Since December 2012, I traveled by air to and from California twice, and into the U.S. from the Caribbean once. Same carry-on luggage each time.
When I flew to California from Logan in early April, I took the same carry on luggage -- purse inside of a tote bag, and computer inside roll on bag. Prior to this trip, I noticed some controversial news about the TSA's decision to now allow people to carry knives. Congress wasn't happy about this, and it was up to debate.
With this in mind, I was relaxed. I don't do knives and weaponry. Almost always, I forget about some almost empty bottles of water from my last air flight, and it gets discovered and tossed. But this time, I was pretty sure that all I had inside my purse and roll on computer bag was the same little collection of hotel body lotions and one hotel sample of Hair Conditioner.
I like those little lotion bottles because I have very dry skin, and they fit nicely in my purse. (and they are FREE!) But here was one new addition on this trip...a $75 tube of "thermal accelerating creme" that I got to help smooth out some ripples left by some surgery necessitated by a torn muscle. It wouldn't fit in my overstuffed suitcase that I checked in for $25.
A very zealous inspector pulled me aside after the bags went through the x-ray scanner. I was puzzled...positive that I didn't forget to pull out any water bottles this time. She pulled on her rubber gloves and rifled through my purse and computer bag, pulling out the little hotel samplers. Also, in my purse was my beloved bottle of Green Tea purfume which I am never without. It comes in handy to hide the smell of horses after a trip to the barn when I don't have time to shower and change. Which is frequent.
"Oh, please don't throw away my perfume," I pleaded. "That stuff's expensive."
"You're lucky. It's within the weight limit, so I'll put it into this zip lock baggie with the rest of these creams. You know, they announced it while you were in line!" she scolded. "All creams have to be inside a zip lock baggie," and she proceeded to stuff it all in a baggie for me."
Then she pulled out the $75 post-surgery cream. "But this is over the weight limit. You have a choice of going back to the check in counter and checking it in as a piece of luggage, and then you'll have to ocme through the security linen again. It costs $25 for an extra piece of luggage. What do you want to do?"
"Throw it away," I sighed. By now, the tube was at least half empty, and probably would have been within the weight limit, if they had a scale.
"You might consider keeping all these lotions in this baggie for your return trip," she suggested.
Later I thought to myself....if hand creams and such are somehow "suspicious" and possibly hiding explosives, how does putting them in a baggie protect passengers from an explosion? Maybe I don't understand something about the lotions-in-the-baggie rule.
After I got to California, I returned one of the lotions to my purse. Sure enough, my skin got very dry during a day spent visiting a horse farm. I pulled out my lotion and rubbed it on my hands and face. But it didn't feel right. I put my glasses on and realized I had just rubbed some hair conditioner on my skin. It felt kind of sticky and gross.
When I got back to my hotel, I replaced the cream rinse with some body lotion. On the return trip, I just left it in my purse, ready to throw it away at the airport. I forgot. But this time, nobody seemed to care about the body lotion in my purse.
"Those slackers," I chuckled to myself, relieved that I had something for a dry skin attack on the plane. And I wondered why my skin cream was considered more dangerous than a knife. But I'm happy for the TSA workers that they have a job. And, hopefully, they enjoy good health care benefits, too.