United Airlines made yet another blunder — albeit one with no injuries this time — by forcing San Diego Comic Con attendees to remove comics from their checked baggage for their flights home.
United insisted the policy was being enforced by the TSA and applied to all airlines and flights out of San Diego International Airport this past weekend. However, the TSA then publicly called out United, stating that they had no such policy.
The restriction on checking comic books applies to all airlines operating out of San Diego this weekend and is set by the TSA. ^MD
— United (@united) July 23, 2017
Good afternoon. Pls note there are no TSA restrictions on checking comic books or any other types of books. https://t.co/Nu00IvcZSc
— TSA (@TSA) July 24, 2017
A TSA spokesperson, speaking to Ars Technica, said the error was likely due to a post on TSA’s blog that recommended comic convention attendees place their books in their carryon bags in order to speed up the screening process, as large stacks of magazines and comics can sometimes trigger a bag search. However, this was merely a recommendation, not a policy requirement.
Lorie Dankers, a TSA spokeswoman, told Ars on Monday morning that she was mystified as to how United could get this policy wrong. “I don’t know how United went ahead and stated a TSA policy incorrectly,” she said. “I can say that TSA has advised in the past that if people bring several of the same type of item, it can alarm the checked baggage screening, but there is no prohibition on bringing things that are not a security threat. In this case, comic books are not a security threat and we encourage travelers to bring them if they so choose.”
Convention-goers often collect a significant number of free and purchased publications, sometimes too many to fit in carry-on bags. In addition, rare comics are often sealed in sizable plastic cases for preservation, which makes them inconvenient for carry-on, and which are better-protected in checked luggage.