Is this plane going to the US? No printer cartridges allowed -- gotta protect America.

Is this plane going to the US? TSA says no printer cartridges allowed -- gotta protect America.

I am angry and frustrated at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) right now. In classic form they have once again over-reacted in an idiotic fashion. I am not saying the recent mailing of bombs in printer cartridges across the world is not serious, but it demands real solutions, not knee-jerk reactions.

In a statement released by the DHS, they state that they are banning all cargo from Yeman. Okay, this makes sense. It is not like we have a lot of imported goods coming from Yemen. However, they are also banning cargo from Somalia. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some intelligence that we do not know about. The release also states, “No high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft.” Okay, so far I am actually with the TSA here. Banning dangerous cargo from certain places in the world until we can figure out the risk actually kind of makes sense.

When reading, I assumed we must be talking about dangerous things like explosives, flammable items and bombs right? Think again. In the next sentence they continue with, “Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States.” Say what?

This is stupid. I hate to call anyone names, but there is just no other way to say it. This no-thought reaction actually makes me feel less safe. This is telling me that the TSA cannot detect a bomb no matter what form it takes. Do they think that terrorist will give up since they can’t figure out anything else to put bombs in? Please. Not that I think there are a heck of a lot of people carrying around large printer cartridges in their baggage, but what’s next?

Since the ban is sort of a shock, you might have missed the part where this is only for flights within and inbound to the United States. So, it is totally fine to fly with a printer cartridge on an airline departing the US, you just can’t bring any back. What sense does that make?

It is easy to ban printer cartridges since they are not common, but what if terrorists start using items that would be difficult to ban? Would the TSA start banning laptops or stuffed animals if terrorists start using them? I wish the TSA would stop wasting time and money with pointless security measures like this. They need to be honest with the public that there is no 100% solution and be smarter about bomb detection. The airline business has seen many good and horrid changes since 9/11. However, in the last nine years 0 Americans have died from terrorism on airlines. Compare that to the about 315,000 Americans who have died in automobile accidents over the same period of time. Some might say that scanning shoes and your toothpaste is related to those 0 deaths, but I say it has more to do with this not being the huge threat the TSA and the media like to play it up to be.

When I got word of this story a few days ago, I tried to contact two different TSA sources, but no one would contact me back (and I was not this snarky). The TSA is proud of their “Talk to the TSA” campaign, but I guess you can only talk to them about stuff they want to talk about. I have tried to get the TSA’s side to things, but they just don’t seem to want to talk, which is greatly disappointing to me. If you are not happy with the body scanners and their crazy knee-jerk reactions, I highly suggest you trying to talk to the TSA. If you get a reply, let me know.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Thank goodness for this well reasoned action. Now terrorists can’t print pictures of weapons onboard. Don’t get me started on the lunacy of the theater that they pass off as security.

Just another reaction in a long line of ridiculous moves by the TSA. Go after the minutia rather than looking at the big picture and getting to the root of the problem. TSA = oxymoron!!

Knee jerk reactions are all they can do without people completely freaking out. Pre 9.11 people would have thought it insane if they banned box cutters or other small knives. A few years ago taking your shoes off or not being able to bring water past the security check point would have been considered crazy. While I agree the potential threat from a printer cartridge is low, now that people know that you can sneak through a liquid explosive undetected in an ink cartridge people will try as a copy cat if there were no ban. As to your question where will they stop? A stuffed animal they can scan and detect any foreign objects, they should stop when there are no viable threats. Also besides potentially needing a quick overnighted printer toner from England I don’t see how this will negatively affect any travelers. I have personally have carried a printer onto a plane before for work and it had at most a 1oz cartridge.


The security is fake. It is not designed to stop a terrorist. Otherwise they would profile people. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that any of this is for your own good, it is not. It is only to give you a false sense of security. The other aspect is that the lawyers are telling them to do this to reduce the chance of a suit when the next terror incident occurs. The way that works is that if they were to use an ink device again, then a bomb got through, the lawyers would have a difficult time in court. Also, it keeps dung from sticking to the politicians. But the whole theater of search is a joke and can easily be subverted by someone who wants to do harm. Do I have an answer, you bet. Get rid of the whole security situation and the next time a bomb goes off bomb the hell out of the country of origin. If it is the US, then put the Muslims away!! They are not a religion but a cult.


The reality is, these things got passed security. The only way they were stopped was because of tips. They (the proverbial “They”) know this. “They” will try again to exploit this.

If you have a better solution, I’m all ears.

As for why out and not in, no one is mailing bombs from inside the US to locations outside of the US. Yet.

I’m surprised TSA didn’t ban shoes and underwear already!

Gosh! Now what am I going to do with all those toner cartridges I like to take with me everywhere? How will I live without them? I mean, everybody takes toner cartridges in their carry-ons, right?

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous prohibitions yet. It’s like saying you can’t bring your horse on board with you anymore, or stick your car in your suitcase. I mean really, how may people bring toner with them while traveling by air?

Hello, David! I found your site trying to track down info about Allegiant Airlines. I’m wanting to take advantage of a free airfree offer to go to Reno, but as a victim of child abuse, I can’t tolerate the notion of the TSA ‘patdown’ (custody search!!) I was hoping Allegiant is small enough that they can bypass the TSA?? I’ve read several of your posts about the TSA. So nice to hear a voice of reason and not a Chicken Little paranoia spiel:) I know you say TSA is not changing, but I’m hoping that this latest round of ‘security’ measures is finally the tipping point that will make Americans aware of exactly how the terrorists ARE winning this war. I’m fighting back by not flying unless I know I can do so unmolested.
Hope you’ll come join us on We Won’t Fly on Facebook.

Hey Trishia,

That is one benefit of flying out of smaller airports, that Allegiant flies out of, is there are no body scanners and I find the TSA to be a bit more laid back.


David, are you familiar with where they are in Portland? Do they share Alaska Airlines space at PDX?

As far as I know all the airlines have to go through TSA security at PDX, except for SeaPort ( As of now PDX does not have bodyscanners.


We are a printer cartridge supplier and you wouldn’t believe the amount of difficulty I had returning a consignment of faulty printer cartridges back to China just recently.

Eventually I scribbled ‘EMPTY CARTRIDGES’ on the box and it was let through. I feel safe in the knowledge now that bombs won’t travel within printer cartridges on planes, unless the terrorist has the foresight to scribble ‘EMPTY CARTRIDGES’ on the box.

It also amazes me that items which are physically identical in both size and shape to a printer cartridge are allowed on a plane, providing they are not actually printer cartridges.

One day someone will pay me to sit in an office and think of such ridiculous knee jerk reactions to incredibly real problems.

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