Brad Feld

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Travel Is Good For the Toothpaste Industry

Oct 18, 2006
Category Random

I finally had my bizarre TSA / toothpaste confiscation experience.  It was bound to happen – I’m just surprised it took this long.

Yesterday I went through security at DIA.  Like a good little traveller, I had put my toothbrush, toothpaste, and bacitracin (for the cut on my knee that is still healing) in a small ziplock bag.  I took the ziplock bag out of my carry on bag and put it in the grey storage tub, along with the contents of my pockets, my shoes, my laptop, my spare laptop battery, and my coat (ok – it was three tubs.)  The person behind me bumped me and pushed my stuff forward as he was trying to undress and get all his paraphernalia into a tub.

I went through the metal detector and got a polite wave from the TSA screener.  I then stood and waited for my bags (and tubs).  And waited.  And waited. 

Eventually, the TSA guy came over holding my little ziplock bag.  He asked if it was mine.  I said “yup.”  He said “your toothpaste container is 4 oz.”  It was a Tom’s of Maine plastic see through container and it was obvious that it was less than half full.  I responded “yes – but there’s not 3 oz of liquid in there – my guess is there is less than 2 oz.”  The nice TSA man responded “I’m sorry – but if the container is larger than 3 oz, it’s not permitted.” 

While I was a little baffled, I was cutting it close and didn’t really feel like arguing.  So – I shrugged.  My TSA friend then said “if you’d like, we can mail it to you.”  I responded that I thought this was a poor use of taxpayer dollars and he should feel free to either take it home with him or throw it away.

At my hotel (The W in Seattle), I asked them if they had any toothpaste.  I now have a very nice micro-toothpaste tube (1 oz) that I expect I’ll have no trouble smuggling onto the plane later today.