Bicycle and airport security

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Tbgibb, Sep 8, 2003.

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  1. Tbgibb

    Tbgibb Guest

    My wife and I recently traveled by air with our bikes. Both have S&S couplings and are almost
    identical. The components are somewhat different but the biggest difference between them is that
    hers has a Terry Butterfly saddle and mine has a Brooks B-17. In the Philladelphia airport mine was
    tagged for some additional search. The additional search that we saw involved wiping down the
    handles and analysing the pad with which they did the wiping (gas chromatograph? mass spec?). After
    it apparently passed that test an additional sticker was put on and the case went on the belt to (I
    thought) head for the plane. When we got home I found that the zip tie that I had put on the lock
    hasp on the case was gone (while my wife's case still had it's zip tie). The bike did not appear to
    have been repacked but I suspect that it was opened. I have a large note inside asking to please
    have me paged if it is necessary to remove the contents so I can supervise the re-packing, but I was
    not paged.

    Since we have been warned that food can produce a false positive in the explosive detection
    equipment I wonder if the oils in the Brooks saddle might do the same thing. Does anyone have any
    knowledge of this?

    I had no containers of oil or grease in either case and my chain is "drier" than hers. I do have to
    remove my right side crank, exposing some grease on the taper, but most grease was wiped off.

    I want to figure out what might have caused the false alarm so I can avoid having some inspector
    trying to jam the bike back into the case (with or without my input).

    Tom Gibb <[email protected]
     
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  2. Fred Roses

    Fred Roses Guest

    [email protected] (TBGibb) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    >
    <snip>
    >
    > I want to figure out what might have caused the false alarm so I can avoid having some inspector
    > trying to jam the bike back into the case (with or without my input).

    My B17-saddled S&S bike just travelled from Boston to Dublin to Galway to Frankfurt to Tokyo to Hong
    Kong to Las Vegas to Providence...whew! It was well-lubed and the box contained both Prolink and a
    tube of Phils. It was opened only one time - in Galway - and the inspector seemed only concerned
    about CO2 inflators. In Tokyo the inspector asked me if I had deflated the tires (I have read that
    the hazard of inflated tires is an old myth).

    I believe there is a lot variation in inspections from person to person and airport to airport, and
    I'd bet your inspection was just the luck of the draw. For me it went smoothly, quite a relief as I
    did dread the prospect of constant inspections, as anybody would who knows how tightly the bike fits
    into the hard-case. By the way, I have found that it's *much* easier to repack the bike successfully
    if you remove the tire from the top wheel. Hope this is helpful...

    Fred
     
  3. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] (TBGibb) wrote:

    > I want to figure out what might have caused the false alarm so I can avoid having some inspector
    > trying to jam the bike back into the case (with or without my input).

    Probably your case was chosen as a random sample. Inspection of baggage is SOP since 9/11, but only
    a portion of the bags are examined. Probably any bag which shows hard objects on X-ray such as
    tubes, wires, etc is a candidate (compared to a bag that shows only clothing). Bikes may also
    trigger a specific investigation for CO2 cartridges, volatile substances, etc.

    When I flew to France in August, my bag was inspected and a note to that effect was left inside the
    bag. As well, the zipper pulls had been zip tied shut by the inspector.
     
  4. > I want to figure out what might have caused the false alarm so I can avoid having some inspector
    > trying to jam the bike back into the case (with or without my input).

    I spent quite a bit of time at CDG (Paris) airport on the way home from the TDF, and trust me, there
    was *no* rhyme or reason to why they'd choose to inspect one bike closely and not another. My bike
    had probably the largest case of any there, and thus (I'd think) the easiest to hide something in,
    and yet it wasn't opened up in either direction.

    And, as in your situation, I saw couples with identical bike cases, only one of which was subject
    to an extraordinarily-thorough search (the sort where you'd be much less embarrassed had you
    washed your cycling clothing before coming home). Mind you, this was done out in the open, in
    front of everyone. Trust me, for some people they'd have been better off if it had been done out
    of sight! :>)

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com

    "TBGibb" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > My wife and I recently traveled by air with our bikes. Both have S&S
    couplings
    > and are almost identical. The components are somewhat different but the biggest difference between
    > them is that hers has a Terry Butterfly saddle
    and
    > mine has a Brooks B-17. In the Philladelphia airport mine was tagged for
    some
    > additional search. The additional search that we saw involved wiping down
    the
    > handles and analysing the pad with which they did the wiping (gas chromatograph? mass spec?).
    > After it apparently passed that test an additional sticker was put on and the case went on the
    > belt to (I thought)
    head
    > for the plane. When we got home I found that the zip tie that I had put
    on the
    > lock hasp on the case was gone (while my wife's case still had it's zip
    tie).
    > The bike did not appear to have been repacked but I suspect that it was
    opened.
    > I have a large note inside asking to please have me paged if it is
    necessary
    > to remove the contents so I can supervise the re-packing, but I was not
    paged.
    >
    >
    > Since we have been warned that food can produce a false positive in the explosive detection
    > equipment I wonder if the oils in the Brooks saddle
    might
    > do the same thing. Does anyone have any knowledge of this?
    >
    > I had no containers of oil or grease in either case and my chain is
    "drier"
    > than hers. I do have to remove my right side crank, exposing some grease
    on
    > the taper, but most grease was wiped off.
    >
    > I want to figure out what might have caused the false alarm so I can avoid having some inspector
    > trying to jam the bike back into the case (with or without my input).
    >
    > Tom Gibb <[email protected]
     
  5. > In Tokyo the inspector asked me if I had deflated the tires (I have read that the hazard of
    > inflated tires is an old myth).

    The main reason for requiring deflated tires is to check for anything that might be hidden in them,
    or at least that's what one security guard told me (and I don't think he was the sort that had any
    idea there would be an issue from pressure changes).

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com
     
  6. Mike Jacoubowsky <[email protected]> wrote:
    >The main reason for requiring deflated tires is to check for anything that might be hidden in them,
    >or at least that's what one security guard told me

    I suspect he made that up - consider how much stuff you could hide in the rim bed, inside the
    seatpost, inside the handlebars as recommended by Richard Ballantine...
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
  7. > I suspect he made that up - consider how much stuff you could hide in the rim bed, inside the
    > seatpost, inside the handlebars as recommended by Richard Ballantine...

    They *did* check handlebars. They had some clue as to what a bike was; I got the idea they have
    people whose main job is to harass people with bikes.

    --Mike-- Chain Reaction Bicycles http://www.ChainReactionBicycles.com

    "David Damerell" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:+aD*[email protected]...
    > Mike Jacoubowsky <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >The main reason for requiring deflated tires is to check for anything
    that
    > >might be hidden in them, or at least that's what one security guard told
    me
    >
    > I suspect he made that up - consider how much stuff you could hide in the rim bed, inside the
    > seatpost, inside the handlebars as recommended by Richard Ballantine...
    > --
    > David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
  8. Mike Jacoubowsky <[email protected]> wrote:
    >>I suspect he made that up - consider how much stuff you could hide in the rim bed, inside the
    >>seatpost, inside the handlebars as recommended by Richard Ballantine...
    >They *did* check handlebars.

    Yes; I wouldn't pick the handlebars, given that it's been so publicly recommended. I think the best
    place to smuggle something inside a bike would be somewhere that required complicated reassembly
    afterwards - how about in the BB shell with a cup-and-cone bottom bracket assembly?
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
  9. Good question. Leather is an "organic" material. It is possible it (or the oil/proofide) set
    something off.

    Then again. it may have just been selected in a standard "random" search.

    May you have the wind at your back. And a really low gear for the hills! Chris

    Chris'Z Corner "The Website for the Common Bicyclist": http://www.geocities.com/czcorner
     
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