The Transportation Security Administration wants sci-fi and comic book aficionados to know that it’s perfectly okay to board a commercial airline with a full-scale Star Wars blaster.
It just has to go into checked luggage, along with any other replica weapons one might score at Comic-Con International, whose annual gathering opens Thursday in San Diego.
A year after United Airlines created a small blip in the time-space continuum by banning comic books in checked bags — supposedly at the behest of the TSA — the federal agency this week issued friendly neighborhood pointers so fans could avoid Comic-Con-related hassles at airport checkpoints or heartbreak over damaged collector’s items. It turns out that stacks of DC and Marvel classics, not to mention brochures and magazines, are best tucked in carry-ons than stowed in checked bags, the TSA says.
“Every year during Comic-Con International, our officers have issues with the various items that people purchase and then either carry-on or place in their checked bags,” the TSA said on its blog. “These come in the form of figurines, costume items (including replica and real weapons) and other mementos that generally alarm our checkpoint and checked baggage screening systems and result in a bag check.”
First, the TSA urges collectors to mail purchased items in their original, sealed packaging instead of flying with them. This will avoid possible damage to the packaging by an inquisitive TSA officer.
The TSA also urges people to pack replicas of weapons in checked baggage. Unlike real firearms, no declaration is necessary, the blog says. It also notes that anything resembling an explosive is forbidden from flying at all.
The TSA says carry-on is preferred for comic book stacks because putting them in checked bags can trigger alarms that necessitate bag searches, which can create delays and cause bags to miss their flights. When in doubt, people are advised to ask the TSA about an item through Twitter @AskTSA.