A federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration says Iowa travelers can help make the skies safer, by paying attention to the TSA rules. Those include one item announced this week, a ban on lighters that’ll go into effect in mid-April. Des Moines TSA chief Jay Brainard says he doesn’t make the rules — the 9-11 Commission recommended the latest change to Congress. You try and weigh the importance of doing something like this to the public, he says, and help them understand that these are necessary steps, these are the times we live in. Brainard’s doing his best to help airports around the state publicize the rules on what can and cannot be carried along. These are items that when you come through the checkpoint you may want to leave the airport and put them in your car or give them to a family member, because if you turn them over to a checkpoint you’ll probably never see them again. Passengers who find themselves relieved of a pocketknife or corkscrew may try to find a business center or parcel-shipping service so they can pack up the banned item and send it back home instead of giving up possession. But, told of a rumor about setting up a chain of kiosks at airports so you could send the confiscated items home to yourself…Brainard says it’s not anything the feds would do. It’s strictly up to the airports, he says, as TSA wouldn’t do that. But he says you couldn’t mail a lighter anyway because it’s considered hazardous material. Postal regulations strictly forbid sending anything hazardous, and they spell out that that rule includes fuel, which would preclude mailing a lighter anywhere. Brainard says passengers should pack smart and travel smart — but sometimes he’s amazed at what they do. “We had a gun come through here a couple weeks ago,” he says, adding they see knight-sticks, machetes and meat cleavers come through the screening line. “You kind of shake your head and wonder what people are thinking.” Brainard says you couldn’t make up some of the things he’s seen. Brainard tells an anecdote about the man who came through the other day with a 12-inch butcher knife; they asked why he had it, and he said he had some sausage he intended to cut up while he traveled on the plane. Some people may genuinely forget some of the rules or what’s in their pockets, but he says “You don’t forget a firearm in your pocket or handbag, you don’t forget a butcher knife,” and it would make his job a lot easier if folks would leave that stuff at home.
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