Turns out, you can take a four-foot sword on an American Airlines plane flying from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Los Angeles. Who knew? Apparently, no one till Annie Jacobsen of the National Review Online got her hand on a federal incident report and interviewed Steve Elson, described in Jacobsen's story as "a former FAA Red Team member who, at the government's behest, used to sneak fake bombs and weapons onto planes."
Jacobsen, author of the optimistically titled book Terror in The Skies: Why 9/11 Could Happen Again, writes that the incident took place earlier this year: Guy gets on a plane, can't get his carry-on luggage into the overhead storage, calls the flight attendant for help, and, next thing ya know, there's a Kurosawa prop poking out of the bin. "The story," writes Jacobsen, "is as absurd as it is horrifying." She adds:
The "gentleman" passenger fortunately wasn't looking to employ his sword, but the fact that such a weapon made it past aviation security warranted a few questions for the TSA. After all, we're talking about a double-edged weapon as tall as my son.
"No comment," TSA spokesman Nico Melendez told me, adding, "Don't know about it" — a handy, unexceptional TSA response."
Jacobsen's book, incidentally, is a pretty terrifying read on the subject of airport and airplane security. I tried reading it once, but it was either that or walk everywhere for the rest of my life. Turns out, being lazy helps you overcome many, many fears. --Robert Wilonsky
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.