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Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:24 pm
by rickseiden
Does anyone have any experience traveling by plane with an R-Pi in the US? I'm curious to know what the TSA thinks of the R-Pi, especially when it's in a clear custom case of some sort. Do they look at it and think "That can't be good, gotta confiscate it," or do you just leave it in your bag and hope for the best?

Mine finally comes Friday, and I have to travel on business next week. I don't want to leave it home, but I don't want to risk losing it so soon!

Thanks
Rick

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:29 pm
by secretagent
I've gone through TSA (coming from outside of the USA) with dozens of custom made boards in my carry-on without a problem. Sometimes they ask what are they going to be used for but that's it. It is good to have as much documentation as possible. If you have the descriptions sheets that came with the Pi you can carry them with you. If not, you can print something official looking.

In case you are thinking of using it in the plane, I would not recommend it if the board is visible. There is something about visible circuit boards with flashing lights connected to a laptop that makes people on the plane nervous. But if it is in a non-clear case then that should be fine too.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:55 pm
by Jim Manley
They used to ask to see laptop computers turned on and booting or coming out of hibernation or sleep modes. Now, thinner tablets like the iPad don't even need to be taken out of whatever bag in which they might be carried. So, having a Pi-top lapdock to use to display a Pi booting up might keep an over-zealous, undertrained newbie TSA screener from separating you from your Pi. Or, you could haul an HDMI monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc., along with you, but, they probably would have to take you into the infamous Back Room where they would search you to find a "socket" to plug everything into for power, "methane" in this case, I guess! :D

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 7:59 pm
by Hexxeh
I travelled into the US with three Pis without much issue. I also took my Berrybook (lapdock modified to dock a Pi directly) to DEF CON and TSA in SFO and LAS didn't care about it at all. You should be fine.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 8:31 pm
by SN
Jim Manley wrote:They used to ask to see laptop computers turned on and booting or coming out of hibernation or sleep modes.
yes but that was because their scanners couldn't tell the difference between laptop batteries and a block of semtex
10 years back you needed to be sure you had some juice in your laptop when you travelled otherwise you could be in trouble...

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 9:37 pm
by liz
I've been through US security more than a dozen times with Raspberry Pis (sometimes one, sometimes several) in my hand luggage - most recently last week, and I'll be doing it again on Saturday. I've never had any trouble at all.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 10:42 pm
by rickseiden
Thank you all for your answers. Mine comes tomorrow, then I go camping on Friday and Saturday, and a business trip Monday. I'll have plenty of time in the hotel to play with it. Can't wait!

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:08 am
by Jim Manley
I had my 15-watt soldering iron confiscated in Chicago and when I offered to leave the sharp chisel and point tips behind so that I could take the iron, they said, "Oh, those tips are fine, but, the part that plugs in can't go." I asked whether they thought I was going to take it into the plane's lavatory, plug it into the non-functional electric razor power outlet, and then come out threatening to brand someone in the seconds before it cooled off. When the agents gave each other the "Prepare The Back Room" look, I shut up and left it behind, only grumbling loudly after I was out of earshot of the security area.

On another trip, I had a large number of very small Z scale model railroad locos (each as small as an inch/25.4 mm long), rolling stock cars, and their digital command control (DCC) power pack, controllers, associated wiring, track, etc., they wanted me to take it out and show it running ... not because they thought it was a security risk, but, because they were model railroaders and wanted me to prove that something that small could actually run! :D

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:01 am
by Vindicator
When I was working as a weapons technician for the Army they would not give my tool bag a second look when it clearly stated that it may have ammunition or explosives residue but lord forbid if you had a nail file.
BTW Silicon lubricants that are used for weapons also did spark them once even though my orders clearly stated that I would have such compounds and that they were government property, my one and only trip to the backroom while I tried to decipher the orders to a new TSA agent and convince them that I was not a terrorist, their supervisor finally appeared and informed them that my government clearance was higher than theirs and to let go on my way just minutes before my flight and then my tool bag did not get to me till the next day.
Never had a problem about my laptops/(one was mine one was the Armies)router/etc that I always carried to my missions.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:41 am
by stevech
as one with 2.5 million miles on one airline, and lots on others...
TSA scrutiny varies greatly, as it should. You never know what to expect.
Some generalities w.r.t electronics and related, where these are pretty consistent:
Boxes/metal that their X-Ray cannot see through will cost you a half hour.
Screwdrivers, box cutters, and the like: 15 minutes and forfeiture.
Liquids must be in plain view and less than 3oz.

I've carried tool kits aboard - they just open, sniff with residue checkers. Again, no hand tool type things. I have gotten on with a soldering iron.

A few, and increasingly more, airports use private contractors rather than TSA. Pre-9/11 it was all private contractors. It was absurd then: these were less than minimum wage dolts who could care less about security and whose I.Q. was about the same as my belt size. I may be in the minority, and old, but TSA is doing 1000% better than these contractors. But TSA costs a fortune. And the US is quickly reverting to this again, though with, at least for now, TSA supervisors.

My favorite story: I was carrying a 2 cu. ft. sized card cage. Looked bad on X-ray. So for safety, they took it away from me an stowed in in a bin in the cockpit. (!)

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:22 am
by liz
I *did* have some tweezers confiscated once.

I have yet to meet the person who could hold up an aeroplane with tweezers. "Land in Dubai, or I'll PLUCK YOU TO DEATH."

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:24 am
by Jim Manley
liz wrote:"Land in Dubai, or I'll PLUCK YOU TO DEATH."
Oh, geez, there are so many jokes I could make about airlines and being "plucked" that I oughtta just go to bed right now, but, I'm not sleepy, yet - punchy, yes, but, not sleepy! :lol:

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:44 am
by W. H. Heydt
Back, long before security was an issue at airport, a fellow I knew used--occasionally--to travel with 14th century "Running Wolf" sword. He used to manage to be the first one up the ramp, where he would had it to the stewardess there to greet all the boarding passengers. He would hand her the sword and say, "This is a valuable antique. Please put it in the crew locker for safe keeping." At that point, the stewardess was stuck greeting all the other passengers with about 3 feet of live steel in her hand....

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:53 pm
by Jim Manley
W. H. Heydt wrote:At that point, the stewardess was stuck greeting all the other passengers with about 3 feet of live steel in her hand....
Oh, I have just got to figure out how to do that ... after taking out the air marshal - oh, wait, he/she (surprise, surprise) will still be standing in line to get something at the only place in the world where the closest Starbucks is at least a mile of airport concourses away. So, that just means getting past the TSA screening folks - that's easy, when I take off my shoes ... :D

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 8:23 pm
by teh_orph
I had no trouble taking mine in hand luggage to the US. I even programmed it up there at 36000 with it on display! I did see a lady get her apples confiscated though (and she thanked the guy with the sniffer dog too, weird).

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:56 am
by CCitizenTO
Best way to deal with TSA crap...

Just mail anything that they would confinscate to your destination ahead of time by FedEx or something.

Some people even mail their baggage this way so it doesnt get lost. It's also probably cheaper than some airlines baggage fees.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:39 am
by Vindicator
CCitizenTO wrote:Best way to deal with TSA crap...

Some people even mail their baggage this way so it does not get lost. It's also probably cheaper than some airlines baggage fees.
The team resorted to this solution since 10 tool bags and Gage sets and manuals was costing near $1000 (extra bag fee's overweight charges etc.) a trip and this was just a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, FedEx was always less than half and the equipment usually beat us home by sending it FedEx.
The pallet weighed approximately 450 Lbs and we could take gear we previously had to leave behind because of the fee's
Let's hope our Raspi's do not make some kind of terror list :lol:

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 3:47 pm
by CCitizenTO
Exactly... AND you know some idiot in baggage handling wont accidentally pack your luggage on a plane to India when you're going to Australia or something equally stupid ;)

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:25 pm
by Jim Manley
CCitizenTO wrote:Exactly... AND you know some idiot in baggage handling wont accidentally pack your luggage on a plane to India when you're going to Australia or something equally stupid ;)
About 15 years ago, I flew to Miami from California via a connection in Dallas, then drove to a conference in Key West after discovering my bags and all of my clothes didn't make it to Miami. I wound up having to buy and wear the worst tourist T-shirts and shorts to the conference because that's all they sell there, as locals buy decent clothes only when they make the trek to Miami area stores where prices and selection are reasonable. The airline finally found my bags ... in Rio de Janeiro! They were ultimately delivered to my hotel the day I was leaving and to this day, those bags still get better seating and service than I do with all of the extra flight miles they racked up on that trip! :x

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 4:43 pm
by twocvbloke
Vindicator wrote:Let's hope our Raspi's do not make some kind of terror list :lol:
Shhh!!! Don't give Bill gates or Ghost of Steve Jobs any ideas!!!! :o

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:24 pm
by tech_monkey
Having travelled extensively over the years. In one year I lost my luggage 7 times. Always got it back though. And one time Iberia phoned me up to say they couldn't locate my luggage and here is the compensations codes for my insurance company etc. About 15 minutes later there is a knock at the door. Its Iberia with my luggage.
Having taken all sorts of eletronical boxes some with the words arm, disarm and fire on them. One box even had a red flip up cover over the manual fire button. Never had a real problem and most of the time I just had to explain what I did. And I always had a small forest's worth of paper work. Quite often several copies just in case.
Though did get 8 AA bateries confiscated at New Orleans airport. The woman said I wasn't allowed that many in my hand luggage.
For those who are wondering I used to work in oil exploration.

Re: Getting past TSA in the USA

Posted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:29 pm
by rickseiden
I completely forgot to come back to this and post my results. Got through both times with no problem. They didn't even ask me to take it out of my computer bag.