The TSA Doesn’t Dig The Macbook Air

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The TSA is the federal agency that supposedly keeps airports safe. It prevents bombs, firearms, knives, brass knuckles and all sorts of evil objects and people from boarding flights. Yet they were puzzled by the new Macbook Air:

I’m standing, watching my laptop on the table, listening to security clucking just behind me. “There’s no drive,” one says. “And no ports on the back. It has a couple of lines where the drive should be,” she continues.

A younger agent, joins the crew. I must now be occupying ten, perhaps twenty, percent of the security force. At this checkpoint anyway. There are three score more at the other five checkpoints. The new arrival looks at the printouts from x-ray, looks at my laptop sitting small and alone. He tells the others that it is a real laptop, not a “device”. That it has a solid-state drive instead of a hard disc. They don’t know what he means. He tries again, “Instead of a spinning disc, it keeps everything in flash memory.” Still no good. “Like the memory card in a digital camera.” He points to the x-ray, “Here. That’s what it uses instead of a hard drive.”

The senior agent hasn’t been trained for technological change. New products on the market? They haven’t been TSA approved. Probably shouldn’t be permitted. He requires me to open the “device” and run a program. I do, and despite his inclination, the lead agent decides to release me and my troublesome laptop. My flight is long gone now, so I head for the service center to get rebooked.

Oh heroic TSA agents, may you keep our homeland secure from all evils present and future. May your vigilant, Orwellian and totalitarian eyes look after us poor frightened citizens forever and ever. And while you’re at it, read some technology blogs and leave us alone.

8:28 pm on March 8, 2008