back to article TSA screeners spooked by Apple's 'futuristic artifact'

A glowing, cube-shaped Apple Design Award trophy prompted US Transportation Security Administration airport staffers to give one award winner special scrutiny when he tried to board a flight back to his Seattle digs. Juraj Hlaváč had won the award at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco for the educational …


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  1. theloon

    TSA fun continues

    They spent a lot of time counting the number of gadgets I had on me one time. All Apple except for my TomTom. Then followed it with some nonsense, taking me aside, about why to you need a iphone, ipod, ipad, mac and gps, oh and a small torch. 'Because they all perform different functions'... not a popular answer. Whatever dudes...

    Best of all recently they wanted to see my boarding pass for the third time, just as I was walking into the body scanner. Told them it was electronic and therefore on my phone in the bag as instructed by TSA currently going through the xray machine.

    That confused the dude...

    Best bit was being asked for it again, as I got out of the body scanner.

    It gets dumber and dumber each time we all fly...

    1. Haku

      Re: TSA fun continues

      I dare you to print out your next boarding pass on an industrial sized plotter.

      1. theloon

        Re: TSA fun continues

        Brilliant idea! I might just do it.

        Oh perhaps as a t-shirt :)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TSA fun continues

      You want to go through Heathrow T5 - bunch of fucking monkeys. Sorry I'll re-phrase that; bunch of fucking evolutionarily limited upright apes - part of the family but the bit where cousins have been breeding for generations.

      Had my rucksack turfed out (it is my mobile office) just tugging at wires that were caught until they almost snapped like a bird trying to remove a worm from the ground. I don't think that quite constitutes "Can I search your bag?" after the slouching simian at the x-ray just pointed at it and grunted at another. More like a piranha attack on an unfortunate mammal that had fallen into the Amazon.

      Then she lazily got the sampler and scraped it round the inside of the bag - why she couldn't do that with the stuff in there....... obviously not good at logical thought processes. After the machine determined that my bag hadn't been in contact with any of the substances they look for - she just walked off. Leaving me to put my bag back together, including my parking ticket for my home airport which had fallen on the floor.

      I fucking hate flying at the best of times, all the utter bollocks you have to go through and waiting around for delayed planes but employing rude arrogant c***s like that really makes it utterly miserable. Welcome to London!

      Think I'll get the train next time, or drive

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TSA fun continues

      Believe me, they are a lot more unpleasant to foreign geeks on their way into the country. All that eyebulging and clutching of firearms is distinctly unpleasant, on top of being made to feel like a criminal.

      Doing my very best to avoid entering the US again until it learns to behave like a civilised country - work has sent me to some nice bits of Europe, which were pleasant and welcoming, but I generally done my best to avoid all "opportunities" to return to The Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave.

      So yes, you have my sympathies for the crap you guys put up with on internal flights, but spare a thought for the Filthy Foreigns, and what this is doing to the already horribly tarnished reputation of the US around the world.

      Anon because I don't want the reasoned discourse of the Bill O'Reilly tendency in my voicemail again...

      1. Crofty616

        Re: TSA fun continues

        I visited the USA with some of my friends last year, I can honestly say I didn’t have any issues with airport security, and every member of staff we spoke to was very friendly. Guess it’s just down to personal experience, maybe next time I'll get pulled to one side and cavity searched to even it out, who knows!

    5. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: TSA fun continues

      TSA policy is to preferentially hire people of below average intelligence. They don't get bored as easily with this kind of work. Unfortunately, there are unwanted consequences to this hiring policy.

  2. a_been

    Keystone Cops >> TSA

    Since the TSA has felt it necessary to strip search 5 year old girls and teaser pensioners in their endless quest to look busy, this counts as remarkable competent behavior for them.

  3. Monkey Bob

    Can you change the battery?

    1. jubtastic1

      CT scan reveals the secret

      4 Lithium-UnicornIum AA cells power the magic.

    2. tekHedd
      Thumb Up

      Re: Can you charge the battery?

      Only with the official Apple charger. The battery can't be replaced when it fails, but that doesn't matter because next year's award will be smaller and lighter.

  4. Dan Paul

    @Monkey Bob - There is NO Battery, it's an Energon Cube!

    Geez Bob,

    Don't you know what an Energon Cube looks like? Even if Apple have defaced it's surface with Terran scribblings? Those TSA guys must have used to work at Hoover Dam. No wonder they were looking at it so deeply. They know what happens when an iPhone get hit with the Allspark.

  5. Christoph Silver badge

    Got to be easier than travelling with a Hugo Award

    The Hugo Award is a metal rocket ship, with fins. Pretty well certain to panic any screener who isn't an SF fan.

    1. Robert Sneddon

      Re: Got to be easier than travelling with a Hugo Award

      A friend of mine had to fly back from the US with a Hugo in his luggage to deliver it to the British World Famous Author who had won it. This was a few days after 9/11 happened.

      Nowadays the Worldcon committee Fedex the awards to overseas winners assuming they don't want to take them home in their luggage or they've not made other arrangements.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got to be easier than travelling with a Hugo Award

      Wasn't a Hugo Award but a few years ago we made the "mistake" of letting our then 8 year-old son pack his own selection of toys to take in his ruck-sack on holiday. Cue secutiry staff at local airport having serious discussion as whether his extensive collection of toy fighter aircraft costituted bannded "weapons" due to their pointed noses and needed to be confoscated! Can't remember but that might have been the same occasion when they alos found where the set of baby cultery for our younger son whcih we thought we'd lost had got to ... X-ray revealed they were at the bottom of the changing bag under loads of stuff ..... needless to say they were confiscated but fortunately the fighter jets were cleared for take-off!

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: jet toys

        WTFO? They actually had to discuss toy fighter jets? What next, will they ban the MacBook Air because it has a pointy edge and could be used as a hatchet on someone. D'oh! I've planted the seed now haven't I.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: jet toys

          We were once flying up from London to Scotland and had to check-in the kids plastic, hollow, lightweight car seat as it was a "possibly offensive weapon" that someone could be hit with . The nearly 1kg DSLR + lens in my rucksack (also with convenient strap) was perfectly acceptable though...

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: jet toys

            I win, I win!

            Shortly after 11/9 (hey I'm British), they they confiscated some wooden tooth picks I had as they could be dangerous.

            However the for in-flight meal they gave us metal knives and forks, as they had ran out of plastic ones and had to rush those on board.

            Palm meet face.

            1. Pinky

              Re: jet toys

              Sounds familiar - in Nov 2001 we flew out to the States, and had a load of stuff removed from hand luggage (including a CAT5 cable that I'd forgotten was in my laptop bag!). After fighting the on board meal with the flimsiest plastic cutlery I've ever come across, I was almost unable to contain my laughter when they handed out the drinks - plastic cups, but glass miniatures of the various alcoholic beverages! Considering this was a flight out of Glasgow....

            2. Swarthy Silver badge

              Re: jet toys

              My favorite:

              Around 2003 or so, before TSA got fully spun up, I was flying cross-country from Los Angeles; I had lost my driver's license, so I had no photo ID. The security folks allowed me to fly, but I was subjected to extra "security", meaning I got searched every time I got on (or off) of a plane. I had three transfers. (Yes, they searched me on air-side to air-side transfers.)

              Because of my extended time in various security lines I got to witness a changing of the (armed, military) guard: The on-coming guard handed over his rifle, walked through the metal detector, had his pocket knife confiscated and rifle returned. He then took his post on the other side of the metal detector.

              1. KnucklesTheDog
                Thumb Up

                Re: jet toys

                A clear hole in security, just smuggle your pocket knife inside your rifle!

                (I'm sure you worked this out, and it's a great story to visualise, but of course he could have passed his knife to a passenger, I'm assuming they think someone would have noticed him doing the same with a rifle...)

  6. Don Jefe

    Hlaváč - Poor Bastard

    The problem is that he's got a 'funny' name. Just look at all those squiggles! This is 'Merika damnit and we ain't got no time for doins with them foreners.

    My wife is from a far away land and her name has squiggles too. The crappy part is now that she's a permanent resident here in the U.S. she has three (3) different forms of Govt accepted ID but none of them have all the same squiggles (due to printing limitations in the various agencies). Every time we travel it's guaranteed to be a pain in the ass because Delta's boarding passes don't print the squiggles the same way as her ID card and her drivers license is different too. Thank god she rarely carries glowing cubes; then 45mins would turn into 15hrs and they'd have to feel her up 'just to make sure'.


    P.S. Obligatory political statement now that it is election time here in the U.S.A. The TSA as part of DHS are two of the most wasteful, useless and LARGEST agencies in Federal history and they were created under a Republican administration and all day long I'm inundated with rhetoric telling me the Republican Party is 'Small Government'. What gives?

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Hlaváč - Poor Bastard

      "all day long I'm inundated with rhetoric telling me the Republican Party is 'Small Government'. What gives?"

      They only govern the little people, not big business.

  7. leon stok

    a bit offtopic..

    But it is sad to see they awarded 2 of the 3 Mac developer awards to ports, instead of original Mac programs.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: a bit offtopic..

      No. Your point is extremely valid.

      Making real world programs work with a wonky, weirdo, non-business platform is hard work and they deserve the credit for spending the time to make it possible.

      If it wasn't for people porting stuff to OS(x) then Apple would have no purchase at all in the real world except for rich hipsters, useless 'videographers' and tech savvy wannabe's. Good on the porters for doing it and making Apple users feel better about themselves and their tremendous wallets (or BestBuy/Compucenter credit lines).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: a bit offtopic..

        You know, for a few moments there, I thought we were actually going to get through an entire thread in response to a vaguely Apple-related article, without someone making an "incredibly witty" remark about 'Apple lawyers' or 'Apple's fanboi customers'... but it was obviously too much to hope for.

        Well done, Don Jefe. You win this glowing cube for "Services to Innovative and Original Satire Writing"

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: a bit offtopic..

          Foolish mortal. Why ever would you expect such a thing to happen?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give the sycophantic drivel a rest!

    "the security folks reverently placed the futuristic artifact into its own plastic bin and ran it again through the x-ray machine."

    Riiiight because if it looked like a bomb they would have just drop-kicked it into the scanner..........

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In 2000 years....

    ...said artifact may be the central reason for pilgrims to travel to some far off Jobsian cathedral.

  10. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    2001 obelisk

    It all rather sounds like the opening sequence from 2001: A space odyssey, with the apes dithering round the mysterious obelisk, poking it with sticks, and wondering WTF it is.

    1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

      Re: 2001 obelisk

      I think you have finally explained the movie.

      The iPad 4000 with dimension interleave had planted the idea in Stanley Kubrick's brain back in the 60s.

      The reason that the old man at the end does not look like Jobs is because the iTimeMachine 3000 had overheated and lost all pictures of him.

      1. Ru

        Re: "I think you have finally explained the movie."


        1. The obelisk was black.

        2. The obelisk had corners.

        Any questions?

        1. Muscleguy Silver badge

          Re: "I think you have finally explained the movie."

          Obviously the program to clone Jonathan Ives fails and he eventually retires. His design influence wanes and pearl white with rounded corners becomes the thing the iconoclasts attack in order to seem hip. Give it time, Apple will sell futuristic sharp pointed obelisks within oh (how old is Ives?), 15-20 years.

    2. andy mcandy
      Thumb Up

      Re: 2001 obelisk

      when do they get to the beating with bones part?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was expecting

    rounded corners

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    do they give away their own, logo-typed cubes, during their world convention held at the Capitol Hill? And would the TSA recognize the logo?

  13. Crisp Silver badge

    Should have just said it was a Companion Cube

    And just left it at that.

  14. Robert A. Rosenberg
    Big Brother

    Dumb Security Types

    Back in 1996 I ran into this type of dumb security checker when flying. I was returning from a science fiction convention that was held over Labor Day along with some friends. We had traveled from the convention hotel to the airport via a bus and our luggage was stored in lockers under the bus. At the airport we were asked if at anytime after we had packed our bags they were out of our control (a usual question that was being asked at that time) and my friend answered the question literally by saying that they had been stored in the bus lockers for the trip but that was not a problem since Greg Morris had died the prior week. This was a reference to his Mission Impossible role of Barney Collier where he would be hidden in car trunks (and other places) and fool with stored luggage/etc. and that the actor had just died on August 27, 1996. The agent wanted to pull his bags for inspection until it was explained that it was a dumb question in the first place and that it ignored the normal times when bags were not under the control of the passenger (they were thinking in terms of the bags being left unattended or being left for a period of time out of the view of the passenger) . The fact that a MI/Barney Collier swap could be done if the bus had been altered to allow access to the lockers was more than they could comprehend.

    Then there was the incident (I do not remember if it was the same trip) when another friend was arrested when he tried to pick up his bags at the end of the trip due to the bags having been x-ray'ed after being checked and the x-ray having spotted the replica guns in the bags that he had bought at the convention. At that time bags were allowed to be checked and locked and thus they needed to wait for arrival to search them.

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