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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Where to put it all... » » Avoiding Theft/Damage/Confiscation by TSA when flying (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Darkwing
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Nashville Tn
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Maybe not related, I was in Las Vegas in Jan. 2008. Went to see Mac King. When leaving the theater, I spotted Raymond Crowe in the audience. Got a picture with Mac and Raymond. I put my camera in my bag and checked it in. That was the last I saw my camera. I really hate that because of the pics with Mac and Raymond. Had I not got an autograph from each, no one would have believed I met both.

What a bummer.
martini
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delta, pennsylvania
542 Posts

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Greetings Guys;
This all reminds me of an incident when I traveled to reno a few years back.
In my carry on case I had a 40 minutes of material, believing that if I carry it with me, no chance of it getting lost.

When the bag went through the x-ray machine, I was asked to step aside while they opened the bag and removed my three rings (Locking set by the way) The young lady asked what they were, I explained that they were magicians props, and the trick is called linking rings. Another inspector came over, looked at them carefully, picked up the phone, whispered quietly and then 3 more inspectors came over, each asked the same thing..What are these? I offered to demonstrate the trick to them, but once they were in their hands, as bill said above, I was not allowed to touch them.

Finally a supervisor came down, looked everything over, and said, oh yeah my kid has a set of those only a lot smaller, they are o.k. Finally after 25 minutes, someone with some common sense. But then I said one of those things that you realize at the time is really really stupid, and no matter how much you try not to say it, it just comes out. I said, "Well I'm glad that was settled, it would be pretty stupid to hijack a plane with a set of metal rings, don't you think?"

I learned that day that there are remarks with key words in them that gets you a full strip search, free and compliments of homeland security.

I look back on that now and can laugh, but I do appreciate the security and the fact that they are there doing their job, but sometimes you just have to scratch your head and ask why?. Now everytime I travel to perform, I always ship my act ahead by Fed-Ex so that it arrives two days before I do. That way I can call and be sure it is there before I leave home. The fact that I have two of everything that I use in my act, makes this easy to do and has saved me numerous headaches. Even when the Wife and I go on vacation we carry almost nothing on with us now and we do not check anything in. It is always shipped ahead by Fed-Ex.

Just another tip; If you have an American Express card, you get a discount when you ship Fed-Ex.

All the Best
Marty
disneywld
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Denver, CO
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I have had magnets confiscated in China on two occasions. They claimed that they interfere with navigational systems. On one occasion in China, the female security officer asked me, "Do you have any more magnets?" I replied, "search me," and she did. It was well worth the price of the magnets I lost.

I also had two problems with the Kenedy Box. TSA scanned it in my carry-on and thought I was carrying a razor blade. I tried to let me show them, but they said that I had to stay behind the line and off went the gaff. This happened a second time in my checked luggage.
The Magic of Christopher Manos
www.safetymagicshows.com
disneywld
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Denver, CO
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So Bill,

Do you have any problems with that big metal cup on your head??

Happy Magic!

Chris
The Magic of Christopher Manos
www.safetymagicshows.com
princehal
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Pennsylvania
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I hope we all feel safer...
Chipper Lowell
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Vanish Magazine forum Staff
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I SECOND and THIRD putting a card into your luggage. As a matter of fact, I have BOTH a loose piece of paper AND one which is TAPED to the inside of the lid of my suitcase. I also 'casually' throw in some media one-sheets, brochures, etc., which IMMEDIATELY helps them to realize that I'm a performer even without them reading my information sheets asking them to be careful with the items inside. It really does help, because even if they pick up something they don't understand, their brain is already telling them that it's "some kind of theatrical stage prop".

My info sheet about the contents is written like a letter, all in large print and full of PLEASE and THANK YOU'S. My prop trunk which I also fly with contains a loose piece inside, one taped to the inside lid of the trunk, one taped to the OUTSIDE of the lid, and finally another taped to the INSIDE of the trunk's travel cover which fits down over it. If that weren't enough, the trunk has "THEATER PROPS" printed on it, so there's no confusion AT ALL that the purpose of everything is for performing.

Educating them as much as you can with regards to what you do for a living is the key. I even purposely, as I'm handing my cases over to the TSA guy for x-raying, say, "These are comedy magic props. Please let me know if you have ANY questions." Now, 100% of the time they shoo you away, but at least you've stated your case to them and they now know you're not hiding anything, and are in fact WILLING to physically be there to answer any questions.

Also, my information sheets BOLDLY contain my name, address, email and cell phone number, so again they know I'm not trying to hide. The more you can stop them from thinking terrorist or trouble-maker, the easier it gets. You're basically TEACHING them pure common sense. : )

And even though I've had a 99% success rate in my props arriving along with me at the final destination, I still SWEAT BULLETS each and every time!

Chipper : )
http://www.TheChipperExperience.com
<BR>http://www.blinkshow.com
<BR>email: chipper@chipper.tv
gaddy
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Agent of Chaos
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A Private Irony that I enjoy every time I travel since 9/11/01 is that I am NEVER pulled aside for individual security screening anymore- It used to be, being a "youngish-looking, long-haired, white-guy" I was ALWAYS pulled aside and searched- the implication being ***DRUGS***...

I guess certain priorities have changed, yet I am always amused by this sudden personal reversal of fortune
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
RayBanks
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Nassau Bay, TX
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Once on a trip to the East Coast of FLorida I made a trip to Daytona Magic. I bought some spring snakes and cans for a class I was teaching and put them in my checked bags. At Orlanda you carry your bags with the claim check on them to the TSA gigantic X-ray machines and give them over to TSA. I mentioned that there were some gag snakes in the luggage (Ihad taken them out of the cans), described what they were and everything seemed to go fine.

Leaving Houston once TSA asked me to inspect a small thing I keep some small props and cards in. What they noticed was a magic wand I have that screws together like a pool cue. It was in two parts in order to fit in the case. I showed them the wand and went on to the gate. They told me they thought it coul be a screwdriver or some sort of tool.

Being nice to these guys really does help as has been mentioned before.
-------------
Pick a card, any card...No. not THAT one...THIS one

Ray Banks
ed rhodes
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Rhode Island
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Being nice to people in authority doesn't _always_ work, but it's certainly the way to go!
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2007-03-15 12:48, SpellbinderEntertainment wrote:
Magician’s prop shuts Palm Beach International Airport for two-hours!

A magician who recently performed for a Super Bowl party at the Versace mansion inadvertently caused flights to be shut down for two hours Saturday at Palm Beach International Airport when screeners checking his bags found a butane canister that allows him to shoot flames from his wrists.

Illusionist Simon Winthrop, who has relatives in Delray Beach, had packed the equipment in his luggage for a flight to Los Angeles. The Transportation Security Administration discovered the tank in his checked bag about 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office brought its bomb and arson squad to investigate. At 9:30, the airport evacuated the entire first floor and part of the second, forcing at least 1,000 passengers, ticket agents and airport employees to wait outside.
The sheriff's office sealed off roads leading to the airport in suburban West Palm Beach, and the Florida Highway Patrol diverted traffic from the Interstate 95 airport exit.

Passengers from 16 arriving flights were held on their planes for up to two hours while the terminal was closed.

While the magician was on his plane, federal agents tracked down Winthrop's mother and knocked on the door at the home of his brother, a local attorney.

Relatives explained that he performed last weekend at a Super Bowl party former Dolphins coach Don Shula attended at the former Versace mansion, Casa Casuarina in South Beach. They then showed the agents pictures of Winthrop shooting flames out the arms of his suit.

Winthrop's Web site, , includes a picture of Jessica Simpson watching the same trick, and his picture made the National Enquirer last year, his mother said. Susan Winthrop said the butane canister looks nothing like an explosive, but sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said the bomb squad found it suspicious.

The whole incident, Susan Winthrop said, was "kind of embarrassing."

Winthrop is based in Las Vegas and performs for private parties and corporate events all over the country. A video on his Web site shows a sleight-of-hand where he slips a watch from Chelsea Clinton's wrist and makes it reappear several feet away in Bill Clinton's hand.

Winthrop obviously is not a terrorist and will not be charged with a crime, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said.

Agents questioned Winthrop, 35, when he got off the plane to make his connection in Dallas, Orihuela said. He was allowed to continue on the second leg of his trip to Los Angeles.

The federal government could fine Winthrop if the materials in his checked luggage violate TSA rules, but a spokesman said Saturday said he didn't know if the items were prohibited.

Airport spokeswoman Lisa De La Rionda said the scare unfolded during the busy midday period airport employees call "the noon balloon."

Hundreds of people trying to make flights or pick up relatives got stuck in the traffic jam on surrounding roads. Many got out of their cars to ask for information, and a few set off for the airport on foot. Two plopped down in beach chairs on the side of the road.
As planes landed, pilots explained they would be stuck on the tarmac until the terminal reopened.

Passengers whipped out cellphones to call relatives, and many could see police cars from the runway. But most said the episode was nothing more than an inconvenience. "I don't really think of West Palm Beach as a terrorist target," one said.

The airport reopened for commercial flights at 11:30 a.m., with delays into the early afternoon.

Officials from the sheriff's office, airport and FBI said they hope passengers with unusual possessions, like flame-throwing butane tanks, will anticipate attention from the TSA and declare the items in advance. "You can't just bring this sort of a thing on a plane," Orihuela said.

Kathleen Chapman, The Palm Beach Post

Ooooops,
Magically,
Walt


The term for a person who does this is "flaming idiot." Why is it that some magicians think that simply because we use an item as a part of a magic trick, it is exempt from the law?
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Jerry
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Some where in Florida
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I think including laminated cards listing the contents, and your contact information when packing check luggage is brilliant. However, stating that your are a magician and the contents are magic props, draws undue interest during inspection. In other words an inspector may want take apart a item that is not job related, but to feed their curiosity.
I would list it as theatrical equipment and that you are simply a generic performer.

JerryB
mcvicarthetrickster
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St. Louis, MO
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I recently performed at a college and had my extending pole for the long distance card trick with me, and usually I have no problem with this, but for some reason TSA though it was suspicious and even took it out and extended it I explained to them it was for a magic trick, but they wouldn't believe, I even described the effect in detail and kept saying I was a magician, and that I do magic for a living. The TSA started getting angry b/c he thought I was lying and after about 5 minutes of me saying I'm magician this is a trick and him saying stop lying tell the truth. I got fed up and told him it was for fishing and he sayed ok and let me through.

Josh
mcvicarthetrickster
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St. Louis, MO
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In case I ever lose my luggage I keep as much as possible in my carry on especially the essentials. But I'm also trying to develop a back up show that could be put together in about 30 minutes after visiting walmart.
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2008-03-08 19:55, disneywld wrote:
So Bill,

Do you have any problems with that big metal cup on your head??

Happy Magic!

Chris


I usually put it in carry on. Smile

The cup, not the head. I check the head...just about every 30 minutes. I'm diabetic, and require an aisle seat.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
richards
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Brian Richards
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I will soon be traveling by air for my school assemblies and I was just curious if anyone has flown with a Virtual Soundman. My VSM has the giant LED screen and, along with the battery pack, I've always thought it looked like a bomb you might see on the "24." I plan to keep it with the iPod, along with the directions for what it is and how it works (in case they examine it). Anyone have any problems?

Brian
Bill Palmer
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I've never flown with the VSM, but I have flown with other non-computer electronic gear. If possible, remove the batteries from the unit while traveling. This will make it look less like a bomb on the x ray machine. Be sure to carry the VSM on with you.

The most important thing: Get to the airport an extra hour earlier than recommended. I say this because I ALWAYS ring the bell when I go through. I wear suspenders, and removing them is not an option because I have an equator, not a waist. So when I get to the metal detector, I always tell the attendant that I am going to ring their bells, because I wear suspenders. Smile when you do that. If you cooperate with them, you will get through very quickly.

If they ask you what the VSM is, tell them that it's a special sound control unit for a one-man show.

They are fairly accustomed to seeing things like this in the carry on. Sometimes they may ask you to let them examine the gadgetry, but you probably will have no problems. If they ask about the big LED screen, tell them it's a track indicator.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
richards
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Brian Richards
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Thanks Bill. I will definitely do what you have recommended!
Brian
daver
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Jupiter, FL
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Gang,

I travel a LOT for my bill-paying job. US domestic as well as international. I'm not a working pro, but I do carry a lot of props with me (I busk for giggles when not working, incorporate magic into my work etc..) and in all of my experience (hundreds of thousands of miles), exceptions of lost items (which is a randomly valid thing to happen) aside, the only thing I have ever had confiscated is some forks (so I don';t ruin restaurant flatware) I happened to forget in my carry-on.

1) Use common sense - I have an Electric Touch, and I never, ever wear the shoes or keep them in a carry-on. I have at times carried on the gimmick, but I usually check it. Gimmicked coins? No one will stop you. Magnets? I carry several (not huge, but several) and have NEVER been asked about them, pre or post-9/11... I've carried on a lot of things and other than the one experience above, it has not taken my any longer than anyone else thru security.

2) Be friendly, forthright and up front. If they ask to see your stuff, just understand they are doing a job, to keep you safe, and they are going to ask you things. Be friendly, and explain. Tell them you have magician props, smile and offer to answer whatever they need. To he** with exposure; just tell them whatever is in there.

3) Don't rush; take your time - through the security line - be methodical. No need to be frenzied getting your stuff in and out of the carry ons. That said...

4) Get there in plenty of time so you don't have to rush thru the security screening. Careful and thorough and forthright will make it really easy.

5) As others have said, I just put a piece of paper in there saying "Dear TSA screener, these are magician props. If you have any concerns during screening, please call my cell phone at xxx-yyy-zzzz. Thank you for your thorough work."

Just use common sense, and I submit you'll have no more problems than any other travler. That is from the experience of a huge amount of travel on airlines worldwide, large and small...
Dave



What's the difference between a magician and a deck of cards? A deck of cards has FOUR suits...
magicmarc
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NYC
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I'm going to take all your tips. ive always tried to remove everything questionable from checked baggage, and try to carry enuf to perform in my pockets and carry ons just in case of emergency.
marc
magicmarc
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Marc
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