|Peter Quinter, Esq.|
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!
For questions or comments, please contact:
Peter Quinter, Partner, Customs and International Trade Department
firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 270-1864