TSA Agitated For Lifting Of Lighter Ban For Over A Year

The lighter ban’s lifting bodes well for the TSA become slightly less a giant waste of time and money, but did you know that they’ve actually wanted this for some time? In June, 2006, TSA chief Kip Hawley was quoted in USA Today as saying:

  • “The lighter ban does not add to security anymore…”

  • “[Forcing screeners to confiscate lighters at checkpoints] is a distraction from the serious nature of finding (bomb) components.”
  • “[screeners are] spending time hunting through bags looking for items that are not the serious threat.”
  • “[lighters] do not represent a particularly effective ignition source for terrorists…”

In this case, don’t blame the TSA, blame your reactionary members of Congress who just wanted to look tough in the face of terrorism.

TSA Wants Airline Lighter Ban Snuffed
Cigarette Lighters To Be Allowed Back On Airplanes


Edit Your Comment

  1. Pelagius says:

    Vials of flammable liquid are ok, but my water is still a security threat? Kip Hawley truly is a fucking idiot.

  2. HeyThereKiller says:

    Am I mistaken or did Meg post this a few hours ago…

  3. @HeyThereKiller: Maybe the site is eating entire posts now instead of just comments.

  4. mopar_man says:


    Yes she did.

  5. @HeyThereKiller:
    Yeah, it’s not just a dupe, but a dupe of a story that’s still on the front page! Kind of like they do on Slashdot.

    New story: “Consumerist bought by VA Linux Systems, to be renamed Consumerdot.”

  6. bilge says:

    Richard Reid. Go NYT!

  7. acambras says:


    I agree. You’ve summed it up well.

  8. B says:

    @Pelagius: As long as it’s less than three ounces of lighter fluid.

  9. Xenuite says:

    For all we know he is against the fluid ban too, but doesn’t speak out publicly against it. Remember that with quite a few administrators their jobs are on the line whenever they open their mouth. I’m surprised anyone could get this much out of him.

  10. banned says:

    “In this case, don’t blame the TSA, blame your reactionary members of Congress who just wanted to look tough in the face of terrorism.”

    Always blame Congress

  11. iamgibson says:

    I do not smoke but do we have to put our lgihters in a plastic quart size bag and declare I have a lighter that is not a prohibited item. how asinine is our system.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    Screw TSA. If the head of TSA thinks a policy is wrong and detracts from their job of efficiently protecting America, he must either convince the stupid Republicans that they’re wrong (granted, difficult since they’re not reality-based but are solely moved by God or king (err, unitary Executive)) or resign.

    To do anything else is unpatriotic and unprofessional. Burn in Hell, freaken hack.

  13. JustAGuy2 says:


    Dems are just as liable here – Tom Daschle was one of the primary drivers for the creation and expansion of TSA.

  14. Wormfather says:

    But seriously, a lighter (unless its the size of a desktop) will not blow up a plane…even if they set it on fire the plane’s not going down.

    If they’ve smuggled a lighter on board to ignite a bomb, well, then I think the lighter is the least of your worries.

  15. LowerHouseMember says:

    @Pelagius: Pretty much said what I came in here to say.

  16. SOhp101 says:

    Everyone knows that the TSA is there to make people feel better, not to actually deter terrorism. They fail at security.

  17. 5cents says:

    Most are missing the obvious point. This is 2007 not a looney tunes cartoon. Nobody lights a bomb with matches or lighters anymore. They’re also not round, colored black or with a cutesy little fuse line.

    If they were, Bugs Bunny or Roadrunner would probably be the most effective deterrent.

  18. roche says:

    They spend 4,000,000 dollars a year just to throw away lighters?

  19. bilge says:

    Anyone want to buy a no longer needed Colibri Tranzpack?

  20. swalve says:

    A) What I want to know is who thinks it’s a good idea to have the ability to instantly create fire on an aircraft? Seriously. In-air fires are really bad.

    B) The TSA’s job IS to create the illusion of security to both the concerned public and to potential terrorists. Humans are not omniscient- we cannot know what everyone is planning at all times. So there has to be a measure of unpredictability in passenger screening. If a terrorist KNOWS drinking bottles are NEVER checked, then he has found a hole in the system that he can rely on. Similarly, if he KNOWS fluids are ALWAYS checked, he’d be silly to attempt to use that method. Somewhere in the middle, though, is uncertainty. The more uncertainty that can be added to potential terrorists planning, the better.

    Most, if not all, of the complaints (lighters, matches, shoes, liquids) are the result of something that has actually been tried in the past. And we know that people bent on destruction don’t generally just try something once and give up. Isn’t that part of the “terrorist cell” methodology? Try minor parts of the plan over and over until each element of the plan is flawless, and then execute the real plan? In fact, isn’t that the methodology of all non-spontaneous criminals? You know, “hey Bugsy, case the joint?”

    Flying is as safe as it is because of higher security, not in spite of it.

  21. bohemian says:

    I heard the next potential terrorist plot is human spontaneous combustion.

    All people will now be banned from planes.

  22. bbbici says:

    i’d be a lot happier if there were half the security personnel and double the baggage handlers.

  23. Art Vandelay says:

    @swalve: No. You answered your own question. Casing allows you to learn the ‘rules’ of how an operation is run, then you exploit oversight. You don’t continually try the same thing, you try new, unanticipated acts.

    Case in point, the two World Trade Center attacks. The first attempt used truck bombs, but failed to bring the towers down. Did they repeat with trucks? Fuck no. They used planes, something very few people feared/thought of.

    This is why TSA reactive tactics are mostly useless.

  24. Sinflux says:

    My boyfriend and I both smoke, whenever we traveled the TSA would always confiscate his (because it was in his pocket) but never would never take mine (because it was tucked away in my purse). Lazy bastards.

  25. Snockered says:

    This whole thing was ridiculous. I’ve carried a lighter on every flight I’ve taken in the past few years; all you have to do is stick it in your pocket.

  26. Amelie says:

    Matches have always been allowed, so that makes the former lighter ban even more retarded.

  27. @Pelagius: I don’t discount the fact that hes’s an idiot, but the worst you can do with a lighter is give someone a second degree burn. You can’t even begin to damage the entire plane.

    The fluid ban will go the same way once they can have the ban in effect long enough such that removing it can be done with minimal fanfare and won’t seem like backpedaling.

  28. brianbb98 says:

    They arent looking where it matters. I worked in airline catering for a year and I can tell you that if someone was going to do something to a plane, they would do it from the inside. As an employee I saw how easy it would have been to sneak anything on a plane.

    Bans such as this only hurt law abiding citizens.

    But what can you do…

  29. Ben Popken says:

    Andrew writes:

    “If you read the Times story, the ban has -not- been lifted, the TSA has
    decided to “stop enforcing” it. Meaning, it can be reinstated at any time
    and there’s no need to admit what a dumb idea it was in the first place.”

  30. TechnoDestructo says:

    When I went into the parking office at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks to get my decal fall semester 2001, I noticed the usual boxes of razor blades they had on the counters (for removing old decals) before were gone.

    I asked why, and was told it was because someone had complained about it because of 9/11.

    We in the US are allowing ourselves to be controlled by the whims and fears of every sniveling coward among us.

  31. MrEvil says:

    Mind you it really isn’t the TSA making the rules. It’s the Department of Homeland dumbasses that make these retarded rules. There was a former colonel with the Brittish military who publicly stated that Terrorists could not have easily carted Liquid explosives onboard an aircraft….at least not as easily as the DHS says they could.

    Mind you there’s not that much Butane in a disposable lighter, and Butane doesn’t burn very hot to begin with. The most Mythbusters could get out of a single lighter was a pretty good fireball when they struck one with a golf club.

    The terrorists have already won. Their goal is to keep us scared shitless 24/7/365, not to kill us all or convert us to Islam. They want us to think twice about booking that flight. Think twice about checking the mail. Panic when a simple advertisement for the Aqua Teen Hungerforce movie is seen on overpasses. Give up our freedoms in the name of “safety and security” Anything they can do to make our lives as miserable as possible they’ll do.

  32. quiksilver says:

    “[screeners are] spending time hunting through bags looking for items that are not the serious threat.”

    Uh, yeah. Exactly. I want my bottled water back.

  33. quiksilver says:

    @Mr3vil: “Panic when a simple advertisement for the Aqua Teen Hungerforce movie is seen on overpasses. “

    Hahahaha. Perfect!

  34. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    9/11!! 9/11!!! Why do you people hate freedom!!
    The TSA and the gubbamint are the only thing protecting us!!!

    Oh, wait, that’s just an LED image of a Mooninite. Quit staring at my digital dong.

  35. LetLyingDogsSleep says:

    SOHP101 says:

    “Everyone knows that the TSA is there to make people feel better, not to actually deter terrorism. They fail at security.”

    Really? Please tell me how many aircraft have been hijacked or blown out of the sky in the country since the inception of the TSA? The answer, as you know, is NONE. Every bag is now screened, not the random sampling that was done prior to 9-11-01. Sure, it seems stupid to take your water bottle, or your toothpaste, or anything over 3 ounces of liquid. Google “binary explosives” and you’ll see why they do. Also, when you are in line at the checkpoint, you know that YOU are not carrying anything that will blow up an airplane, right? Sure, YOU’RE not going to blow up the airplane. Now tell me, what do you know about the OTHERS getting on your flight?? I hear about passengers complaining to the TSA screeners. Why? They just do as they are told. Think they LIKE taking your lighters, water bottles, containers over 3 ounces? No, because it’s just more crap for them to deal with. But frankly, some people are just too stupid to read and understand the rules, so they go to the checkpoint and are surprised to see that they are going to lose items that are not allowed, according to rules that have been in place for at least a year. Sorry, but that’s stupid. And there is always the Greyhound bus terminal, I hear they don’t have screeners. You whiners might try walking a mile in the screeners shoes before you bitch and cry at them about rules you are too stupid to read. That or take the damned bus. Tell the wino you’re sitting next to for the next 3 days why you hate the TSA.

  36. JustAGuy2 says:


    “Really? Please tell me how many aircraft have been hijacked or blown out of the sky in the country since the inception of the TSA?”

    Also, I have this great rock that keeps away tigers.

    “Google ‘binary explosives’ and you’ll see why they do?”

    What, all the informatio about how binary explosives aren’t a viable threat that my Google search found?


  37. lakai says:

    A few years ago while rushing to my terminal for a international flight, I forgot to put my $600 dupont lighter into my luggage. As I came to the check-point they obviously found it. Yes I know this is my fault, but I asked the guy if I could just let the butane out ( Which would have rendered the lighter temporarily useless until I filled it up again ) but the TSA guy insisted that there was no way I could bring the lighter through. I also noticed the guy was eyeing the lighter and had a tight grip on it as if he just found some treasure. After 5 mins of pleading with the guy to just let me take it, I gave up, and had to bend over for the TSA and take a $600 loss.

    I stood there and watched other TSA from different stations drop cheap disposable lighters into these metal bins ( there were 2 of them ) and dropping them in the left bin.

    Heres the scandalous part. I can see a giant smirk on his face as he went towards the bins, he drops it into the bin on the right. No big deal right ? Except the lighter weighs close to 2 lbs and is made out of metal. So as the lighter dropped, there was a very LOUD “CLANK”. Turns out that this bin was empty (Making easy for him to go back after I leave and swipe it). At this point I was still standing there, extremely pissed. When the guy walked back, I told him that I wanted it back and was going to give it to someone outside the checkpoint. He went back and picked it up and looked more pissed than I was and handed it back to me.

    Knowing I was screwed out of my lighter anyways, I took my lighter and snapped the top off and disassembled what I could and took the parts and handed it back to him. I swear he wanted to hit me. Anyways, I know I didn’t “Stick it to the Man”, and my point isn’t to say that I did, but I was not about to “take it up the a$$” from this jerkoff.