and anyone's loss that day, but the point is to make flights safe and to keep anything like it from happening again. The TSA is wasting way too much time trying to track down every pair of nail scissors, pen knife and letter opener, and thus allowing the possibility of far greater dangers. The reasons are myriad. But just look at the bin next time you are going through security. It is chock full of sharp objects. If you sent every person to jail who had what is a 'weapon' by your description in their carryon, half the people taking flights would be in the hoosgow.

Next, a "weapon is not a weapon". If someone brings a firearm or an explosive on a plane – I'm right with you – throw the book at them – but a Swiss army knife or a throwing star? A throwing star is a weapon only in the hands of a expert, and not a particularly effective one at that – you can't bring a plane down with one even if you are some sort of ninja.

Further reasons that this is a waste of time are:

1) TSA is waisting time looking for small sharp objects, 99.9999999% of which are brought aboard accidentally and would not be used as a weapon even if they made it on the plane.

2) A determined foe is going to get his/her sharp thing on the plane if he/she really wants to. I heard this somewhere, but I can't remember where – but even maximum security prisons can't keep out sharp objects – because you can fashion one out of almost anything. I could bring a piece of sandpaper on board and fashion one of those plastic eating knives into something just as dangerous as a box cutter.

3) Most important however, is that the 9/11 scenario – hijacking a plane with a sharp object has been rendered almost impossible by the changes that have been made since 9/11. Flight decks are locked, pilots carry guns, and there are more air marshalls on planes. If another attack happens, it is not going to happen using a throwing star or a pair of nail scissors.

The far far greater danger is explosives in the cargo hold. Only a fraction of bags are screened. If one wanted to bring down an airliner (which if TSA is reading, I DON'T!!!!!), that would be the easier way to do it. I think that by spending so much time on keeping every sharp object off planes, TSA is shortchanging the effort to stop a far greater danger. I'm sure it will be of great consolation to passengers on a plane that is blown up to know that no one has an illegal hat pin on board.

Now don't get me started on the violation of the rights of American citizens because someone decided that terrorists should not have any. As the person said – even if you are a law abiding American citizen, who through no knowledge of yours, had something not particularly dangerous put in your bag – you are presumed to be a terrorist and stripped of your rights. That is not the America I grew up in. Damned if those bastards/monsters of 9/11 should win by helping turn America into an authoritarian state.

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saw August 31, 2009 at 2:40 am

Demotage…

How can you sympathize with this retard? His son PUT them in the bag ON PURPOSE, and was old enough to know better! Let's review the actual events: 1) idiots put ninja weapons (not a pocket knife) into a carry-on AND checked baggage, and declare neither. 2) You "ASSUME" that the TSA missed the weapons in the carry-on. In fact, it was noticing them that might have triggered a more thorough review of the checked bags – and noted that nothing was declared. 3) Knowing that both bags had weapons, the authorities removed the passengers from the plane.

We're not talking about terrorists, or trying to equate these twits with them. There is a difference between what they did, and what many Americans do every day when they accidentally forget to remove a banned item from a bag that's usually either checked (liquids) or not taken on a plane .

You have to remember – I truly believe that TSA was not worried about these two people hijacking a plane. They responded for two reasons 1) because they are instructed to by law, and 2) the people really deserved to be taught a lesson.

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Demotage August 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Saw,

I do sympathize with him, same as I'd sympathize with you if you'd been thrown in jail for your Swiss Army knife. It terms of danger on a plane, your knife was just as dangerous as a star. There is no relevant difference between a knife and a throwing star – in terms of their potential use as a weapon. In fact, the TSA website lists knives, but not stars are prohibited items (in carryons), although common sense would dictate not to bring stars as well.

Furthermore, according to the TSA, sharp objects (including weapons) in checked luggage DO NOT need to be declared. Only fire arms and ammunition need to be declared.

I agree with you, the TSA was not worried about these people hijacking a plane. But following the law was also not their motivation. If it had been, they would not have questioned these "suspects" after they requested a lawyer. So if they weren't following the law, and weren't interested in these people as terrorists, then what's left? They were just on some kind of power trip (teaching them a lesson, if you want to call it that). Hell, the TSA doesn't even follow it's own rules. Their website says I can bring on a lighter or a pair of scissors as long as the blades are under 4 inches. I got both my lighter and my 1/2 inch nail scissors confiscated on my last flight.

But I repeat, the relevant thing, is that TSA is actually endangering the flying public by wasting time on such nonsense, rather than concentrating of where the threats are really coming from.

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saw August 31, 2009 at 4:52 pm

No, the TSA motivation was NOT following the law (that's their job, though maybe not "motivation"). Their "motivation" was teaching this guy a lesson. One he richly deserved.

As for wasting their time – I'm sure there were enough people about to keep the public safe while these two were arrested (by 5 cops and 2 air martials – not the TSA) and interrogated (by special agents, not the TSA), so the argument about the TSA wasting their time is kinda moot.

MY point is – that I have no worry of being arrested or even mildly bothered by airport agents for a forgotten sharp. They won't do that to me – 'cause I'm not that-guy-kinda-stupid.

And the signs tell you to declare all weapons & firearms – not just firearms (at least the signs in LGA and ORD, where I went through just yesterday)

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Demotage September 1, 2009 at 1:43 am

You are not ‘that kind of guy stupid’. So I guess you are going to have to describe to me the difference between a knife and a star.

As far as wasting time – I was not talking about this guy in particular – I was talking about the zillion hours that are spent making sure no sharps are brought on board, when basically they are not a threat to air security.

But honestly, they throw the guy to the floor and point guns at him over a throwing star? If that is not a power trip, I don’t know what is.

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saw September 1, 2009 at 1:51 am

Demotage – Ok we're starting to get to the nitty gritty now – good.

The difference between a pocket knife and a star (at least, the knife I carry with me). A small pocket knife is what's carried by many many people, every single day. Most people do NOT carry sharpened throwing stars. It's easy to forget a knife one carries all the time in one's laptop bag or briefcase. How many people do this with throwing stars?

Sharps are not a threat to air security??? Where were YOU on 9/11? It was simple box-cutters that hijackers used to cause grave injury. I thank the TSA every day I fly for removing as many sharps as possible from the equation.

And they didn't throw him to the floor over the stars – they had already scanned his luggage. They tossed him to the ground because of multiple weapons violations, AND their own safety – who knows what he was carrying on his own person. But the most important reason he got shoved to the floor? He deserved it.

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John September 1, 2009 at 2:21 am

What I don't "get" in this story is why TSA allowed him to even board the plane with this, when did they find out what he had in his bagage, at the X-ray right? Why wasn't he stopped there?

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Demotage September 1, 2009 at 7:43 am

Saw,

1) So let me make sure I get this straight: The reason that a knife is not dangerous to bring on a plane is because lots people do it, and a star is dangerous because hardly anyone does? Or is it that if it is easy to forget you have a weapon, its OK, but not if it is something harder to forget?

2) If a star or a box cutter is a violation, so is a knife. A knife is just as dangerous, if not more so. You seem to be arguing that your knife was not dangerous because you had no intent to use it as a weapon. But neither did the star-carrier.

3) There were no 'multiple' violations. There was a single violation. Throwing stars are allowed in checked luggage without declaration. Hell, you can carry a full length sabre in your checked luggage without declaration (according to TSA). The only violation was the star in the carryon. And don't forget, the person did not know it was in their bag. The kid put it in there. Should he have known better? Maybe – depends on the 11 year old.

4) If you'd read all the way through one of my earlier posts, you would have seen my comment about sharps and 9/11. Sharps were certainly used on 9/11 to bring down 4 aircraft and kill thousands more on the ground. The point is, that the security measures put in place after 9/11 -specifically: locked flight decks, pilots with guns, and air marshalls on board, have rendered sharps ineffective in bringing down a plane. The 9/11 scenario can't happen again. Given that there is no reason to believe that terrorists have given up, you have to look at where that next threat is likely to come from. It is not sharps – it is explosives. Therefore, spending your limited resources making sure no nail scissors get on a plane, rather than using those resources to screen all checked luggage and mail for bombs, increases the threat to airplanes, doesn't decrease it. Sure, it would be nice to stop both. But given limited resources, what would you rather have? A knife in the cabin, or a bomb in the luggage compartment?

5) You can't stop it anyway, no matter how many resources you pour into it. They can't keep sharps out of maximum security prisons – how can they hope to keep them off airplanes?

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saw September 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Demotage…

I'll take them by number so it's easier 🙂

1) I never said a knife wasn't dangerous. I never said I should be able to carry it. I never said it was more or less dangerous than anything else. What I DID say, is that I had to part with it because I accidentally had it still in my case. They were NICE about it, not nasty. But I STILL had to loose it. Please re-read. What I DID say, was that it's easy to forget something you carry every day. It's much harder to forget something you just got and are all excited about (like dumbo-kid, in this case).

2) Read the above.

3) There WERE multiple violations. Weapons in the carry-on, and undeclared packed weapons in checked baggage.

4) You list lots of ways that sharps are "rendered inneffective" in bringing down a plane. Maybe it's harder, BUT… they're still very effective in hurting and killing people – and are you going to tell me that every pilot will be able to sit there calmly behind his locked door while his passengers are murdered? I hope I never see my theory proved that they might not just sit there.

5) No… I agree with you… you can't stop it. But you'll never stop rape either, or child molesting. it will go on no matter what you do – so why bother arresting anyone for it…. Did that just make sense to you? I sure hope not.

– SAW

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Demotage September 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Damn! I wrote a brilliant reply and the website ate it when I hit submit. Oh well, here we go again.

Saw, I'm enjoying this – hope you are too.

OK, by the numbers:

1) "What I DID say, was that it’s easy to forget something you carry every day. It’s much harder to forget something you just got and are all excited about (like dumbo-kid, in this case)."

OK, then as I understand your argument, you agree that a knife is just as dangerous as a throwing star, but the difference between your situation and the star-guys is it's OK to have a weapon in your carry on if it is reasonable to forget it's in there, but not if it's not.

Personally, thinking back on my own situations, the only time I've forgotten to take a knife out of my day pack is when I didn't expect it to be there. If I normally carried it in there, then I'd remember to take it out. It's only when I used the bag for something else, like a hike or a camping trip, that I forget to take it out. So basically, I think one is more of a dumbass is they know it's in the bag because it's usually in there.

So they were nice to you – why weren't they nice to the star-guy? They clearly knew the star was in there – but they let him get on the plane. Power trip. Plain and simple. If TSA had decided to allow you to carry your knife on the plane – why would you not have deserved the same treatment?

3) It seems as if we are reduced here to just saying "Uhh-huh! Nuh-Uh!" You say violations, I say no. All I can repeat is that the TSA website does not require declaration of sharps. Q.E.D.

4). I was looking forward to this reply.

I didn't say you couldn't hurt someone with a knife. I said you could not bring down a plane. Post 9/11, I see the conversation going something like this:

Terrorist: Open the door or I'll kill the kid!"

Pilot: Just tell me where you want to fly, and I'll take you there.

T: "Just open the door!"

P: thinks: If they won't accept the offer to fly where they want, then they must want to crash the plane into a building. I have a choice of saving the kid, or killing everyone aboard and thousands more on the ground. It is a hard, but obvious decision.

Now, if the pilot makes the "correct" decision, which she will, people may die but many fewer.

So now, you are asking: why not prevent the situation entirely and keep sharps off the plane? The answer: you can't. A dtermined foe will get them on despite your best efforts.

My point is this: if you can spend most of your resources on stopping sharps from getting on a plane, and fail anyway, while bombers are more or less free to put explosives on the mail or checked luggage – what good is that? You should spend your limited resources on the greater threat.

5). Apples and oranges. Rape, murder, child molesting – all crimes where someone is injured. Bring a knife accidentally on a plane – a situation where someone is potentially injured. And stopped at the cost of ignoring far greater potential for injury and death.

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saw September 2, 2009 at 2:16 am

Demotage…

Actually… yes… an intelligent discussion is always keeps my interest 🙂

So… again… to #1… Yes, it's easy to forget something you carry every day, if one is whisked to the airport with barely a moment's notice. What you seem to be missing is that, unless one routinely carries ninja throwing stars on one's person, it's a really unique situation – and I would think that it would be something that would kind of "stick out" (pun intended) in one's mind.

The difference between the situations (and mine is just an example, I see others just like it on a regular basis) is that in the story, our "protagonist" (did I use the right word there?) took something both unusual AND dangerous, and put it in a carry-on bag, on purpose. He then put more dangerous things into checked baggage. I don't know why you don't view this as being a very different situation.

So why are they nice to me and not star-shmuck? Because I had one stray item. He had several. One is easy to explain… several is harder.

Going to 3 – you're right at this point… but for argument's sake, I'll cede the point based on the TSA website, which lists swords as permissible in checked baggage.

Now to 4 – the tough one – You can't really predict how people will behave – you can only guess. You can sit behind a computer and know the logical choice, but how will people react in that situation, when it's REALLY happening? It's just like the missile silo thing from the 80's – will the guy ACTUALLY turn the key? We don't know for sure until the situation occurs, and then it's too late.

And for 5 – it's not apples and oranges. Yours statement was, that if you can't stop it, you shouldn't bother enforcing it – even if it IS illegal. What about marijuana? Can we consider that as a "possible injury causer"? Lots of different possibilities….

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Demotage September 2, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Saw,

It appears that we have reached in impasse on Items 1-4 – so it's getting boring 😉

On item 5, the difference is that "if you can't stop it, don't bother", is not my primary argument. It's not the reason I think they should stop obsessing about sharps. Rapes, Murders, Child molesting, they matter – so you have to stop as many of them as you can. You will never reach a point of diminishing returns by stopping rape or child molesting – because even stopping just one is worth it. But sharps are different. you can't stop them, AND, by trying, you are, IMHO, actually increasing the danger on a p lane. You increase danger by taking resources away from stopping greater and more likely threats.

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saw September 3, 2009 at 1:48 am

Demotage,

I understand the point you're trying to make about where to put your resources – but I guess I just don't agree with you on the way you're minimizing the impact of containing sharp objects.

On a lot of flights, once the plain is airborne, it could be many hours before it reaches somewhere it can land – trans-pacific flights are a great example.

Taking terrorists OUT of the equation – let's look at your average psychopath. If he (or she) stabs or cuts someone badly on a plane, medical attention could be minimal and a lot of harm could be done. If we can prevent people from bringing on board items that could hurt other people, we're doing good – regardless of whether the plane is the target, or someone on it.

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Demotage September 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

I see you point too – so let's go beat some horse that still has some life in it. 😉

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saw September 4, 2009 at 3:50 am

How about Ryan Seacrest?

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xxx March 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm

this site is called flights from hell, not moron comment wars

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