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Terrorist Concertina


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I tend to do much more 'lurking' than contributing...but my recent flight out of Philadelphia to New Hampshire forces me to contribute this tid-bit.

 

I have flown with my Eng. concertina countless times....it always stops dead in the center of security's scanner and I always get "what is this?." I reply "it's a concertina...you know, a little squeeze box?" I even go as far as to make the push and pull motion with my hands. "Oh...cool"....and out it comes.

 

This past week things didn't go so well. As usual my box stops in the scanner.....2 TSA folks are standing around gabbing about lunch...the 3rd leans in for a closer look at the mystery before him. A quick glance at me...but no question. He motions for the other 2 to take a look. They lean in, almost touching the screen with their faces. Finally...."what IS this?" I give them the same old answer and hand motions. "Oh". They mumble to each other...one TSA member takes it off the belt and says "we'll have to test this." I ask as I reach for it "do you want me to play a tune?" He says "I'm serious, we need to test this" and he goes to hand it off to the female supervisor. Just as I'm telling them "this is a very expensive instrument please be careful" this stupid b*tch catches the latch and flips the case open almost causing the concertina to fall on to the floor.

Now I scream "if you want it open...I'll open it!!" She orders me to follow her to a little private room and places the dangerous box on a table. As she glares at me she takes a long cotton swab...a mystery solution and dabs it all over the handle and latch...then shines a special light on to her handiwork. Now, finally conviced that I'm not Osama O'bin Landen she pushes the case toward me and say "you can go."

 

I am no longer bringing my concertina on an airplace leaving or entering this crazy city of Philadelphia.

Edited by Constant Screamer
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This has been gone over before. It has been suggested in this old thread (scroll down to Theodore Kloba's post at Aug 7 2006, 03:44 PM) that the word "concertina" rings alarm bells with security personnel, especially in the States, because a certain type of barbed wire is known as "concertina wire". Tell them its an accordian.

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I fly quite often, and my routine, is to mention as I am approaching the screener that I have musical instruments coming through. This is my way of answering the rough question of "what" is this?. For anyone that has met me, I look fairly suspicious anyway. Long hair, beard, dark glasses, and often a Guinness T shirt. I have found that being forward and proactive is easier. In the past year I have been through the following airports with concertinas and flutes. Gainesville Fl, Orlando, Jacksonville FL, Ft Lauderdale, Denver, Los Angeles, Jackson Mississippi, Atlanta, Charlotte NC, Shannon, Raleigh Durham, White Plains, JFK, Allentown Pa. I have had 1 somewhat issue in Las Vegas last year. Vegas is a terrible airport for security. Los Angeles was very curious, not difficult. In reality I expect questions form the TSA people when they see an X Ray of a concertina, or 2 side by side in one case. Guitars and banjos, band instruments are fairly common world wide, and most screeners in the US have had some personal experience. Years ago flying through JFK A screener looked at the case, and asked what is it? I said uilleann pipes. The next question was who made your set?

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A screener looked at the case, and asked what is it? I said uilleann pipes. The next question was who made your set?

 

LOL. I was going to say, look for the security checkpoint lineup with the Irish-born attendant. A few years ago at Heathrow, a security person asked me if I wouldn't mind coming to one side and walking through a new detector system they were testing, along with my hand luggage. When I explained I had a small accordion in my bag and opened it enough to show him a bit of it he smiled and said, with a nice western lilt, "I know what that is. None of my collegues would, though."

 

Anyway I think Lawrence's tip of letting them know what you have in advance is a very good one.

Edited by ZiziAllaire
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Years ago flying through JFK A screener looked at the case, and asked what is it? I said uilleann pipes. The next question was who made your set?

I had a rather similar experience coming through Luton Airport some years ago, with an 8-keyed flute in my bag - when it was x-rayed I wasn't asked what it was, but "who made it?" :rolleyes:

 

Mind you, Luton does have a large Irish population, and two Comhaltas branches...

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Anyway I think Lawrence's tip of letting them know what you have in advance is a very good one.

+1 for that. If you get the chance, have a look at the scanner yourself. An X-ray of a concertina is a very strange looking beast.

 

Newcastle airport is another where you never have problems taking a tina through. I think this must be due to Ali Anderson ...

 

Chris

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I fly in and out of Philadelphia Airport several times a year, usually with my concertina. I follow a suggestion made several times in this forum. I announce to the screener that, "A small accordion is coming through." This almost always works to get it through first pass. In fact I usually get friendly comments about music.

 

I have been told, more than once, that the concertina looks very weird on the x-ray screen, but knowing that it is going to look mechanical makes it less scary. Once the Philadelphia screener did not hear my warning, and they eventually swabbed the inside of the case. On another occasion, they opened it up to look at it, mainly out of curiosity I guess.

 

I think, however, that Constant Screamer and I both made the same, almost unavoidable, error when we got swabbed. We displayed too much alarm over their handling of the box, and made things worse by offering to open it ourselves. If they are even slightly concerned, a passenger demanding to touch the object in question is going to make it worse.

 

The second time it got extra attention, I forced myself (and it took force) to let them deal with the box as they wanted without displaying any sign of worry. I did -calmly- mention, while they were carrying it to the side, that it was a old musical instrument with lots of mechanical parts that probably did look strange in x-ray They treated it very carefully, and asked if they could take it out of the case. I said, "yes, but please try not to force it." They did not take it out. In retrospect, I was very lucky not to have given the normal concertina instruction, "Don't pull it open without pushing a button." I bet "Don't push a button" is pretty much the first thing they learn on the job.

 

I think that if I were traveling through airport security a lot, I would consider taping a button down just in case. I do believe that the most important thing to do, no matter how difficult, is not to openly display how concerned I am about the instrument inside the case. Fixing a valve is easier than replacing a bellows. I just try to hope that they are professional enough to be careful. I figure that it is in their natural interest to treat the things they find carefully, and that the only reason not to be gentle is old fashioned meanness. If they are not going to be professional, making a fuss is only going to place the concertina in greater jeopardy. Remember the line from the fiddle tune, "If you want your finger bit, poke it at a possum."

 

I wonder if a clear plastic case would help?

 

Dan Madden

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I fly in and out of Philadelphia Airport several times a year, usually with my concertina. I follow a suggestion made several times in this forum. I announce to the screener that, "A small accordion is coming through." This almost always works to get it through first pass. In fact I usually get friendly comments about music.

 

Dan Madden

 

This is exactly what I do, and I make sure they hear me as I place it on the x-ray conveyor. I have never had my 'tina swabbed in the U.S., but I never fly with my best or oldest box anyway. I take my trusty Morse.

 

I did have a Questar telescope swabbed at Pittsburgh two years ago but they were very nice and careful, and even knew what a quality 'scope it was and also about the transit of Mercury I was traveling to observe out west (where it is never cloudy).

 

Ken

resident of a very cloudy place

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Just a suggestion. Lay it on it's side, and not with the buttons on top. It makes it look a little more obvious to their television trained mind that it's not a mix of random wires and who knows what.

 

This ought to make your day. An explaination of the process: http://www.secure-skies.org/explosivedetection.php

Not a very reliable technique, but relax and enjoy. It's all part of the show, and it's only a show.

 

Now let me get this straight; If I am going to do a nasty deed on an airplane, and carry something through security screening, then don't you think I would know how to handle it safely? Now comes a screener who suspects that there is something wrong with my carryon box, would want to open it not knowing if there is a device set on the latch, or lid to set it off? Not too bright in my eyes. I would at least let them open it themselves so I could inspect it further. But that argument was lost a few years ago. :blink:

 

What really drives them up a wall, is explaining that the residue they found is from legitimate cartridge reloading pistol and shotgun shells for competition, and the burnt residue from is actually shooting guns for fun. It takes a while for it to get out of the pores in my hand.

 

Thanks

Leo

Edited by Leo
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Now let me get this straight; If I am going to do a nasty deed on an airplane, and carry something through security screening, then don't you think I would know how to handle it safely? Now comes a screener who suspects that there is something wrong with my carryon box, would want to open it not knowing if there is a device set on the latch, or lid to set it off? Not too bright in my eyes. I would at least let them open it themselves so I could inspect it further. But that argument was lost a few years ago. :blink:

And, frankly, it should have been lost.

Let's say you're a fanatic, and the godless infidel pigs (or right-wing fascist pigs, or meat-eating tree-cutting-down pigs, or filthy (insert hated nationality here) pigs) have detected your hidden bomb. But they allow you access to it. What are the odds that you'll detonate the bomb there in the screening area to take as many of the pigs with you into the afterlife as you can, since your primary mission has been blown?

 

If a screener suspects something, then the SOP is to prevent access to the suspicious item until it can be evaluated. That's just common sense.

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How about wearing a Concertina definition T-shirt when you go through????

:lol: Well it may be a better option than the T-shirt I bought in Seattle, which might not go down so well:

 

HomelandSecurity.jpg

 

... my routine, is to mention as I am approaching the screener that I have musical instruments coming through. This is my way of answering the rough question of "what" is this?.
Just a suggestion. Lay it on it's side, and not with the buttons on top. It makes it look a little more obvious to their television trained mind that it's not a mix of random wires and who knows what.

I'd usually try and do both, though sometimes the screener on the belt will turn the case the "wrong" way before it gets X-rayed, so it looks suspect :rolleyes: .

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"Terrorist Concertina" - now theres a tautology

 

 

Imagine the restoration cost after the bomb squad leaves.

 

 

 

(edited to correct English use error: I had said "oxymoron" but that only relates to two things which are opposite, whereas the topic here is actaully stating an obvious rerlationship.)

Edited by Hooves
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In reading through the above posts I'm thinking it may be a good idea to loosen the concertina end bolts before going to the airport. Clumsy handling by security will not damage the bellows and the HISSSS from the concertina may be the only polite way to express our feelings.

 

Sometimes we forget they are doing a job and it is one we will all be greatful for if it saves lives.

 

Greg

 

PS. I've had the inside of my case swabbed. I've watched inexperienced hands try and lift the instrument out. Tough to stay cool and collected.

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In reading through the above posts I'm thinking it may be a good idea to loosen the concertina end bolts before going to the airport. Clumsy handling by security will not damage the bellows and the HISSSS from the concertina may be the only polite way to express our feelings.

 

Sometimes we forget they are doing a job and it is one we will all be greatful for if it saves lives.

 

Greg

 

PS. I've had the inside of my case swabbed. I've watched inexperienced hands try and lift the instrument out. Tough to stay cool and collected.

So they see unusual bomb looking object.

They reach in and try to lift the bomb out of it's "case"???

What are they expecting? What if it'll detonate right there?

They should stop the screening, send people out of harms way, call sappers, apprehend you, delay the flight.

If they try to lift the "bomb" out of it's case to swab for explosives before asking questions - they are not doing any job whatsoever.

Once we carried through big sharp plastic knife ( I totally forgot about it). They saw the knife, but let it through. But threw away baby's plastic bottle with water and juice.

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