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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport 284

McGruber writes "The big buzz for travelers today is the story of how a scary toothbrush prompted the closure of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 'Airport officials told Channel 2 Action News that an electric toothbrush began vibrating inside a bag checked onto an AirTran flight, causing workers to alert airport officials to the strange noise.' The terminal and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) subway were both temporary closed 'out of an abundance of caution.' ATL has been the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic since 1998, and by number of landings and take-offs since 2005."
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Scary Toothbrush Prompts Shutdown of World's Busiest Airport

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  • Happened to my wife (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:32PM (#42483237)

    My wife was flying for work back in 2004-2005 time period and her electric toothbrush turned on inside her bag. Nobody freaked out, but one of her coworkers made some stupid "Haha is that your vibrator" comment.

    Shutting down the whole thing probably cost them at least a million dollars. This is what the terrorists winning looks like.

  • by terbeaux ( 2579575 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:34PM (#42483267)

    Billions of dollars to shutdown airports for no reason. They were thrown off the tracks by Amtrak Chief of Police for trying to encroach on American's 4th amendment rights outside of their "jurisdiction". []

    I wrote to my representatives about how I feel about the TSA. You can too: []

  • Re:The first rule... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:38PM (#42483329) Homepage

    Came here to read that. Thank you for not disappointing!

  • My experience at ATL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2013 @08:54PM (#42483541)
    Posting AC as I actually work for an airline at ATL. Worked there for the past 6 years, and maybe 3-4 times I've discovered a vibrating object in a bag. The first time a supervisor took the bag to another, private room and opened it up. The second time, it was obviously an electric razor and I was able to actually turn it off from outside the bag by pressing the button. The most recent time, I was in a bin loading the plane, it was rainy and was a quick turn, so did nothing. The passenger can always put more batteries in when they get there. In any case, at no time have I ever seen parts of the airport closed down for something like this, and vibrating bags are almost never reported anyway, because everyone knows its not going to be a bomb, and you know the person that has to open the bag and checks sure as hell doesnt want to open up a bag and find a vibrator.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Black LED ( 1957016 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:02PM (#42483629)
    I've had the security guys at various US airports get scared on multiple occasions when I've run my toiletries bag through the x-ray scanner and they saw my electric toothbrush. With the sheer number of times that this must happen in any given airport, you'd think they would know better by now.

    I got a chuckle out of the video when the reporter mentioned that the airport personnel were "concerned". It's more like they were scared out of their minds, running from their own shadows.
  • by joeflies ( 529536 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @09:10PM (#42483721)
    the toothbrush in question was found in checked luggage. The story didn't say if it was a security person who found the bag, or if it was a baggage handler or some other person who doesn't have the right to inspect the bag. It wasn't a matter of going through the security checkpoint where the passenger is sitting in front of the bag and could get the toothbrush out and explain what it is. Now whether sounds require closing down the airport, that seems like a bit of overreaction.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:06PM (#42484169) Homepage

    A euphemism for panic. These people are cowards.

  • Re:What happens... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @11:04PM (#42484565)

    You think baggage handlers are authorized to do anything but hit the panic button?

    Given the number of iPads, computers, etc that get stolen EVERY DAY from someone's checked baggage I don't think there's anything baggage handlers aren't authorised to do. Between the thefts, the policy of having a specific lock that is easily opened by airport security, and the general lack of integrity in the industry I wouldn't be surprised if they spend their spare lunch hour wearing travelers dresses and scratching their balls with your toothbrush.

  • Re:It's been tried (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @01:06AM (#42485277)

    Screening by airline personnel was the standard prior to 9/11. It wasn't clearly better.

    I know the Internet helps to spread stories around a lot more today than they would've been pre-9/11, but I don't remember horror stories about airport screening being the everyday sort of thing that they are today. I never remember hearing a story about rape victims being sent to the ER after going through airport screening [] or security agents helping to disperse the ashes of dead relatives all over the security checkpoint []. I find it utterly sad that I am in no way surprised that there are currently over 9000 (humor not intended) results in Google for "colostomy bag tsa []", with a good number of them reporting on unique incidents spread out across a number of years. In fact, if anything, I'm surprised there are only that many.

    And yet you think that the old screening wasn't clearly better than what we have today? I'll take a little more risk if it means getting my dignity back.

  • Re:The first rule... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by balsy2001 ( 941953 ) on Saturday January 05, 2013 @07:55AM (#42486693)
    Just a couple of thoughts being an expat resident of China. 1. They treat foreigners special. Since I have been here I have felt like they make special effort to ensure we don't get a bad impression. 2. I have to have my passport and have it recorded on their police computer system each time I check into a hotel and buy a train ticket. I think they try to make it appear like it isn't a police state. At the same time I will tell people as an expat you can basically do what you want in china. 3. Compare PRC proper to Hong Kong SAR and you will see a world of difference. (I apologize if my assumption is incorrect that you are not a Chinese national)

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato