Imagine this: You’ve just finished a breathtaking trip to Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland’s latest Star Wars-themed park in Anaheim, California.
You’ve loaded your suitcase with Stars Wars souvenirs — R2D2 headbands, a bucket of mouse droid popcorn, Jedi food capsules and plenty of plush characters from the movies.
You’re at the airport, about to check your bag. Then, you realize there’s a problem.
Your favorite souvenirs — a set of thermal detonator-themed Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite bottles — aren’t allowed, the person at the bag-checking counter says.
Of everything STAR WARS-related in 2019, the thing I’m most excited for is Galaxy’s Edge.
I want to build my own R2 unit, dammit! And I want to drink Diet Coke out of a thermal detonator! pic.twitter.com/eUfOCcpGvA
— Blake Northcott (@BlakeNorthcott) August 26, 2019
“Why not,” you ask, incredulously. “They’re freaking Coke bottles!”
But it’s to no avail. You’re forced to throw out your detonator bottles, and you board your flight crestfallen.
So who’s to blame for this egregious violation of your inalienable right to carry a few soda bottles across the country with you?
Three words: the Transportation Security Administration.
Earlier this month, a person tagged the “AskTSA” Twitter account and asked if the thermal detonator-themed bottles were allowed in suitcases.
Thanks for asking! Replica and inert explosives aren’t allowed in either carry-on or checked bags.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) August 13, 2019
“Thanks for asking! Replica and inert explosives aren’t allowed in either carry-on or checked bags,” the TSA replied.
It’s disappointing, but it’s not all that surprising.
In the “Star Wars” films, “Thermal detonators are grenade-like weapons that pack tremendous explosive power into a small sphere and are used by bounty hunters and military forces such as the Empire’s stormtroopers,” according to StarWars.com.
In real life, thermal detonators are — well, they’re nothing, because there’s no such thing. Still, the toys apparently look enough like actual grenades that the TSA won’t allow them on flights.
So what about if a traveler packs the thermal detonator Coke bottle in their bag after taking the dodgy-looking lid off?
Still no, the TSA says.
Even with a normal bottle cap, this item is still considered a replica and is not allowed in carry-on or checked bags. If our officers discover a replica item during screening and believes it’s real, the item will be treated as such until advised otherwise by law enforcement.
— AskTSA (@AskTSA) August 28, 2019
“Even with a normal bottle cap, this item is still considered a replica and is not allowed in carry-on or checked bags,” the agency tweeted. “If our officers discover a replica item during screening and believes it’s real, the item will be treated as such until advised otherwise by law enforcement.”
TSA spokesman Jim Gregory further explained to The Orange County Register that the coke bottles are banned because “it could create concern that it’s the real thing.”
Lest one think that the TSA has an anti-Star Wars bias, it’s worth noting that the agency is simply not a fan of any sorts of toys or keepsakes that look like weapons, even if its a toy a 5-year-old might play with.
Speaking of toys that 5-year-olds play with, the TSA once confiscated a pink, plastic, dinosaur-shaped hand grenade toy. Likewise, they seized some poor passenger’s bullet-shaped whiskey stones, which are normally used to chill drinks, not to shoot at people.
While the TSA continues its crusade against replicas of weapons that clearly aren’t real, it’s not clear the agency is even able to recognize legitimate threats.
In fact, the TSA actually has a pretty awful track record when it comes to identifying real weapons.
And in November 2017, another investigation revealed that TSA agents were still failing to identify test weapons at a high rate.
This time, the failure rate was “in the ballpark” of 80 percent, a source told ABC News at the time.
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