New TSA Directive For Christmas : Explosive Swabs of Sippy Cups

Just in time for Christmas, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has added a new directive to its front line playbook. This morning, the 23rd of December, the TSA began mandatory explosive trace detection (ETD) on all thermoses and insulated children’s’ sippy cups.

While thermoses and sippy cups must be empty when passing through an airport security checkpoint, intelligence reports from mid-December indicate that terrorist cells may have experimented with smuggling explosives inside the insulated lining of plastic thermos bottles.

At this time the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has no information regarding the timing of targets of a potential attack … but as a precaution if you’re flying with kids, their insulated sippy cups will be pulled aside for ETD testing.

Happy Flying & Happy Holidays!


  1. I travel with a metal thermos in my backpack and get a coffee airside to sip on the flight. I used to take it out and lay it in the tray with my shoes, but I noticed that only about one in 50 times did a TSA agent notice it. Mostly they’d pick it up and shake it to see if it is empty. A few times they pointed to it and asked if it was empty, I said “yes” and then they ignored it.

    Lately, I just leave it in the bag. They haven’t taken note of it in months, including at one airport where they noticed a 9-volt battery on the scanner and had to find it in the bag (a disconnected spare for my wireless mic).

    Security theatre, indeed.

    If I were a parent, I’d wonder/worry what’s on that swab (if anything) that will transfer to my child.

  2. As far as I know there is not anything in the swab, it just will pick up any traces which the machine will pick up. They did this to my bag in Singapore and there wasn’t any transfer onto the bag from what I could see. I would say this directive is a hell of a lot more warranted than the no ink cartridges thing.

  3. But don’t you think that children and disabled people or people diagnosed with serious medical problems have become the most favourite target of the TSA workers? And a person carrying a gun is allowed to board the plane without any problems.

  4. I traveled on 23 Dec from Sao Paolo to Detroit connecting at MIA. Other than the fact that you have to walk forever and take the train to get to Immigration and your gate, it was a joy.
    The TSA were perfect, I know that will not make people very happy with me. There was no backscatter or millimeter wave inspections, the booth was empty. People who buzzed going through the magnetic archway were asked to go back and check their pockets and try again, no invasive searches.
    The whole thing took a few minutes.

    I was impressed.

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