The Magic Café
Username:
Password:
[ Lost Password ]
  [ Forgot Username ]
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Magic Props at Airport (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
Medortho
View Profile
New user
52 Posts

Profile of Medortho
So I'm going to have my first flight soon, how do I manage to get my stuff through the airport without being harassed about it? How do you go through security while sticking to the magicians code? "Whats this, sir?" - "I can't tell you, it would ruin the secret." Yea right... Or should I just be completely honest about everything to keep the hassle to a minimum? "This looks dangerous, sir, what is it?" - "Oh, that thing. It's alright its just full of chemicals so I can produce smoke with it. Totally safe." How shall I go about it all? I need to take several props with me that might look pretty weird to officials.
Jim Snack
View Profile
Inner circle
1338 Posts

Profile of Jim Snack
It is a hassle, but about half the time, the TSA folks pull my bag out of line for an inspection. The Linking Rings look like coils of wire, so they want a second look. As soon as I see them go for my bag, I tell the examiner that I'm a magician and they were probably looking at the Chinese Ring trick. Trying to establish a little rapport, I joke that magicians can keep secrets from everybody but the TSA. As the examiner starts to unzip my bag and remove the rings, I quietly ask them not expose the secret to the world. The person is usually pretty cool about it.

Sometimes, I carry a wireless microphone, and they want to examine that equipment. I pack any questionable items right on top, or else put them in my second carry bag, so they don't have to dig through my underwear to get to the items that triggered the hand search.

The most important thing you can do is to visit the TSA or airline website to check what is prohibited, especially if you are planning on bringing on any chemicals. Depending upon what you carry, you may have to check your bag or ship items another way.
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
lou serrano
View Profile
Special user
Los Angeles, CA
670 Posts

Profile of lou serrano
Regarding the rings, I always tie a silk cloth to bind the rings together. The cloth always goes around the gimmicked part, so there is never anything to see if they do take out the rings for inspection. I've never had anyone untie the cloth. As for everything else, I never say what the item does, I just tell them what it is. For example, if someone asked me about my Ring Flite, I wouldn't tell them what it's used for. I would just tell them it's a key case. Security almost never asks me questions, so there is no explanation necessary.

Just follow the TSA guidelines and you should be fine.

Respectfully,

Lou Serrano
Medortho
View Profile
New user
52 Posts

Profile of Medortho
How about I leave the more questionable looking stuff at home and get someone to send it over via mail? Then again, I'd just like to take it all with me at once.
bunkyhenry
View Profile
Special user
NYC Metro
826 Posts

Profile of bunkyhenry
Don't carry them onboard just check them
rockthemike
View Profile
Special user
Seattle
694 Posts

Profile of rockthemike
What about fire wallets like a Jardonnett?
Michael Wong
Wizard
http://michaelwong.says.so
Sealegs
View Profile
Inner circle
The UK, Portsmouth
2567 Posts

Profile of Sealegs
LeOn wrote:
Quote:
should I just be completely honest about everything to keep the hassle to a minimum?


Without doubt, Yes.

If you are taking chemicals with you then you'll need to make sure before you get to the airport that you are allowed to have them in your checked in luggage. You'll also then need to have some means of proving they are the chemicals that you will be claiming them to be. If this sounds like it will be a hassle (and it will be) my advice is to leave them out your act and as a consequence out of your luggage.

I fly virtually every week (often many times a week) with my props getting to and from the various cruise ships I work on and I have done so for the past 12 years. I think I have a fairly good perspective on this topic. So here is some general advice.

Anything that contains or has contained volatile flammables such as lighter fluid cannot and should not be placed in checked in luggage. The reduced pressure environment of the cargo hold and the confined space of whatever they are packed in makes for a potentially dangerous combination.

A cigarette lighter can however be taken on board as a personal item if carried on your person but strangely not if placed in your hand luggage.

If any of this poses a problem for one of your effects either find an alternative or leave the routine out.

Occasionally, but extremely rarely, you might be asked to open your props case and show the contents. Just do as asked and be as helpful as possible.

In 12 years and literally hundreds of flights all over the world I have only had to do this about 3 or 4 times and I carry some really odd looking stuff with me and have been to some of the world's most security conscious counties' airports. The thing they normally want to look at in my props are the 3 'Brick Hammers' that I carry. Once they see that they are indeed brick hammers... that's it.

You might be asked to remove batteries from any battery operated devices you have, (this has happened to me only once) and the person inspecting the contents of your props might want to see something specific that showed up on the scan. They will no doubt see it as looking like something else or just as 'generally suspicious'. Once they see what it is, (or rather what it isn't) then they are done.

They are not going to want to examine your linking rings, or look for the secret compartment in your silk caddy (or whatever). They will probably guess you are a magic act from your odd looking stuff but don't expect that to be any instant pass. (it might speed the process up a bit though) They are, though, still going to want to see whatever it was that caught their attention. Our props are more interesting to us than they are the security officers of the TSA or BAA.

Electrical items might attract their attention. If asked, just show them and again that will be that.

If you have anything that even remotely looks like a weapon you are asking for more of a headache. Anything that has the vague shape of a gun, even a 2D cutout will be an issue. So my advice is ditch any routine that uses a toy gun, crossbow or anything similar. It's honestly not worth the trouble.

One other thing, if you lock whatever you carry your props in make sure it can be easily unlocked. If the TSA, BAA or anyother screeners need to get into it to look at something that they are suspicious about and it's locked they will break the lock open. I have a combination strap around my traveling prop's case on which I have clearly written the code and on my props box itself I have a 'broken padlock' that cannot be locked shut but which is held shut with tape. This holds everything secure but enables any inspecting officer to be able to get to my stuff if they need to.

Gun shaped objects aside... you are more likely to have problems with anything slightly dodgy in your carry on. Just check what is stated as, 'not allowed' and make sure you avoid traveling with any of these things.

For magic acts it's also worth noting that anything that looks like or could be used as a restraint is also not going to be allowed in carry on. So handcuffs, straitjackets, padlocks, even if they are all gimmicked up to the eyeballs so they don't function as the genuine article would, will also not be allowed. You'll need to check them in or they will be taken from you.

Do not expect to be able to talk security into allowing you to take them on by showing that they are in fact gimmicked magic props. You cannot expect security to take your word for it that the way the gimmicked prop functions is the only way it can work.

Make yourself aware of the rules and guidelines regarding what you can and can't carry. If asked to show your props, be patient, helpful and respectful. Co-operating without an attitude will make the process quick and hassle free.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
misterillusion
View Profile
Special user
Roseville, California
689 Posts

Profile of misterillusion
I have traveled quite a bit with magic props in my carry-on. Sometimes it triggers an immediate full inspection and other times, absolutely no inspection what-so-ever (for the exact same items). I always let them know that I am a magician and show them my brochure or card and I generally get a "knowing nod" and sometimes a smile. I never carry any kind of blade or scissors or chemicals of any kind. I also do not wear a pull or holdout or any other device on me. You never know, though, one time they did an inspection because they saw a bent spoon on the x-ray machine. I make sure that I am very cooperative and give them straight forward answers to any & all questions. Overall it has never been a problem in all these years of security checks.
May every day be magic!

http://www.misterillusion.com
rockthemike
View Profile
Special user
Seattle
694 Posts

Profile of rockthemike
Quote:
On 2010-12-04 10:22, Sealegs wrote:
LeOn wrote:
Quote:
should I just be completely honest about everything to keep the hassle to a minimum?


Make yourself aware of the rules and guidelines regarding what you can and can't carry. If asked to show your props, be patient, helpful and respectful. Co-operating without an attitude will make the process quick and hassle free.



This whole post of yours that I edited needs to be stickied. That was awesome. Thank you very much.
Michael Wong
Wizard
http://michaelwong.says.so
Jim Snack
View Profile
Inner circle
1338 Posts

Profile of Jim Snack
Thanks Lou for the silk on the rings idea . It's so simple, why didn't I think of it!

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Keith Raygor
View Profile
Special user
Naples, FL
962 Posts

Profile of Keith Raygor
Had an 1-day trip to Indianapolis for a show a few weeks ago for a Realtor. Client asked that I bring the bubbles, the trick in which you blow bubbles and grab one out of the air and bounce it on the floor.
No checked luggage.
The bubbles required a further look by TSA. Upon inspection, the load area of the trick gave them concern. I explained, with a smile and without attitude that is was a magic trick for children. Would they like me to demonstrate? "No." Supervisor called over. No liquid in the trick, I'd emptied it before leaving, figuring I'd buy some at the first opportunity in Indy.

Here's the tricky part: TSA guy says I'm not allowed to bring 8 oz of liquid on flight. I explain, the container only holds 1 oz. and it's empty. He says the label on the bubble bottle says 8 oz. I explain it's only a trick, it's empty, it doesn't hold more than 1 oz. I say, "Please unscrew the top (I'm not allowed to touch anything, including their table), look inside of the container. See? It only holds about one ounce." He says doesn't matter, label says 8 oz. Manager called over. I feel like I'm going back and forth with a wall. Manager agrees with TSA agent. 8 ounces it is.
I explain - again- there's no liquid in the prop. After 20 minutes of starting to sweat, and keeping my cool, they explain to me my five options:

1) Go back out through security and put it in my car (may have missed the flight, and yes, I'd still have to wait in the line again).
2) Go back out through security and mail it to myself at my destination (show was in 8 hours, 1500 miles away, so mail wouldn't get there in time)
3) Go back out through security and find the post office and mail it to myself at home, but I'd still have to go back through the line and procedures of security again.
4) Go back out through security and take the trick to the ticket counter where they could try to find my luggage, then check the trick in with my bag. As I explained I don't have checked luggage, he told me not to interrupt his options.
5) They can throw the trick away.

I chose #5, was upset, and trying not to show it.
By the time I was done, I'd lost 25 minutes, argued over a non-existent 8 oz of liquid, and disappointed my client's request.
Frustrated, I walked to the flight pondering those 3 points.

Then I immediately reminded myself that bubbles are easy to replace, and I'm making my living making people smile. Life was good.
Now, it's just a story.
Medortho
View Profile
New user
52 Posts

Profile of Medortho
Quote:
On 2010-12-04 15:15, rockthemike wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-04 10:22, Sealegs wrote:
LeOn wrote:
Quote:
should I just be completely honest about everything to keep the hassle to a minimum?


Make yourself aware of the rules and guidelines regarding what you can and can't carry. If asked to show your props, be patient, helpful and respectful. Co-operating without an attitude will make the process quick and hassle free.



This whole post of yours that I edited needs to be stickied. That was awesome. Thank you very much.


agreed, thank you very much, Sealegs.

Quote:
4) Go back out through security and take the trick to the ticket counter where they could try to find my luggage, then check the trick in with my bag. As I explained I don't have checked luggage, he told me not to interrupt his options.

So that would mean I'm all fine if I put the fishy looking gimmicks into my luggage?
Gordon
View Profile
Special user
Chicago
692 Posts

Profile of Gordon
Keith's story demonstrates why you can't predict how the TSA will react to your props and belongings. All logic and common sense are out of play when dealing with them. I've had my bag searched and been questioned because I had 3 decks of playing cards in my bag. I'm not aware of any way to hijack an airplane using playing cards, Ricky Jay's book notwithstanding.
Keith Raygor
View Profile
Special user
Naples, FL
962 Posts

Profile of Keith Raygor
Gordon, it's funny you mention that, because at the end, I asked them what it was that triggered the initial look-through. It was the decks of cards in the bottom of my bag. They said it looked like a block of cheese. It makes no sense, but as you said, all logic and common sense are out of play when dealing with them.

Now add the new pat-downs and machines to the stable, and you've got a whole new level of folly. My understanding is that most other countries do not experience the non-sensical in their airports, that we do in the US.
Andrew Zuber
View Profile
Inner circle
Los Angeles, CA
2643 Posts

Profile of Andrew Zuber
Any tips on the best way to travel with a hold out? Or is removing it really the preferable option?
Sub-question: If the hold out has C4 attached to it, will that make a difference?
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Chad C.
View Profile
Inner circle
1521 Posts

Profile of Chad C.
I recently had shows that I had to fly to and had in my carry on bag my wireless mic, an mp3tech, several decks of cards, and the wires for all of the electronics. I also had a metal briefcase with my floating table in it. Went straight through on the flights there and back. That was before all the holiday travel season so who knows what it would be like now.

Also, I use flash paper in my show but I had that shipped there prior to the performance so it was waiting on me at the venue.
Jim Snack
View Profile
Inner circle
1338 Posts

Profile of Jim Snack
Keith,

Your liquid story reminded me of a flight a few months ago. I had about two ounces of toothpaste left in an 8 oz tube that was rolled up from the bottom. While it made it through security on the first leg, I had to throw it out on the return flight. They said it was 8 oz and couldn't be carried on. So, it seems that the container has to be 3 oz or less. Pretty dumb if you ask me, but those are their rules.

Jim
Jim Snack

"Helping Magicians Succeed with Downloadable Resources"
www.success-in-magic.com
Andrew Zuber
View Profile
Inner circle
Los Angeles, CA
2643 Posts

Profile of Andrew Zuber
Theoretically you could fill your entire carry on with toothpaste but they won't stop you from wheeling that onto the plane.
"I'm sorry - if you were right, I would agree with you." -Robin Williams, Awakenings
Blair Marshall
View Profile
Inner circle
Montreal, Canada
3640 Posts

Profile of Blair Marshall
Re: The checked luggage. WAY before all these security issues (in the early 70's) I was flying to another Canadian province to do a series of arena shows, I used a blank gun in one of my routines. I thought that as I did not want them going through my checked luggage and making a mess if it showed up on x-ray, that I would put it in my carry-on ( WRONG - LOL) When I checked in at the counter I advised the desk that I had the piece with blank ammunition with me! You wanted to see the ticket agent's face. She advised that it should have gone in my checked in baggage. They called an RCMP officer who escorted me through the terminal with the gun, back into the baggage handling area, where I was allowed to put it into my bag. No further issue. (And actually the gun should have gone out with my illusions that flew out earlier.) It would be probably be more difficult to access your baggage today, especially at a major airport.

So lesson learned. It is amazing what can be put into checked baggage. If you only NEED to take a carry-on, it may be worth the effort to take a piece for check-in so as to avoid the hassles associated with the inspections at the counters for your smaller props.

The other worthy suggestion above is to ship out the material via courrier to your customer, if it's an internal shipment in the U.S. the cost should be very low.

Avoid the hassles.

Blair
jay leslie
View Profile
V.I.P.
Southern California
9490 Posts

Profile of jay leslie
Quote:
On 2010-12-05 15:50, Keith Raygor wrote:
Gordon, it's funny you mention that, because at the end, I asked them what it was that triggered the initial look-through. It was the decks of cards in the bottom of my bag. They said it looked like a block of cheese. It makes no sense,


A block of cheese can look like C4. They probably said "cheese" to avoid making you and any other already-anxious passengers upset.
What word would you rather hear while standing in line/ Cheese or Explosives
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Magic Props at Airport (2 Likes)
 Go to page 1~2~3 [Next]
[ Top of Page ]
All content & postings Copyright © 2001-2020 Steve Brooks. All Rights Reserved.
This page was created in 0.24 seconds requiring 5 database queries.
The views and comments expressed on The Magic Café
are not necessarily those of The Magic Café, Steve Brooks, or Steve Brooks Magic.
> Privacy Statement <

ROTFL Billions and billions served! ROTFL