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TSA detains travelers for discussing sandwich

Published time: April 16, 2013 20:27
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel work at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel work at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

Using slang at an airport could get you in trouble with the TSA: after a 29-year-old airline passenger described his lunch as “the bomb” – thereby indicating the deliciousness of his sandwich – he was detained, questioned and missed his flight.

His lunch was “the bomb,” but the security process was not: Jason Michael Cruz was at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last Thursday when the Transportation Security Administration came after him.

A TSA officer had overheard the young man talk to a friend and describe a deli sandwich he bought as “the wrong kind of bomb.” Cruz was referring to a 12-inch sandwich that a local Astoria deli calls “The Bomb” – a slang term that indicates both the excellence of the sandwich and the ‘explosively’ jam-packed ingredients between the bread. The sandwich was fully packed with cold cuts, cheese and toppings, but a nearby TSA agent didn’t know the context of the conversation between Cruz and his friend, Matthew Okumoto.

Cruz said he wanted to bring “The Bomb” aboard the plane in his carry-on luggage, which a TSA official interpreted as a discussion about an explosive device, the New York Post reports. Paranoid that the men planned to detonate an explosive weapon on their plane to Los Angeles, the official reported the conversation to her supervisor, Robert Haddock.

Officers then detained the pair at a security checkpoint, subjected them to questioning in a holding area, called the airport police and caused the men to miss their flight.

“The TSA clerk probably got a merit badge for her quick thinking in reporting the Scary Terroristy Threat to a supervisor, and that supervisor probably got promoted. Meanwhile, Cruz missed his flight,” writes Lisa Simeone, a blogger for the TSA News Blog.

Meanwhile, TSA agents fail to discover explosives going through airport security. Last month, an undercover TSA agent successfully bypassed security at Newark Liberty National Airport with a mock bomb. To test the effectiveness of the security screening procedures, the agent went through two screenings with an improvised explosive device-like contraption in his pants.

TSA never discovered the device. Instead, agents have stopped passengers for describing sandwiches, removed the legs of a double-amputee, laughed at nude images of airline passengers, stolen expensive jewelry from travelers and arrested a man for carrying a jar of peanut butter.

Travelers wishing to avoid arrest should refrain from describing their lunch items as “the bomb” – even if they do provide an “explosion” of flavor. Speaking about contraptions at an airport may more quickly lead to an arrest than discretely bringing one.